A Defence of the Realm – Part One
HARRY REDKNAPP’s Spurs have won just one in their last nine and are fifth in the Premier League. Until about six weeks ago ‘the greatest living Englishman’s’ season looked unimpeachable. Third in the table and mounting a challenge to the Manc duopoly, he appeared nailed on for the Manager of the Year thing. Now he faces a season potless and is pissing in the Champions League qualification wind.
He hasn’t won an away match this year, and since Santa dropped his sack the campaign’s become a right old balls up for Harold.
Still the press pack love him. Still Sky love him and, most significantly, the FA are so desperate to appoint an Englander that they’d have hired him for the big job and let him name his sides over the phone, direct from the jug, armed only with his last 20p. If only Her Majesty had had the pleasure.
King Kenny’s Liverpool may finish seventh or eighth, with one trophy won, in the final of another, and a season of three Wembley appearances to reflect upon.
Unbelievably though, Dalglish will be planning his summer vacation while still unsure of his long-term employment prospects.
Against this backdrop there are some eternal truths that need dusting down and forcing again down throats. So, once more, for the benefit of the young, the old, the media, expertry of all denominations, and those who simply haven’t been paying attention – this is Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish we’re talking about here.
He’s a man who doesn’t fail lightly. When he does, it always makes him stronger. Failure is to Kenny as spinach is to Popeye. It rejuvenates and propels him back out there twice the man.
Failure must always punctuate success. It’s necessary to define it. Without its humbling reference achievement seems shallow. If it’s a prerequisite and crucial ingredient, it follows that it needs to be planned and prepared for every inch as much as for the glorious triumphs ultimately desired.
The greats know how to fail. To belly flop, roll and ride the punches. To take the pain but stand tall against the strain. To walk on through that bloody rain, Godammit.
Kenny Dalglish knows this drill. His legendary Boys’ Own career is peppered with moments sent to test. His story is a cyclical and a neo-biblical one of rise- fall- redemption.
I was speaking to some (unjustifiably) smug Tottenham fans recently – they mocked that Dalglish was our ‘Keegan or Hoddle’ – the implication being that supporters were blinded to actual prowess by iconic status in club folklore. Kenny as vanity folly.
There’s a difference though between Kenny Dalglish and other club’s sacred cows.
In the last 100 years, only five human beings have as managers won the English Championship four times (or more). Only two have accomplished that feat with two different clubs.
Kenny Dalglish is one of those titans.
He is also the man to have most recently joined that elite of two. Of the big five (Chapman, Busby,Paisley, Ferguson and Dalglish) only Alex Ferguson has reached the precious four-title mark more recently than Dalglish.
Those needing to diminish the accomplishment will suggest that Dalglish inherited an all-conquering team.
It is true that Paisley and Fagan had been winning silverware for fun at Liverpool in the years that preceded Dalglish’s stewardship. However, it is worth countering that Kenny took on the management job at LFC on the back of the club’s first trophyless season in nearly a decade, with a team that had aged and was being dismantled.
Of the great defenders of the Paisley-Fagan era, Dalglish was to see minimal to no service from Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, Mark Lawrenson or Phil Thompson. He did not inherit the team that enjoyed both himself and Graeme Souness as superstar fulcrums. Within 24 months of taking the manager’s job only four of Kenny’s main 14 players had been inherited from predecessors.
More significantly perhaps it is worth noting that Dalglish the coach was handed the baton at the managerially pubescent age of just 34 with no leadership experience whatsoever, and on the back of the club’s (then) darkest hour following Heysel (85).
Some more context – Rafa Benitez is correctly revered by the majority of Liverpool fans. The Champions League win of 2005, the Cup win a year later and the second place finish with 86 points in 2009 were memories supporters of most clubs can but dream of.
But Rafa’s six-year tenure was not strictly marked by a seamless ascent. Yes, of course, the European Cup was bagged against all odds at the end of his first season, but in win percentage terms he actually trails the Dalglish Mark II reign’s first 68-game record.
No one with their senses intact would have shown Rafa the door at the end of his first 68 games (even if you don’t factor in Istanbul), yet by the time Rafa had clocked up his first 68 he had a win percentage of 47 %.
Dalglish doesn’t have a European Cup yet but he’s won slightly more football matches – 49% of his 68 matches. Three visits to Wembley and possibly two trophies aren’t shabby returns for a first 18 months’ work either .
Let’s also recall that the team Dalglish was bequeathed in January 2011 was one lying 13th and a handful of points points off a relegation place. Rafa may quietly be eternally grateful to his predecessor Gerrard Houllier that he did actually manage to scrape his lumbering latter day Liverpool side into fourth place and a Champions League qualifying position at the end of the 2003/04 season.
