Kenny Dalglish has today left his role as Liverpool manager following discussions with the club’s American owners earlier this week.
Liverpool have suffered a poor season in the Premier League and finished behind rivals Everton in 8th, while their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in three seasons ended some time ago.
Dalglish flew to America to discuss his future with owners John W Henry and Tom Werner on Monday and was expected to go on holiday with his family, however he has remained on Merseyside ahead of an announcement from the club.
Speculation has mounted over his future following his talks with representatives of the Fenway Sports Group, in which he reportedly outlined his ambitions for the future of the club.
A statement from Liverpool released today confirmed Dalglish's departure.
It read: "Kenny will always be more than a championship winning manager, more than a championship winning star player. He is in many ways the heart and soul of the club. He personifies everything that is good about Liverpool Football Club. He has always put the Club and its supporters first. Kenny will always be a part of the family at Anfield.
"Our job now is to identify and recruit the right person to take this Club forward and build on the strong foundations put in place during the last 18 months."
Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner said poor results in the Premier League meant he was forced to act sooner rather than later.
"Kenny came into the Club as Manager at our request at a time when Liverpool Football Club really needed him. He didn't ask to be Manager; he was asked to assume the role. He did so because he knew the Club needed him.
"He did more than anyone else to stabilize Liverpool over the past year-and-a-half and to get us once again looking forward. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.
"We are committed to delivering success for our supporters and our ambition remains resolute to return this great Club to the elite of England and Europe, where it belongs."
Liverpool’s home form has been a particular problem this season, with the Reds picking up just six wins to go with nine draws and four defeats at Anfield.
Their final league position saw them finish 37 points adrift of eventual Premier League champions Manchester City and level on points with Fulham in 9th.
The 61-year-old also drew criticism for his stance over Luis Suarez’s eight game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra this season.
Dalglish returned to the club for his second spell as manager in January 2011, taking over from Roy Hodgson after the current England boss oversaw the Reds worst start to a season in over 50 years.
The Scot has come in for criticism over his dealing in the transfer market, with expensive buys such as Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson failing to live up to expectations.
Former director of football Damien Comoli paid for his role in Liverpool’s flawed approach to the transfer market with his job last month, while numerous other backroom staff members have left their positions at Anfield recently, including communications chief Ian Cotton.
While Liverpool lifted their first piece of silverware since the 2006 FA Cup with victory over Cardiff in the Carling Cup final, defeat in the FA Cup final against Chelsea earlier this month cast their season in a different light.
The Merseyside club have spent close to £100 million over the past 18 months but have seen little return on their investment, with the club’s owners said to be particularly aggrieved at how far away from a top four finish Liverpool ended up.
Speaking last week, Dalglish refuted claims in the media that his job was at risk, saying he accredited the club’s American owners with too much ‘intelligence’ to believe the rumours.
"I expect the owners to have more dignity and integrity than to believe a story in a newspaper,” he added.
Dalglish has won nine league titles, three European Cup trophies, three FA Cups and five League Cup triumphs during his combined 15 years of service as a player and manager at the Liverpool.
Reports suggest Dalglish was asked to move back into a behind-the-scenes role but declined.
In a statement on Liverpool's website the former number seven said:
"It has been an honour and a privilege to have had the chance to come back to Liverpool Football Club as Manager.
"I greatly appreciate the work that Steve, Kevin, the players and all of the staff put in during my time and feel proud that we delivered the Club's first trophy in six years winning the Carling Cup and came close to a second trophy in the FA Cup Final.
Of course I am disappointed with results in the league, but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the Club to be back winning trophies.
"Whilst I am obviously disappointed to be leaving the football club, I can say that the matter has been handled by the owners and all concerned in an honourable, respectful and dignified way and reflects on the quality of the people involved and their continued desire to move the football club forward in the same way as when they arrived here.
"I would like to thank all of the staff at the Club for their effort and loyalty. I said when first approached about coming back as Manager that I would always be of help if I can at any time and that offer remains the same.
"Finally, I want to put on record my heartfelt gratitude to Liverpool's fans, who have always given me and the Club their unwavering support. Without them neither the Club nor I would have achieved anything."Dalglish’s last game in charge came on Sunday, with Swansea inflicting Liverpool’s 14th defeat of the season with a 1-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.
Former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, Wigan’s Roberto Martinez and ex-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez are all in the frame to replace Dalglish.