Roy Evans today parted company with Liverpool, the club he has served for 35 years. At a news conference at Anfield, Evans and chairman David Moores made the announcement, with joint manager Gerard Houllier taking sole control of the club.
Moores said: "Today is a sad day for Liverpool and me personally. We have agreed by mutual consent that Roy and Doug Livermore, his assistant, are leaving the club. I would like to pay tribute to all he has done for the club for 35 years. I offered Roy another position at the club but he has chosen to have a break. I could talk for hours about Roy and my respect for him."
Evans said: "I'd like to thank the chairman and board for the support they have given me. I have felt over the past three or four weeks that things have not been working out. That was always uppermost in my mind. I dispute my record is one of failure. At any other club it would be a success but not at Liverpool. Our biggest regret is that we could not achieve success for the people who work at the club. I would like to pay tribute to the players at the club. I know they are capable of winning something."
Asked why he refused to take another post at Anfield, he said: "It would be easy to stay but to give Gerard and his team a chance you have to walk away. To be fair to the club, to Gerard, it is right to walk away. Evans was asked if it was fair that he took the blame for failure. It is not a matter of one man taking the blame. It is what is in the best interests of the club. I went into the partnership with Gerard with my eyes open and hoping it could work. "It hasn't worked. Results have not gone our way. Initially I went to the people upstairs (the board) and said I did not think it was working out. Something had to be done in a positive manner. It is difficult to do but it is not about personalities. It is about Liverpool Football Club. I don't know what I will do. I just want to get this over today. I cannot imagine working at another club. I am 50, not exactly old and not ready for the dustbin. I want to relax a bit. I want this club to get on - that is the most important thing."
Evans explained why he refused an upstairs role saying: "I was offered another job at this club but I didn't want to hang around as a ghost on the wall but the spirit of the boot room boys will live on."
Asked about his highlights at Anfield as manager he said: "Winning the Coca-Cola Cup. It was a dream of mine to become manager. I gave it my best shot but it wasn't good enough. The club is dear to me - it needs to be back up with the best." Almost in tears, he added: "It is not about the relationship between me and Gerard. It had nothing to do with personalities. It just did not work out. You just feel it is not the right formula for players. They do not know who the boss is. It has not just the last two results that have brought this to a head. It is the last few weeks. You can't just let things run and run. "I am delighted I took the job but I am sorry it did not work out. I dispute my record is poor. It is reasonable by more clubs' standards but this a not like most clubs. The players have always tried. It is not about them. It is about what we do as a club. I have the greatest respect for them. Our record is only second to Alex Ferguson if you go on the League - not winning trophies. I think the players are gutted but my message to them is to show what ability they have and keep their heads up."
Moores added: "We have to go forward. It is sad for me personally because I have known Roy as a teenager but you have to think of the club. it always comes first. It is a massive, massive club. We are looking at winning things. We have to look ahead and hopefully that is the route we will be taking. It has been very hard to part company. We had a good chat, it won't affect our friendship."
Moores confirmed that Phil Thompson will be joining the club and said: "Phil is passionate about the club and desperately wants success. Losing Roy is not ending the Boot Room tradition. We have Sammy Lee here still."
Houllier, who will be in sole charge against Leeds United at Anfield on Saturday, sat alongside new assistant boss Phil Thompson and said: "This morning was one of the saddest and most emotional moments of my Liverpool days. I spent some time with Roy in my office, knowing that was the end of our partnership. We did not want to get to that situation. I left France to come to Liverpool because I was asked to bring some changes. I accepted on one condition, that I worked with Roy. That was how the partnership started. After a few months we came to the conclusion that it was difficult to work. Not on a personal basis, but for the players, not knowing who was the boss, who they had to refer to. The people we had to deal with, the staff, did not know who to talk to. I appreciate this was difficult. I would have preferred Roy to stay longer. I would have preferred it had he stayed for the year or maybe longer, but I have to respect that decision. Being the sole manager I asked if we could have an assistant manager who had a Liverpool heart if you like, a Liverpool figure. They recommended Phil. I am not going to cheat, I am not going to tell you I have known Phil for a long time.
I knew him as a player. In fact we had a talk in Valencia for the first time. It was funny to come back to it again last night. I decided to take Phil, a former captain here, a former coach here. There will be one manager, though - we do not want to make the same mistake again. We have under-achieved here. The objective is to come back to the winning ways as soon as possible. That can only be achieved with more effort and concentration, better discipline. To be fair after an emotional response this morning, things picked up. "We need some players. It is not easy because there is not a lot around. We do need some players and I have the assurance that I have the financial backing for that."
Thompson said: "I think most people realise this is one of the greatest days of my life. I got a shock yesterday when I was about to take part in a five-a-side. I was getting changed when Peter Robinson phoned. That's the way it happened. It was a major, major shock to me. I thought my time had passed. I have been involved in the game but not at this level. Roy has been a friend of mine for a long time. But it is an opportunity that I could not have turned down. I thank everyone for having faith in me. The players are passionate but maybe a bit of a change is needed to push it along. I was very, very nervous when I went to meet Gerard. My passion for Liverpool has never diminished. I always hoped that one day I got the chance to come back to Liverpool. Nothing would give me greater delight that help turn things round. There is only one thing that matters and that is the success of Liverpool Football Club. There might be a few hearts getting broken. There are hard days ahead but we can only go one way and that is upward. I'd like to think and hope that the appointment will give the club a boost and I hope the fans will welcome me back to the club."
Houllier spelt out his immediate plans. "The next game (against Leeds) is the most important one. Maybe things have not been going too well. Maybe we need to improve the fluidity of the game. We need to get some players in to reinforce the team. We are here because the players did not kick the ball the right way. We cannot kick the ball for the players. Roy's departure was not ideal but this is life. You have to face up to it and cope with it. It was easy for Roy and I getting along but it was difficult for the players. I wanted a coach, I wanted someone from Liverpool who could coach. Phil was a coach and a successful one when he was here in 1992. That is why I wanted him here."
Thompson added: "At least six or seven of the players here were here when I was last at the club. They know I can coach. I know I was a good coach. A lot of people say 'Phil Thompson, nice fella.' I am not going to take a whip out to players but I think the appointment is to add a bit of steel, add a bit of passion to the club. It may be to give a bit of a kick up the backside."