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The Anfield contenders

As Rafael Benitez struggles to avoid the axe hanging over his head after yet another week of turmoil at Anfield, Soccernet examine those contenders who may eventually replace him.

Liverpool have a history of remaining faithful to a manager while the season is still progressing, so any deal may wait until the summer, but their current form suggests that Benitez's time is likely running out and already a host of managers have been linked with his job:

The favourite: Guus Hiddink. The Dutchman is one of the most revered coaches in the game having worked wonders with Australia, South Korea and Holland, while he also proved himself in the Premier League during his stint with Chelsea. He thought long and hard about a return to England when Manchester City came calling and, even though he is still under contract with Russia, appears to be keen on taking another job in club football. Most recently, he has been linked with the Juventus job, but the pull of Anfield could be greater if he gets the blessing of his friend and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

The legend: Kenny Dalglish. Unquestionably one of the only men who could cool the fans' ire at the current situation, the Anfield legend left the Liverpool job too early and ultimately regretted it. His reign ended with his resignation in 1991 and left Graeme Souness in charge, but Dalglish has since claimed he would have ''gone back like a shot'' if he had been asked. Now an academy director and club ambassador he would be a popular choice, but there are question marks over how he would adapt to a game he has not been involved with in a managerial capacity since Celtic a decade ago.

The 'Special One': Jose Mourinho. Having already shown with Chelsea that he has the ability to manage successfully in the Premier League, the current Inter boss has never hidden his desire to return to England but has also courted the job at Old Trafford. Still viewed as one of the best young managers in world football, he would be an interesting choice at Anfield given his history of clashes with Benitez. It would also be interesting to see the fans' reception for him. Mourinho has already claimed that he won't be leaving Inter during the season, so the Reds would have to wait until the summer to get their man and may also have to sell the club to a rich investor if they are to tempt him.

The owners' choice: Jurgen Klinsmann. The German boss was at the centre of a storm around rumours that he was approached as a replacement for Benitez back in 2008. Klinsmann has since claimed that the club have ''too laid back an attitude'' and that they lack consistency and quality. But is he the man to bring it? Benitez slammed Klinsi's credentials, claiming his managerial experience was ''short,'' but the owners may have a different impression if they can overcome the embarrassment of their previous efforts. He has currently decided to take a break from the game and return to the USA, but says he could be persuaded to take on another role after the World Cup.

The British bet: Martin O'Neill. It would be quite a move if the club could persuade O'Neill to put the brakes on his good work at Villa Park. Probably the best British manager in the game - Sir Alex Ferguson aside - O'Neill is a master at getting the best out of his players but, having never managed one of the top clubs in England, he may be tempted. That said, the stability of American owner Randy Lerner at Villa contrasts acutely with the situation in the boardroom at Anfield and many may argue that he has more of a chance of success with his current club.

The outsider: Frank Rijkaard. The former Barcelona boss has attacked Liverpool's ''ugly'' style of play in the past, and remains one of the best exponents of the free-flowing game around. His work at Galatasaray has lifted the club into title contention this season after they suffered a disappointing year in 2008-09 and his standing in the game is still high after his impressive title haul in Spain. However, the fact that the Dutchman is currently trying to tempt fellow countryman Ryan Babel to join him in Turkey suggests that he may not harbour much desire to leave.


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