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Why FSG are betraying Liverpool values with bumbling manager search

So this is all it takes? Forget the trophies, the European experience, the years of building successful teams. For Liverpool today, it's enough to beat the Premier League drop in consecutive seasons - playing decent stuff along the way - to qualify for the manager's job.

Roberto Martinez is an excellent, young coach - and a great guy to boot. But less than a decade ago, the Wigan Athletic boss would never have been considered for the Reds post. For Gerard Houllier, think France and PSG. For Rafa Benitez, it's Valencia and trophies. Even the maligned Roy Hodgson arrived with a CV boasting of Inter Milan and World Cup experience.

Now it's enough to keep your team in the Premier League. If not Martinez, then it could be Swansea City's Brendan Rodgers. Another great, young coach. But like his Spanish rival, is someone who should still be a move away from making the leap to Liverpool.

The manner of Fenway Sports Group's manager search is also doing the club no favours. Flying managers into the 'States for 'interviews'? It's unheard of in football and puts Liverpool's reputation at risk of ridicule as candidates distance themselves from the process. Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Frank de Boer (Ajax) and Didier Deschamps (Marseille), have all said 'no'. Rodgers has already turned down one approach and Martinez is now leaning towards staying at the DW.

The perception will be the Liverpool job is no longer coveted by the game's best and brightest. But even if a top manager was eager, FSG must be savvy enough to realise that no coach is going to risk putting their board and fans offside by travelling across the globe for talks with a rival club.

So what qualifies Martinez or Rodgers for the Liverpool job? Is it really good enough for a club of Liverpool's size to be a testing ground for an up-and-coming manager?

Before Gerard Houllier arrived at Anfield, he'd been coaching for over 22 years. Martinez and Rodgers' Premier League experience is less than three years - COMBINED!

Those arguing the case for a young manager at Anfield will point to the imminent appointment of Louis van Gaal as football director. FSG want someone in the Van Gaal mould to work with a young coach. And it could still work.

But in Van Gaal, Liverpool will be getting a personality which is the polar opposite to predecessor Damien Comolli.

The best sports directors currently in the game are happy to sit in the background. Klaus Allofs at Werder Bremen, Frank Arnesen, formerly of Chelsea and now with Hamburg, rarely volunteer their opinion publicly. You can't see Van Gaal doing that.

He's a big, outspoken, straight talking character. He'll be fantastic for the club's profile, but there must be a risk for a young coach - whoever it is - becoming overwhelmed by the Dutchman's personality. For the shadow of Kenny Dalglish looming over Hodgson, try multiplying that ten times for Van Gaal and the poor sod who has to work under him.

The great irony for Reds fans is that neither Martinez nor Rodgers would've come close in the FA's reckoning as they chose Hodgson as new England manager.

Liverpool's opponents will say 'welcome to reality'. After years in the wilderness, you're getting the manager you deserve. But for all their problems in recent seasons, there's few other clubs capable of spending £100 million inside 12 months and selling out stadiums across Asia.

Liverpool FC still matters. But for all the goodwill afforded John W Henry and co since their arrival, the patience of the Kop isn't unending. After a catalog of public gaffes, the club needs a big win with their new manager - and the appointment to be pursued and made in the traditions of a great past: decisive and behind closed doors.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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