Both Dalglish and Benitez were given some funds in their early period and the net spends are quite comparable, unless we apply inflationary factors.
Although some may argue that Rafa in real terms had the greater net acquisition of players it is pertinent that Djibril Cisse was not a player he directly selected and that significant asset, Michael Owen, was not sold at the peak of his value.
Rafa’s first 68 included some notable scalps at the very top of the European game – Juventus, Chelsea and AC Milan. Kenny’s equivalent period is marked by no less a series of famous victories against teams of similar power – Man Utd (twice), Manchester City (twice) and Chelsea (twice).
Both Rafa and Kenny could boast victories over Arsenal in their early reigns, but Kenny can point to three straight derby wins (and a draw) to Rafa’s one from two. Notwithstanding the incomparable winning of the European Cup by Benitez, all in all there’s an even stevens feel to any comparison of the two manager’s early machinations.
Despite this parity, Dalglish faces weekly questions about his team selections, his grasp of tactical fundamentals, criticism for a lack of goals, and is slaughtered for most of his recruitment of 2011.
Such is the breadth of scope of criticism you’d be hard pushed to keep in mind the respectable 49% win percentage and two cup final appearances. The club’s time honoured mission statement – to win trophies – now apparently not an applicable benchmark. Silver is it seems a devalued commodity.
Even amid the euphoria of January 2011 when the grey clouds of the Hodgson era were replaced with the heaven-sent sun beam of Kenny’s second coming, there were unspoken anxious mutterings that despite Dalglish’s iconic status, he may, in the face of modern day football’s harsh reality, actually be yesterday’s man.
The 12 years since he’d been in top-flight management may have diminished his powers and antiquated his methodology to the point of near extinction.
Kenny’s Napoleonic first 100-ish days dispelled most initial doubts. By May 2011 he’d taken Hodgson’s 13th best team in the country and turned it into the Premier League’s third best performing team (in points per games terms). Kenny was back. Kenny could play three at the back. Kenny could do 4231, 442, 451. Kenny’s team was tactically flexible. Kenny’s team could defend, score goals, keep the ball on the deck, and play some of the freest flowing stuff we’d seen at Anfield, since, well, Kenny.
All this without official best player Steven Gerrard (injured) and having lost Gerrard’s other half, Fernando Torres. All this with a typical midfield of Maxi, Spearing, Lucas and Meireles. As far a cry (on paper) from ‘Alonso, Gerrard, Mascherano and Sissoko’ as one could pick from a list of great Liverpool midfielders of the past 20 years.
So, Kenny was back. Not withered by time. Sharp and savvy as ever. Suddenly those four league titles didn’t seem so long ago. Despite a more mixed bag of results over the first six months of the subsequent season (the current one), by the beginning of February 2012 as Liverpool lay fifth and within a point of a Champions League place (and in a domestic cup final for the first time in six years), things still looked very much on course.
What has happened recently has not been pretty. There’s no sugar coating that two wins in 11 league games represents the stuff of nightmares for a team and a manager with the loftiest of ambitions. Kenny has gone from canny to clueless in a matter of weeks – from peerless to pathetic in the eyes of many of the more gleeful press predators.
It matters little to many that this sorry league run has actually been punctuated by four crucial cup wins (including final and semi final wins), nor that Liverpool were desperately unfortunate to lose some of the league matches in that dreadful run (the recent travesty of a defeat at West Brom’s hands emblematic of a truly perplexing season).
It has been posited since the league slump set in that ‘relegation form’ is de facto unacceptable and proof positive of a busted flush. The corollary is that no mitigation can be provided by silverware or its imminence. This view, like others that are precipitously rushing to abdicate the King, would do well to note the following selection of periods of unadulterated ‘relegation form’ served up by some greats of yesteryear :
1980/81 – 2 wins in 9 – Bob Paisley
1981/82 – 2 wins in 8 – Bob Paisley
1984/85 – 2 wins in 11 – Joe Fagan
2004/2005 – 3 wins in 11 – Rafa Benitez
The sacking of Damien Comolli in March suggests that even the club’s top brass may be getting their heads turned by a horrible spring.
It undoubtedly grates that Kenny is now forced to justify his work with reference to the fact that despite the fall away in the league that the season has still born witness to the return of good ol’ fashioned trophy-winning.
The apt witch hunt that drove Roy Hodgson from the Anfield kingdom after just six months as a Liverpool manager may have blinded too many to one of the club’s most cherished of traditions – giving an appointment trust and time.
Even since the glory days became a distant a set of memories, modern day Liverpool custodians such as Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez proved worth the wait. Both good men with track records in the game, who, came, saw and left their marks on the club’s history, and repaid allegiance with legendary campaigns and plenty more shiny metal vases.
