Kenny Dalglish replacement: The contenders

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Liverpool have begun their search for a manager capable of restoring the club to its former glories, after owners Fenway Sports Group decided Kenny Dalglish was unable to deliver the success they crave.

The club legend led the Reds to victory in the Carling Cup last season, their first trophy for six years, while Liverpool also made it to Wembley for the final of the FA Cup.

But Dalglish paid the price for Liverpool's form in the Premier League, where they failed to so much as flirt with a top four finish despite an outlay of over £100 million in the transfer market.

Despite only an eighth place finish last term and no Champions League football on offer, the Liverpool manager's job can still be considered one of the most prestigious in the game, and there will be no shortage of candidates for the role.

GMF outlines some of the early frontrunners to succeed the King and mount the Liverpool throne...

Andre Villas-Boas

This time last year, Villas-Boas was the most coveted young manager in football, having guided Porto to unprecedented success both at home and on the continent.

Liverpool were linked with the 34-year-old at the time, but it was Chelsea who paid the £15 million in order to release Villas-Boas from his contract with Porto.

However, Villas-Boas' time at Stamford Bridge was not far short of a disaster, as he battled with fractures behind the scenes and poor results on the pitch.

Yet the Portuguese is still held in high regard and, according to The Guardian, is among the list of targets that Liverpool have created since Dalglish's departure.

Like the majority of managers on the shortlist, Villas-Boas is young and philosophical and plays a brand of attacking football encouraging vibrancy and exuberance.

However, previous reports have claimed that Villas-Boas has already agreed in principle to succeed Luis Enrique as Roma boss.

Odds: 2/1

Roberto Martinez

The Wigan manager has seen his stock rise further following a fine end to the season in which he guided the Latics to safety and took the notable scalps of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Yet this run of form cannot disguise Wigan's failings earlier in the season, when they suffered eight successive league defeats for the first time in their history.

Martinez is, however, an impressive figure and his man-management has enabled him to squeeze the best out of a limited squad, albeit not particularly consistently.

The 38-year-old is perhaps the most sought after manager currently plying his trade in English football, but his appointment would certainly represent a risk for Liverpool.

If some reports are to believed, FSG's quest for a manager with a league title on his CV will see them overlook Martinez. However, he remains second favourite with the bookmakers.

Odds: 7/2

Brendan Rodgers

When Swansea were promoted 12 months ago, some bookmakers suggested it would be more likely to discover Elvis Presley was alive and well than for the Swans to retain their Premier League status.

But they did so, and particularly comfortably, and it was the brand of football adopted under Rodgers that led to so much respect and admiration for the team from south Wales.

After a botched start to his managerial career with Watford and Reading, Rodgers could have been on the scrapheap in his mid-30s but has significantly enhanced his reputation at the Liberty Stadium.

The 39-year-old is the epitome of the type of dynamic young manager FSG are supposedly after but, like Martinez, his lack of major success may count against him.

And, with only one season in the Premier League under is belt, taking the Liverpool position may come too soon for Rodgers.

Odds: 5/1

Rafael Benitez

Perhaps the only curveball in the list of candidates, the odds for Benitez to return to Anfield have been slashed dramatically since the sacking of Dalglish.

Benitez left the club in 2010 by mutual consent after Liverpool had limped to a seventh place finish in the league, but is still held in high regard by the fans after his achievements during a six year tenure.

The 52-year-old won the Champions League and FA Cup with Liverpool, and took them agonisingly close to the Premier League title in 2009.

After a failed stint at Inter Milan following his Liverpool departure, Benitez returned to live in the area and would love the opportunity to manage the club once again.

Whether or not Bentiez fits into the criteria FSG have set out in their search for Dalglish's successor remains to be seen, but he can boast a more impressive CV than most of the other candidates.

However, the Spaniard has the undesirable reputation of being particularly profligate in the transfer market, and spending may be restricted this summer.

Odds: 6/1

Jurgen Klopp

Klopp surely ticks more boxes than any other candidate, but the Borussia Dortmund manager may be the most difficult to appoint.

The 44-year-old has won back-to-back Bundesliga titles with Dortmund, and secured the league and cup double for the first time in the club's history with victory over Bayern Munich last weekend.

Klopp's achievements have been all the more impressive due to his relatively shrewd operating in the transfer market, and willingness to rely on youth to achieve results.

Dortmund's style of football has also won them many admirers, and the way in which the sliced through Bayern in Berlin on Saturday demonstrated how clinical they can be.

Klopp, however, will represent an expensive option for Liverpool, with the club still paying for their previous managerial disappointments.

Persuading Klopp to take a relative step down, when considering the European competitions both sides will feature in next season, may also prove a tough task for FSG.

Odds: 12/1

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