A potentially intriguing ‘second front’ opened up this afternoon as fevered speculation regarding Paul Lambert’s future plans continued.
Alex McLeish’s abrupt departure from Aston Villa yesterday afternoon immediately saw the City chief installed as the bookies favourite to replace the former Birmingham chief with Wigan’s Roberto Martinez likewise slammed in the frame.
Today, however, one or two seasoned observers were turning their thoughts towards Merseyside as Liverpool chief Kenny Dalglish discusses his future with the club’s Boston-based owners, Fenway Sports Group.
Nominally it is just an end-of-term report to the club’s two, principal decision-makers – owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner.
But with the Reds having already parted company with their ‘director of football’ – Damien Comolli – in April, there is a clear need to rebuild the management structure at Anfield ahead of a renewed chase for Champions League football next season.
That has already found Martinez’ name thrown into the hat with Dalglish potentially returning upstairs to that now vacant ‘director of football’ role.
Martinez was at pains to play down the link.
“When you get stories linking clubs with your players or in this case with a manager, it must be because you have done something right,” the Spaniard told The Wigan Observer this weekend.
“We cannot control speculation and, I am not going to lie to you, I like the speculation. I see it as a real compliment. Speculation will follow a team – you get good speculation and bad speculation.
“The speculation I don’t like is when it suggests you are going to lose your job after a couple of defeats.”
Today and the speculation centred on Martinez nudging ahead of Lambert in the race for the Villa post – just as another potential ‘Situation Vacant’ opened up at Anfield.
Given the esteem in which Lambert holds Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish and the way that Dalglish, in turn, might view Lambert as a natural heir apparent if mentored in the ways of Merseyside for a season or so, it could be an ideal match.
Equally, it would ensure that Liverpool’s US-based owners don’t have to sack the Reds legend; he can quietly return to the boardroom free from the day-to-day hassles of touchline management. He might view that as a younger man’s game.
Dalglish is also due to go on his summer holidays tomorrow and will, therefore, be keen to know where his own future lies before jetting off. He was joined in the US by his No2, Steve Clarke. An official statement was expected out of Anfield later this afternoon.
Though he delivered the club’s first piece of silverware in six years with that Carling Cup triumph, Liverpool ended the season with their lowest league points total since 1953-54.
Last night and supporters attending Norwich’s end-of-season dinner will have left knowing little more than anyone else with regard to Lambert’s intentions.
Football had taught him, he said, to never look much beyond the next week or ten days – let alone to guarantee where anyone might be come August 1.
From the club’s position, both chief executive David McNally and chairman Alan Bowkett both stressed that they would fight ‘tooth and nail’ to keep their man at the helm.
That said, however, it was clear that life would continue should Lambert himself decide the time was ripe for a change after three, extraordinary seasons at Carrow Road.
“Have we got a Plan B? Absolutely,” Bowkett told last night’s audience.
On previous form, the Canaries will not spend their summer interviewing the world and his wife for Lambert’s successor. A surgical strike for their ‘Most Wanted’ looks to be the new ‘modus operandi’ – as they demonstrated to Colchester United’s cost.