Warning: Please read with caution if you are a Liverpool fan. For the majority of you, you will disagree with me. For those don’t disagree, you will probably feel incapable of agreeing with me because I am a “bitter blue”. But rest assured, these views are not just those of an Evertonian but shared by most football fans throughout the country.
Kenny Dalglish was a fine player. Many will say he was the greatest player that Liverpool Football Club has ever had.
He also managed the club to success and through one of its most turbulent times off the field during the Hillsborough tragedy.
For all the above, he has credit in the bank with the Anfield faithful. He will always be “King Kenny”. But I’m afraid that doesn’t make him the right man to take the club forward.
He currently stands as the bookies favourite to be the next Premier League boss to get the boot. With Alex McLeish and Terry Connor still in situ, that’s some achievement.
I have argued in a previous article that his media-relations aside, I felt he was doing a decent job. A work in progress. Over the course of the second half of the season, it is difficult to maintain that opinion.
He returned to the club as manager in a blaze of glory.
Liverpool had been on the slide for a while. After a promising start, Benitez’s tenure became one of failure and in-fighting, whilst the appointment of Roy Hodgson was a disaster from day one.
The club was on its arse. Unbelievably, they were hours away from financial meltdown.
Hicks and Gillett then went and Roy Hodgson wasn’t far behind them. The place needed a lift. The fans needed something or someone to pin their hopes on and without a moment’s hesitation, Dalglish cut short his holiday and was back in the hot seat.
The fans were overjoyed to have “one of their own” back at the helm. The man they believed should have been given the chance before Hodgson was appointed.
It was originally on a caretaker basis but it soon became apparent it would be a case of when rather than if the role would be made permanent. And here lies the problem.
In hindsight, what should have happened was that Dalglish should have steered the club through until the end of the season before returning to his ambassadorial role upstairs.
But he didn’t and now the owners are left with the most uncomfortable of decisions.
A season in which you win a trophy should never, ever, be deemed outright failure. But following the weekend’s debacle and the long run of defeats the club is currently enduring, it’s difficult to call it a success.
Do Liverpool look any better equipped to mount a title challenge than they did under Souness, Evans, Houllier, Benitez or Hodgson? The answer is no.
I always felt his signings may click as the season progressed and they would make a charge up the league. The exact opposite has happened. Those signings have let him down badly but that can’t be a plea for mitigation. They were his signings after all and he must accept responsibility for them
Let’s go back to when Benitez was in charge and his predecessor Houllier.
Both enjoyed cup success that helped to paper over the cracks but ultimately failed due to an inability to beat “lower” opposition, an over reliance on Steven Gerrard and a transfer policy that ensured top dollar was paid for players who ultimately failed.
Liverpool were never going to win the league this year. Infact it was unlikely they would even challenge but what Liverpool fans needed were signs of improvement. I don’t think they’ve got it.
With a new man at the helm and a substantial outlay on players, Liverpool fans had every right to expect improvements. They’ve been short changed.
You question the signings and the diehards will tell you all about net spend and how they got £50m for Torres so in reality, only paid £15m for Carroll, blah, blah, blah. He’s a football manager not an accountant. His job is to assemble and coach a squad capable of winning the league, not balancing books. He’s failed.
John Aldridge was commentating on the Wigan match for local radio and produced a statistic which showed that had the season started on 1st January, Liverpool would currently be in a relegation dog fight.
Forget cup success for a moment. That’s not good enough. That’s nowhere near good enough but what can the board do?
Sacking Hodgson and bringing Dalglish in as manager, was the first major decision for John Henry and his board. To get the fans behind them from the get-go after the disaster that was Hicks & Gillett, it was a masterstroke.
It was an appointment for anyone of a romantic disposition, with a club “great” dragging the club back from the brink. But now his legendary status is a problem.
You see for most, Dalglish will always be “King Kenny” and is therefore Teflon. Can the board honestly sack a club legend? Probably not but if they really do have designs on moving forward, they can’t afford to miss out on the Champions League for too much longer either.
For every year they fall backwards, the climb to the top gets greater.
It will be interesting to see how this season is perceived across the pond. The credit in the bank I mentioned above and the Carling Cup success may mean he deserves another season in charge.
Whether the American owners’ patience will allow that, is open to debate.
They may very well finish the season with another trophy but the league form can’t be ignored that’s for sure.
You can roll out all the old clichés about Rome not being built in a day etc but to use another, sometimes you can be flogging a dead horse (sorry Carroll, no pun intended)
Some point to Chelsea as a good example of why you should stick with your man. The revolving door to the manager’s office certainly hasn’t produced the success it was hoped. But challenging for a top 4 place and looking to progress to a Champions League Semi-Final isn’t bad either.
Despite having previous, his stubborn nature means it’s difficult to imagine him walking away.
But maybe in the year of the Queens Jubilee, for the good of the club he loves the most – not to mention his health and wellbeing - the time has come for the King to abdicate his crown.
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