With speculation growing that Roy Hodgson will be appointed Liverpool manager in the not too distant future, it is fair to assume that an exodus of Rafa Benitez’s backroom staff will also begin. Hodgson is widely believed to want his assistant and goalkeeping coach Mike Kelly with him at Anfield, but with Sammy Lee still occupying the assistant managerial role at the club even after Rafa’s exit, will he be departing Liverpool once again?
Lee has been a tremendous servant to the club both as a player and as a coach, and he returned to Anfield back in 2008 as assistant to Benitez. Lee had spent 10 years as a player at the club before returning as a member of the backroom staff under Graeme Souness in 1993. He was kept by Souness’s successors, playing ever more important roles for both Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier, becoming first team coach under the French manager. He left Anfield to take on a full-time role with England in the same summer as Benitez’s arrival, before returning to club football as assistant manager to Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers.
He had a brief but unsuccessful spell as manager at the Reebok stadium after Allardyce left for Newcastle United, and he was sacked after only two months of his first full season as permanent manager. His return to Liverpool as Benitez’s assistant seemed a logical choice. Rafa needed an assistant after the departure of Pako Ayesteran and Lee knew the club inside out as both a player and coach. He is a member of the backroom staff that Roy would do well to keep on at the club.
For starters, despite Roy’s undoubted experience, Lee’s insight into the player’s currently at the club and their deficiencies, could give the new management team an important head start in both assessing the squad and looking for new players who could improve the depth of the team. The assistant manager is also very popular with the players and if he was to leave for the second time, it might not go down too well with those still considering their futures at the club.
Of course if Mike Kelly was appointed as Hodgson’s assistant, there would certainly be a conflict in roles and perhaps Sammy could be persuaded to become first team coach, as our current one Maurcio Pellegrino is more than likely going to leave the club once the new management is in place. There is every likelihood that the Argentine will join up with former boss Rafa Benitez at Inter Milan along with goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero.
No doubt if Kenny Dalglish was appointed, Lee would almost certainly be staying on as assistant, but as with every appointment, a new manager always has his own way of doing things and prefers their own staff to come in. Out of all the backroom staff currently at Liverpool Football Club though, Hodgson would be very wise to keep Sammy Lee on at the club.
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