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Lee back at Liverpool as Benitez bolsters local links – (SN)

SoccerNews in English Premier League 16 May 2008

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Rafael Benitez has moved to bolster Liverpool's local links by bringing homegrown former midfielder Sammy Lee back to the club as his assistant manager.

Lee, 49, who was sacked as Bolton manager in October 2007, returns to his native city following the departure earlier this month of first-team coach Alex Miller to take up a management job in Japan.

As a former player with Liverpool Lee won the title, the League Cup and European Cup during the 1980s before taking on a role as reserve coach and then first-team coach at the club under Graeme Souness and Gerard Houllier.

Benitez, who has not had anyone with the formal title of assistant manager since his compatriot Paco Ayesteran left shortly after the start of the season just gone.

The Spaniard has been criticised at times for failing to continue Liverpool's 'bootroom' tradition of the backroom staff having long-established links to the city and the club, and he tacitly acknowledged as much in his comments on Lee's appointment.

“We are very pleased to have brought Sammy back to Liverpool because he is someone who knows the club really well,” Benitez said. “He also knows about the passion of the club and about the standards that we set here so that will make it much easier for him to settle into his new role.”

Benitez insisted, however, that Lee had not simply been appointed on the strength of his broad Merseyside accent.

“Sammy is a very experienced and very well respected coach in his own right and his reputation in football made him the outstanding candidate when we knew we were looking for a new member of our coaching staff.

“He will add something different to what we already have and it will be good to work with him.”

Lee initially left Anfield to maintain his coach role in the England set-up, before taking over as assistant manager and then the replacement for Sam Allardyce at Bolton.

He was unable to continue Allardyce's success at the Reebok stadium and was dismissed as it became clear that Bolton were facing a fight for Premier League survival, which they won under Lee's replacement, Gary Megson.

Lee said he was delighted to be “back home.”

“When a club the size of Liverpool comes in for you, and when a manager of the magnitude of Rafael Benitez wants you, then you cannot say no. When I found out they were interested in me I was really thrilled.

“After the sabbatical I have had I just wish the season was starting tomorrow, but the players have had a long, difficult and demanding season and they need to get away and get their batteries recharged.”

He added: “I think the club have made great progress over the last few years and they were so close to having a great season this time around. Hopefully we can keep improving and get to where we all want.”

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