Liverpool Football Club have been living off their past glories for far too long. The most successful club in the history of English football, with 18 league titles and five European Cups, have now failed to win the league for 20 years. The club have struggled to emerge from the shadow of their own wonderful achievements throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, failing to make an impact in the modern, vibrant setting of the Premier League. Following a dismal seventh placed finish last term, the club have now turned to well-travelled manager Roy Hodgson in an attempt to bring back the glory days to Anfield.
Hodgson is not fearful of the past and believes the club’s illustrious history should be embraced and harnessed to help build a better future for Liverpool. The manager’s latest plan to awaken the sleeping giant of the North West, following a summer of change, is to reconnect with the club’s roots and the ethos brought to the club under the management of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. The new Reds manager is enthusiastic regarding plans to install Kop legends Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalglish as fully-fledged members of the club’s board in a proposed shake up behind the scenes at Anfield. Hansen and Dalglish won virtually every honour at the club playing under both Paisley and Joe Fagan from 1977 and such a decision would be a popular one with supporters.
Londoner Hodgson certainly believes the duo can have a positive influence on the club and is keen to revive the famed Liverpool tradition of old which dates back to the start of Shankly’s reign at Anfield in 1959. Shankly, a founding member of the legendary boot room, instilled a concept known as ‘the Liverpool way’ into the club’s philosophy, helping shape the club’s fortunes for years to come. Liverpool’s unwritten code of conduct protected the club’s inner sanctum and has been continually cited as a major influence behind the club’s success throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. This was somewhat lost under the reigns of Frenchman Gerard Houllier and, in particular, former Valencia coach Rafael Benitez who often used the media as an intermediate for airing his grievances with the club’s owners. This now looks set to be rejuvenated under Hodgson.
Sadly the boot room tradition, which looked to train and promote former players and coaches from within, was lost following Roy Evans’ departure as the club’s manager in 1998. Remnants of the boot room still remain with Dalglish and Sammy Lee still at the club today, but its main components have largely been lost. Hodgson wants to strengthen the clubs connections with the boot room by offering Dalglish an enhanced role as head of football development and Hansen a major say in the boardroom.
The former Fulham boss was keen to emphasise the importance of Kop idol Dalglish in his attempts to rebuild the once great club, telling the BBC shortly after his arrival:
“When you have a resource like Ken it’s best to use it properly,” commented Hodgson.
“I believe Ken can make the perfect bridge, with his football knowledge between the academy and the training ground, and we should never forget the very important role he will always do as an ambassador. There are so many roles that man can play to help Liverpool FC and that will outlive my tenure at the club. There’s no question about that.”
Of course a club with Liverpool’s history should not attempt to cut all ties with its past and offering Dalglish and Hansen a role in a new era for Liverpool is a positive move by the club. Dalglish, the last man to bring the league title back to Anfield, is a living Liverpool legend and the club’s ability to keep him after he missed out on the manager’s job is a major bonus for The Reds. Just as Sir Bobby Charlton is a great ambassador for Manchester United, Dalglish can perform a similar role on Merseyside for the next 15 years or more. Former centre-back Hansen’s insight and knowledge of the club would make him an ideal appointment. The Scotsman, who lifted eight domestic titles and three European cups during his glittering Anfield career, is almost synonymous with Liverpool and would be a welcome appointment, although issues remain over his contract with Match of the Day.
Kopites will be fully aware of chairman Martin Broughton’s attempts at a PR exercise following the disastrous tenure of American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Broughton is keen to re-establish Liverpool’s traditional image and having Hansen and Dalglish on board would make it easier for him to do this. Reds fans however will be as keen as the club’s chairman to forget the warring which has marred the club’s iconic image over the past two years and would welcome an increased role for Dalglish and Hansen with open arms.
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