There is currently a revival under way at Anfield under the management of Kop idol Kenny Dalglish, the home coming of the prodigal son has seen a transformation at all levels for the Merseyside giants. With European qualification now a very realistic possibility for Liverpool after what can only be described as a disastrous start to the 2010/11 season, everyone is applauding the influence of the Scot, but in amongst all the adulation for King Kenny, should some praise be reserved for fellow Scotsman Steve Clarke?
Steve Clarke, throughout his career as a right hand man, has earned a reputation as the one the players go to for advice or any problems, ultimately summed up by the former Chelsea manager and colleague José Mourinho: “If he had the chance to manage a club, even a big club like Chelsea, he would be ready for that. He is that good. He is an intelligent guy and always looking to improve. He is very open to co-operation and learning. He has a good relationship with the players, knows how to handle them. I think he is much, much better than many managers who are in charge of teams at the moment.”
Clarke is renowned for his defensive knowledge and is rumoured to be the reason behind Liverpool’s recent use of three centre backs in certain games, that has proved very prosperous for the side, such as during the hard-fought victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. On top of this, the increasing confidence of the young Martin Kelly and the inspiring performances of Glen Johnson suggest the former Chelsea and West Ham assistant manager is having a more profound impact than he may have been receiving credit for. Sorting out the defence has been Liverpool’s enigma this season, but under Clarke’s management it is starting to look a lot easier.
Like every story there is always another side, and despite Clarke’s apparent role as the unsung hero down Anfield Road, you have to remember he was the assistant manager at West Ham when they nearly got relegated: where were his ‘unsung hero’ qualities then? Perhaps this has something to do with the ‘good cop, bad cop’ ethos; Dalglish and Mourinho are strong characters, whereas Gianfranco Zola, who was West Ham manager during Clarke’s time at Upton Park, is a very calm and placid character, very similar to Clarke, not allowing a balance to be struck between the two personalities.
Overall, no one can underestimate the impact that an Anfield legend such as Kenny Dalglish can have, but I’m sure Clarke will soon get the recognition from Liverpool fans if things continue to go as well as they have recently. Maybe even a song for him?