Kenny Dalglish undeniably has plenty of credit in the Liverpool bank of goodwill: his 500-odd appearances and countless medals mean that his status as Merseyside royalty has long since been assured. A disappointing season at the helm of his beloved Reds, however, has cost him job. Whilst he did guide Liverpool to some silverware this term, a Carling Cup victory represented a meagre return on substantial spending since his return to the club. Having seen the 61-year-old struggle to get the best out of multi-million pound signings like Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, Liverpool's owners understandably baulked at the prospect of allowing Kenny to open the chequebook once more this summer.
Who, then, could Liverpool turn to to replace him? Common opinion is that owners Fenway Sports Group prefer a young, energetic manager to drag Liverpool into a new era. If this is the case, they could do worse than Roberto Martínez. A studious, thoughtful man, the Spaniard again guided a limited Wigan Athletic side to safety this year, and has been praised for his commitment to attacking football. Having turned down an approach from Aston Villa last summer, he may feel that now is the perfect time to take on a new challenge. For this reason, he is the joint favourite to be Liverpool manager come 1 September, at 2.50.
Also at 2.50 is André Villas-Boas, who has been out of work since being sacked by Chelsea in March. A key figure in Porto's all-conquering 2010/11 season, the former protegé of Bobby Robson and José Mourinho will have been hurt by that failure and would surely love a second chance in English football. At 34, he certainly fits the profile, but questions could be asked over his ability to take on another high-profile job at this stage of his career.
One man not lacking in experience is Rafael Benitez, who is at 8.00 to return to his former stomping ground. Jobless since a troubled spell at Internazionale in 2010, he is believed to be desperate to return to the Premier League. His track record at Anfield certainly counts in his favour: he led Liverpool to a famous Champions League victory and domestic title challenges. His old rival José Mourinho is an interesting outside bet, incidentally. He can be backed at 20.00.
Another man in contention at after a strong season is Brendan Rodgers (8.00) The Swansea City manager is certainly in demand this summer, but his reported desire to stay in Wales means that better value can be found elsewhere. The names of Martin O'Neill and Didier Deschamps (both 15.00) often crop up when managerial vacancies open up, as does that of Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is priced at 75.00.
If Liverpool decide to defy expectations and appoint from within, Jamie Carragher (100.00) could be a candidate. This, however, will surely only be a last resort. Whilst top-quality managers are a rare commodity at the current time, a club of Liverpool's stature should still prove attractive to many in the game. Whoever follows King Kenny will hope that they are provided with the money - and time - to stamp their authority on Merseyside. One thing is for sure: jobs like this require a strong personality.