One of my first articles on Football FanCast was defending Roy Hodgson as a manager after a torrid several months in charge of Liverpool FC. Whilst the article focused more on Hodgson rather than Liverpool, I did have a dig at his successor, Kenny Dalglish. I was sceptical over the hype of ‘King Kenny’ returning to Liverpool, with the optimism that was around the club with the saviour returning to turn fortunes around. Now all my scepticism has lifted after what Kenny has done since he was appointed interim manager at Anfield, but does he deserve the full time job?
When Kenny Dalglish was appointed caretaker manager after Roy Hodgson’s departure, it filled the Liverpool fans with some hope and excitement (which had been missing for a while given the previous year at the club) and raised eyebrows amongst other football supporters. I was excited to see Kenny Dalglish make a return to football management but I couldn’t help think of Kevin Keegan’s return to football at Newcastle United and I started to worry that things may get even worse for the Reds.
However, unlike Keegan who had been focusing on non-football ventures before his return, Dalglish had been keeping up to date with the modern game. The first highlight would have to be employing the now commonly used 4-3-3 formation, along with the pass and move emphasis that’s in Liverpool FC’s DNA. The players certainly responded well to this more positive style of play rather than the rigid 4-4-2 that Hodgson favoured.
The appointment of coach Steve Clarke actually made me take the appointment of Kenny Dalglish seriously. I highly rate Clarke as a coach and feel that he played significant role in Chelsea’s success under Jose Mourinho, it was unfortunate that Clarke wasn’t able to replicate that with Gianfranco Zola at West Ham. This appointment ensured that the Liverpool players are coached by one of the best in the game, leaving Kenny to focus on other aspects as manager, like the youth development.
What finally made me eat a big piece of humble pie was hearing Kenny’s focus on the youth development at the club. He has shown faith in Martin Kelly with regular starts, whilst also giving a few players from the youth set-up an opporunity to train with the first team. Plus the bold move of adding talented teenager, Raheem Sterling to the Europa League squad showed that Kenny Dalglish is prepared to go the extra mile to turn this club around.
Whilst laying foundations to give the club its identity back and making sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, Dalglish has been able to record some instant performances and results on the pitch from his players. In the Premier League form table, Liverpool currently sit 3rd behind Arsenal and Chelsea, with 4 Wins, 1 Draw and 1 Loss in their last six games. And despite the blip against West Ham, the Reds have been able to win on the road with victories at Wolves and Chelsea.
Liverpool are currently 6th in the Premier League table and were able to bounce back from the defeat at Upton Park with a 3-1 victory of their own over Manchester United on Sunday. It made my mind up that Kenny Dalglish has to get the full time job in the Anfield dugout. Although it’s only been 2 months, Kenny has proven that he has what it takes for the club to progress and the thought of the club appointing an outsider in the summer to take over would be a backwards step.