How’s that Messiah working for you? He shouldn’t.

by Ian Ford

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Three games into his miraculous return to Liverpool, “King” Kenny Dalgish is yet to taste victory. His record stands at two defeats and one draw and, but for the clumsiness of Tim Howard in giving away a stonewall penalty yesterday, it might well be three losses on the trot.

For those who thought the Scot’s biggest asset in being appointed was the ability to give the players and Anfield faithful a lift — thus ensuring a short-team bounce in results — the past week has truly been a reality check. He’s given the lift alright, but no bounce so to speak. And that’s troubling because, make no mistake, a man who hasn’t managed at all for 11 years isn’t going to bring a revolution in coaching in the medium to long-term; so that bounce was his biggest pro when set against the case for hiring another manager.

And that’s the point. Roy Hodgson’s sacking was the right call. He inherited a wealth of problems, but by the end of his reign the majority of players weren’t playing for him, the football was turgid most of the time, and things were getting progressively worse, not better. Quite apart from all this, John W. Henry and his Fenway Sports Group will have seen attendances start to drop and Liverpool, literally, cannot afford to let that happen.

So yes, as much respect as I have for him as a manager and individual, Hodgson had to go. Where I think the owners have erred is in appointing his replacement.

I found the clamouring for Dalgish to return as manager by the majority of Pool supporters utterly baffling. Put bluntly, the longing for a messiah to save the club is beneath one of Liverpool’s history and stature (and that takes a lot to write, as a United fan). It’s an affectation I just about expected of Newcastle fans when they craved the return of Kevin Keegan — delusional people, with an over-inflated sense of their club’s importance, that they generally are — but Liverpool? You can do better.

There are many problems on Merseyside, and Dalgish’s nostalgic warmth and tireless enthusiasm — infectious though they may be — are not going to solve them. What they need is a proper coach with a modern understanding of the game and a willingness to embark on a full-scale rebuilding of a side that has become unforgivably average in recent times.

Of course, they may well get this come the summer. And none of what I’ve written will matter if Dalglish is indeed just a stop-gap till then. But if he isn’t. If he does, truly, as many fans wish, become the permanent manager of a club that should be setting its sights on transforming the club from the bottom up, then the level-headed scousers should worry.

I’ve seen enough, particularly in yesterday’s derby, to suggest the Scot’s sheer force of personality will improve the club gradually to the end of the season. They should, despite the absence of the results bounce this week, avoid relegation. But sheer personality will not ultimately be enough if they want to set their sights higher than that, which they will and rightly so.

If Liverpool are truly to return to the glory days, they should start by dispensing with the services of a legend from that time, as planned, and get a manager in who’s been practicing his profession in the last decade. It seems a terribly odd thing to say — and I’ll no doubt be told that, as I’m not a fan, I don’t know what I’m talking about — but Liverpool deserve better than their legend.

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  • DJ

    You’re right. You will get told, because you’re talking bollocks.

  • thomas

    Well thought out piece, with a very good point. Its also nice to see a level headed fan of an opposing side (Man Utd no less!), making measured points and respecting our club. Something we could do with seeing more of all round.

    As a Liverpool fan I am inclined to agree with you for the most part. It takes more than just a manager swap and a legend to turn a loosing side into instant winners. In my heart I hope that Kenny can get the job on a permanent basis, but only if he can make a measurable difference to the club between now and May. In my head I think we probably need some fresh blood, with a real vision and philosophy about what the club means in the 21st century.

    I suppose only time will tell.

    Good piece.

  • RedDan

    I can see what you’re getting at, but isn’t that why he appointed Mourhino’s number whilst at Chelsea, Steve Clarke, the day after getting the job to handle the coaching side of things.

    Fergie has always coveted a strong number 2 to handle the coaching side, Kidd, McClaren and Carlos. When he didn’t have one, United finished 04/05 empty handed, which I don’t think is a coincidence.

  • trader

    Hes a temporary manager, not permanent.

  • 18T5EC

    Hes only been in charge for 8 days for gods sake??

  • JJ



    fair enough, but you are forgetting the fact that kenny has brought in steve clarke as 1st team coach – a man who earned many plaudits at chelsea very recently and was regarded as instrumental in putting mourinhos plans into effect with his coaching.

    its not as though kenny has left himself out to dry here. Any shortcomings in tactics and perceived lack of knowledge of the modern game has surely been addressed with that appointment.

  • pablo

    “a proper coach with a modern understanding of the game ” Ian Ford
    “some fresh blood, with a real vision and philosophy about what the club means in the 21st century” thomas

    do either of you have a clue what you’re talking about? sounds to me like you’ve been reading too many newspapers and watching too much sunday supplement…once you’ve managed to define your terms, perhaps then you could provide specific evidence as to why KD is lacking in that regard (whatever that may be exactly)?

  • Jay Wright

    The problem is that Dalglish has switched to a far more suitable system for the team, but so far has failed to make the necessary changes to personnel, and so far is continuing with the same senior players that failed both Hodgson and Benitez.

    If he sticks with the 433, but dumps the ageing and below average performers such as Kuyt, Maxi and Skrtel out of the team, all of a sudden we’ll look a far more vibrant and imposing beast!

    A team of,
    Reina, Johnson, Kelly, Agger, Aurelio/ Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles/ Babel, Torres, Pacheco supplemented by Jones, Wilson, Kyrgiakos, Poulsen, Shelvey, Cole, N’gog etc on the bench, though not perfect, would immediately have us climbing the table, while playing a far more attractive brand of football than we’ve seen so far to boot!

  • Ryan

    I stopped reading after you said you were a United fan. Utter nonsense.

  • lebon

    im june lfc appointed a manager and the latter failed to deliver the goods ……in january he is sacked and been replaced by the second best at the june 2010 assessment ……what is written more about this issue is only rubbish .

  • Blindside

    Sorry I didn’t know we were supposed to be up in the top four after 8 days! Give us another 24hrs and we ‘ll try and make the CL— smiles.

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