Saturday, 8 January 2011
Pride and passion back at Anfield. An exciting 6 months lie ahead for Liverpool, but Dalglish is not a long-term solution.
Officially it is an interim appointment, but Dalglish’s popularity at Anfield will mean he could prove difficult to unseat, if Liverpool’s form improves, or if, miracle upon miracles, the team can finish the season with a trophy.
Back in June I wrote about the respective merits of Dalglish and Hodgson, when it emerged that one of the pair was likely to take over from Rafa Benitez. As I saw it, one candidate for the job represented optimism and the other resignation. Kenny could boost morale and get the players playing exciting football, while Roy was better placed to manage a team in decline.
Since then the club has had a change of ownership, John W Henry and New England Sports Ventures replacing Hicks and Gillett. It’s early days, but it seems that Liverpool FC is now on a far sounder financial footing. Although the transfer kitty is likely to be small in comparison with Manchester City's or Chelsea's, managed decline is no longer an option.
The owners were right to dismiss Hodgson. Had there been the least sign of improvement under his tutelage, had there been even the faintest hint of how he planned to revive the club, then the manager would have deserved time to implement his plans.
The problem was that there was only one direction Liverpool was going under Hodgson. His system didn’t work, the style of football he preferred made Benitez look gung-ho and he signed some of the most mediocre players ever to take to the turf at Anfield.
His legacy is Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky. A pair of journeymen so average that it is hard to understand how he could even imagine that they would contribute to a club of Liverpool‘s stature.
Therein lies the problem. If the club had remained crippled by debt, if it had had to scrimp by for the next few seasons, a shadow of its former self, avoiding relegation and perhaps aspiring to a place in the Europa Cup, Hodgson was the man for the job.
With even moderately competent owners, that can never be Liverpool‘s fate. Despite the haste of some so called experts to write it off, despite all the bitterness and envy which built up over decades of success, the club is still an institution of world football.
Less than six years ago it was a champion of Europe. Go back less than four and it was in its last Champions League final. Two years ago there was a concerted push for the league title, which failed despite a healthy total of points.
After one and a half poor seasons and a struggle with debt which has been successfully resolved, it is manifestly absurd to claim that the club should reassess its ambitions.
Liverpool can and should compete for honours every single season, without fail. That needs to be the goal of the owners and the manager. Forget all the nonsense talked by people who hate the club and want to see its decline - the supporters do have a right to expect better.
Whether Dalglish can deliver, I don’t know. His appointment is exciting, but I am a little apprehensive. His last spell in management was in 2000 and that was in the Scottish League.
There will be no lack of pride and passion at Liverpool under King Kenny and the backing from supporters will be absolute. Still, fairy tale endings rarely happen in football. The sport is cut-throat and realism usually prevails.
Liverpool is still in disarray, thanks to Hodgson, his predecessor and the previous owners. Realistically its problems will not be resolved by the summer and, I‘d love to say otherwise, but I doubt they‘ll be resolved by Kenny Dalglish.
A young, modern manager is needed, with the technical know-how and vision to build Liverpool for the long-term.
There lie ahead six roller coaster months under KK. They’re sure to be exciting. But I hope that the club uses them to consider who is best placed to mastermind a genuine revival, starting next season.