Fenway Sports Group have given manager Brendan Rodgers the chance to stay on as Liverpool manager and prove last season’s disappointments were the exception rather than the rule. Assistant manager Colin Pascoe and coach Mike Marsh, though, were not as lucky, and whether they are actually to blame for a disappointing season or are no more than convenient scapegoats in an attempt by the owners to appear decisive while keeping on a manager many fans expected would be gone, the result is the same.
Either way, the result is the club will need a few new coaches, and the rumbling is that the owners want to bring in a very familiar face to replace Pascoe as Rodgers’ assistant: Sami Hyypia. The big Finn, who made nearly 500 appearances for the club over a decade, is regularly ranked the club’s top defender of the Premier League era, and if the goal is to distract fans upset over last season’s failings with a shiny signing or two, the arrival of Hyypia would work nearly as well as bringing in a big name on the transfer market.
It also could be a legitimately smart move for a club in desperate need of a little defensive solidity. Hyypia was never the fastest or most skilled defender, but he read the game brilliantly and in his final years at the club took on a nearly player-coach role for the Reds. Moving to Bayer Leverkusen for his final two seasons as a player saw him continue in such a role, and when he retired he moved straight into the assistant manager role for the German club.
A year later, he was Bayer’s manager. He only lasted two seasons, but he helped guide Bayer to third and fourth in the Bundesliga and managed them in the Champions League. This past season, he spent six-months with Brighton and Hove Albion, resigning in December following a string of poor results. As a manager, then, it’s clear he’s still learning. As an assistant manager whose specialty is coaching the defence, though, he would be a legitimate candidate to replace Pascoe even without the Liverpool connection.
The one concern could be that the presence of a fan favourite as Rodgers’ second in command—particularly one many would see as having been installed by the club’s owners—could undermine his position, and a string of poor results to start the season could even see fans calling for Hyypia to take over. So there certainly is a rather large potential downside. His experience, though, as a coach and defensive specialist, as well as his connection to the club, make him a very compelling candidate.
Meanwhile, fellow former Liverpool player Bolo Zenden, who played for the club between 2005 and 2007 and was Rafa Benitez’ assistant during his short spell at Chelsea, has been suggested as a possible replacement for Marsh.
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