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The King's final fling?

GORDON STRACHAN was the immediate favourite.

Kenny Dalglish has rarely felt comfortable in the media's glare. Picture: EPA
Kenny Dalglish has rarely felt comfortable in the media's glare. Picture: EPA

Joe Jordan joined him as another frontrunner soon after, before talk grew of Billy Stark remaining in the job. Left-field candidates from overseas such as Sven-Goran Eriksson and Lothar Matthaus were also put forward as possible candidates. Amid all the speculation over who should be the next Scotland manager, there was very little chatter about the country's record appearance holder and joint-top goalscorer stepping into Craig Levein's shoes.

Kenny Dalglish would seem to tick all the boxes required of an international manager these days but, until the weekend, was not someone being widely considered for the vacancy at Hampden. He is out of work after leaving Liverpool at the end of last season, a "good age" for the job at 61, and has a welter of managerial experience behind him. If the Scottish Football Association's successful candidate must also demonstrate an understanding of what the job is all about then Dalglish's record is untouchable; 102 caps and 30 goals during a period when Scotland qualified for World Cup finals with regularity.

The widespread assumption following Levein's removal was that Dalglish simply wouldn't be interested in managing his country. Just as Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes could be quickly discounted on the grounds that nobody would leave a post in the Barclays Premier League for the salvage operation that is the Scotland manager's job, the initial reaction whenever Dalglish's name cropped up was that he would have little appetite for it. After all, he had never previously given any impression that he might be interested in trying to see if he could replicate the success he enjoyed as a Scotland player. Perhaps, with his achievements looking all the more impressive given the national team's recent travails, there was a part of him that did not want to put that legacy at risk.

Now, though, he is on the SFA's radar and is reportedly willing to hear what they have to say. It would make sense on both fronts. Dalglish would be a high-profile appointment who would help put bums on seats for the remainder of a World Cup qualifying campaign that otherwise holds very little appeal for disenchanted supporters. He has never been one for bold, uplifting speeches – his quiet, wry observations are never likely to be used on promotional billboards – and would be a reluctant PR man on those occasions when the Scotland manager has to somehow lift the sagging spirits of a nation. A showreel of his playing days, however, would say more than any words could about his commitment to his country. Here is a guy, the footage would demonstrate, who knows what playing for Scotland means, who could inspire others. Sentiment and nostalgia are rarely solid grounds on which to make any appointment but Dalglish has enjoyed enough success as a manager to make him worthy of consideration on that basis alone. If money is not a sticking point – and presumably he won't be cheap – then it would be remiss of the SFA not to invite Dalglish for an informal chat at least.

"Kenny's a legend, an icon for young Scottish footballers," Kevin Gallacher, the former Scotland international who played under Dalglish at Blackburn Rovers, told Herald Sport. "Players would listen to him. He's the kind of manager who can get 10 or 20% more out of players as he's such an inspirational figure."

What would be in it for Dalglish? His return to the dug-out at Anfield put paid to the assumption that he had slipped into early retirement, content to enjoy the quiet life, and there may be enough desire left for him to consider taking on one more challenge. It is difficult to see him returning to club management which may make the Scotland vacancy more appealing. If there was one job he would have considered after a decade away from management, it was the Liverpool one, the club to which he is inextricably linked. He was already working in the youth academy and serving as an ambassador when Roy Hodgson was sacked and so his return seemed a natural one.

It was not the glorious homecoming, though, that many Liverpool fans had hoped for. He won the League Cup but that feat was overshadowed by poor results in the Premier League, the failure of too many expensive signings to live up to price tags, and the Luis Suarez racism row. It would have been humiliating for Dalglish to have been sacked in the manner that he was – particularly given his achievements as a player and in his first stint as manager – and there may be a feeling that he doesn't want a blemish to be the last entry on an otherwise distinguished cv. Rescuing his country would be a more satisfactory way to bow out.

"He got the management bug back at Liverpool and I would imagine he would approach the Scotland job with similar enthusiasm if he got it," added Gallacher. "It's a lot different from club management with less focus on the day-to-day stuff but maybe this is what Kenny feels he needs at this point in his career."

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