Liverpool’s snub a great disservice to one their legends

In his new book Dalglish in his own words, Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish has revealed that he was overlooked for the vacant Liverpool manager’s job when Rafa Benitez was sacked by the board in the summer. Dalglish wrote:

“I had to let them [the board] know my real views. I wanted the job. I couldn’t miss the opportunity.

“One day, I was in a meeting with Christian and the chairman [Martin Broughton], and I formally put my name forward.

“‘We don’t want you, Kenny’, came the reply from Christian and the chairman. Fine. That’s their –prerogative.”

Instead, the Liverpool hierarchy decided to appoint former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson as the new Liverpool manager but their decision to not even consider Dalglish for the manager’s job is a huge disservice to a man who has become synonymous with the club during his fifteen years on Merseyside.

Dalglish arrived at Anfield in 1977, bought by manager Bob Paisley to replace Kevin Keegan who had moved abroad to play for German side Hamburg. And replace him he did as Dalglish quickly won over the Liverpool faithful and became a Kop legend in his own right. He was arguably the best player in a dominant Liverpool side that were the toast of domestic and European competitions. In his time as a player, Dalglish amassed an incredible haul of honours including 6 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 4 League Cups and 3 European Cup winner’s medals.

Following the retirement of Joe Fagan after the tragedy of the Heysel stadium disaster, Dalglish took over the helm at the club in a player/manager role and steered the club from the nadir of Heysel to continued domestic success. He clinched a league and FA Cup double in 1985-86, his first season in charge and he went on to win the league twice more with Liverpool in 1986-87 and 1989-90. Tragedy struck once again for Dalglish during his time at Liverpool as he was manager at the time of the Hillsborough disaster which claimed the lives of 96 people.

Since resigning from the Liverpool job in 1991, Dalglish has had spells managing at Blackburn where he won the Premier League, Newcastle United and Celtic but former boss Rafa Benitez offered Dalglish an opportunity to return to his beloved Liverpool in 2009 to oversee youth development while also being an ambassador for the club.

Dalglish accepted the role but he is a football man at heart. His ambassadorial role doesn’t satiate that desire of day-to-day contact and interaction with the players that he was so used to in his managerial days. Maybe the board were worried about Dalglish’s mentality as both his football career and personal life has been chequered with tragedy. Not only was he part of the Liverpool side which had to come to terms with the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters, he was battling personal strife as his wife Marina battled with breast cancer.

With Dalglish already occupying a role within Liverpool’s boardroom, there is the risk of tension developing between Dalglish and manager Roy Hodgson as Dalglish had expressed an interest in his job before he was appointed. However, Dalglish had been nothing less than professional and has moved to alleviate any fears over his relationship with Hodgson. In his book, Dalglish says he “fully respects” Hodgson and that he is willing to help Hodgson “in any way [he] can” to restore Liverpool back to the glory days that Dalglish enjoyed as a player and manager at the club.

Recent developments at Liverpool have threatened to diminish the identity of this most venerable club. First there was the decision by previous owner David Moores to sell the club to American businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillett who have left the club ailing in desperate need of a buyer to avoid the devastation of administration. The two owners have reduced one of Europe’s great clubs to a financial opportunity as they hold out for an unrealistic £500m bid. Then there was the forcing-out of Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry by owner Tom Hicks. Parry had spent 12 years at the club but had increasingly come to blows with Hicks and Benitez over transfer policy.

Hicks and Gillett then installed self-confessed Chelsea fan Martin Broughton as club chairman to oversee the sale of the club. By doing so, Hicks and Gillett have attempted to eradicate any trace of passion and history from the club, treating the club merely as a business transaction rather than the embodiment of the loyalties and passion of half a city.

Broughton consulted Dalglish over the appointment of Hodgson but he would have failed to realise how intrinsic Dalglish is as a symbol to Liverpool football club. Hodgson has proven that he is an astute tactician during his time in European football and more recently with Fulham but there will be many on Merseyside that would have been happy to see Dalglish back at the helm of the club he so clearly adores.

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