There was euphoria in the red half of Merseyside this January when Liverpool owners, Fenway Sports Group, announced the appointment of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish as manager for the remainder of the season. As a player, the Scot won three European Cups with the Reds and he was the last manager to lead Liverpool to the title. Since he returned to his beloved Liverpool, Dalglish has transformed a struggling side into one which is currently oozing confidence. It’s no coincidence that Liverpool’s change in fortunes has coincided with the appointment of the Kop idol. A win against Tottenham this weekend will guarantee European football on Merseyside, a prospect which seemed a million miles away at Christmas time.
Many sceptics would have initially viewed Dalglish’s appointment as a sentimental move by Liverpool’s new owner John Henry and one that had the potential to tarnish Dalglish’s reputation. Others will have taken the viewpoint that, no matter what would have unfolded this season, Dalglish wouldn’t be culpable and his god like status would have stayed intact at Anfield. However the move to bring back King Kenny has proved to be a stroke of genius from Henry. The American owner instantly gained the support of all those Liverpool fans who were calling for Dalglish’s appointment. Was the appointment a risk? Potentially yes, as Dalglish hadn’t managed in the Premier League since 1998, where he had a forgetful stint in charge of Newcastle. This posed the question if he would be up to the task of managing again, especially considering how much football has changed since his last tenure in the dugout.
I think the question has been soundly answered so far. Dalglish’s very presence in the dressing room has lifted players who, under Roy Hodgson, were disillusioned and languid. His introduction of youth players and the quality signings he made in the January window, albeit aided by Damien Comolli, have propelled Liverpool up the league. At sixty years old, stepping back into the pressures of football management will have come as a shock to many people outside of Liverpool. Some said a manager of his age will be out of touch with the requirements of a manager in today’s game, others said going back to Liverpool for a second time would a mistake. How wrong those assumptions have been.
What Kenny has done for the club since January is nothing short of miraculous and it has gone some way to dispelling the myth, that he wouldn’t have what it takes to manage in the modern era. He has also disproven suggestions that managers should never go back to a former club. In the case of Kevin Keegan who returned to manage Newcastle in 2008, going back proved to be a huge mistake. However Dalglish’s return to Liverpool has been a complete contrast to Keegan’s, although, having to work with Mike Ashley may have something to do with that.
Returning to the helm as Liverpool manager is something Dalglish probably never thought would happen again, but when the club came calling in its hour of need there was only ever going to be one answer from King Kenny. Dalglish has proved that returning to the club where he had so much success as a player and manager has been the right decision. Surely the next logical step is rewarding him with a permanent contract for the astounding job he has done?
FootballFanCast.com WORLD Exclusive, Robbie Savage’s Face in a Baby Scan