Dalglish deserves to be cut more slack than Roy Hodgson. Much more. He deserves at least as much time and patience as Gerard Houllier was indulged. Rafa too. This would be so had his return seen only a modest improvement on Hodgson’s record. Yet Kenny’s more than fulfilled the initial stabilising brief.
He’s written part of the club’s story once again. If those that stand in judgement deem that he must leave soon, he goes with his reputation intact and his legacy unblemished. He’s prevailed in his own glorious past, has succeeded since and, never doubt this, has the power to do so in the future. The fear must remain that if he goes now we will never see his like again.
That would be some shame.
nice piece. respect is due.
Why compare Dalglish tenure to Redknapp.. Concentrate on our own house. Dalglish’s transfer policy has been truly horrendous and negligible to the extreme. i’m all for optimism and positivity but i can’t help but feel it’s monumental blind faith because of who’s in the dugout. Poor buys, lacks tactical acumen, very poor media relations and the worst league campaign and home record since the 1950s. That’s the bottom line. Cups are a bonus. The league is the true barometer and test for a club and manager especially after such an outlay. Net spend is a myth. 117million spent. Real money. Primarily on mediocrity. No real set pattern or philosophy of play. A wing and a prayer in every game. The team can’t finish, What are they being coached in training. Where’s the tactical plan and ambition to change formation and tactics to try and utilise the players you have at your disposal. Try something different. Be innovative. The nuances of modern football have passed him by. Great man Kenny, but it’s so obvious he hasn’t got it. Great caretaker at the time but he shouldn’t have been given the job long term. Just my opinion. Great article and you put your case forward well but i have no confidence in the present coaching staff
I would have thought the comparison was obvious, however, if you need it spelling out, Kenny has a bad run and it’s a crisis, Harry has a bad run and it gets very little mention in the media, despite Harry spending millions on the team since he took over in October 2008 and having won fuck all. Like their close neighbours Arsenal, Tottenham have won fuck all.
In comparison Kenny takes over club that was near to extinction and had to be rescued from the most fuckwitted decision making of Purslow in a, getting rid of Rafa, b, replacing him with Hodgeson, C, getting rid of Rafa’s players and d, allowing Hodgeson to buy players over 30 on large and long contracts, as far as destructive chief executive go Purslow was the Fernando Torres of incompetence and egocentricity. While Hodgeson took us scarily close to relegation whilst playing negative, 11 players behind the ball hit and hope head tennis, Kenny transformed us into a flowing pass and move goal scoring machine and this was without Torres and Gerrard.
In addition to this, Kenny has won 1 trophy and is in the final of the another, Man City have spent millions and millions over the past 4 years and at the end of this season will have probably only one trophy to show for it, however, that is one more trophy than Spurs and Arsenal. The only people who say trophies are a bonus are those whom support clubs that win fuck all.
The league results have been disappointing but there have been very few matches when Liverpool have been outplayed, and any team that constantly plays well against the top teams and Everton has the potential to succeed. In 2005 Rafa’s team was lambasted for poor league form but won the champions league, if Kenny wins two cups in his first full season in charge then he may expect some praise, however, because he is Kenny Dalglish he will not get any, because he never got any praise as Liverpool manager first time around, he never got any at Blackburn and if you cannot get praise for taking a club from a Lancashire mill town to top of the premiership from the second division then a couple of cups is fuck all, unless of course you are Jose (I take clubs with loads of money from 2nd to first) Mourinho and Harry Redknapp. That is the bottom line, unless you suck up to sky and gobshites like Barclay and Samuels then you do not get praise in the media and everything that you do gets distorted to the point where it’s better to finish fourth than win two cups.
Regarding transfers Carroll, Henderson and Coates are all young and will get better; Downing has not performed and Charlie Adam was only £7 million, every manager buys shit players and every manager pays more than they should at times, look at the squads of the top teams and you will find this if you look. The difference is that Liverpool under Rafa and now Kenny get more scrutinisation and plebs that read Barclay, Samuels and other ‘highbrow commentators’ (sic) believe the propaganda.
It is true that neither Rafa or Kenny are as media friendly as Harry or Roy, but there again Harry and Roy have won as many trophy’s between them in Britain in over 70 combined years of management as Kenny has this season. Harry and Roy make a big effort with Barclay and sky because they need the media to say how great they are, Rafa and Kenny point to a cabinet full of medals. These pisses off, a certain type of journalist, and while some correspondent’s find press conferences with Rafa and Kenny hard work; I always saw them as comedy genius.
Finally, I do not have blind faith in Kenny, he makes mistakes like any manager does both tactically and with selections at times, however, for those that say Kenny has been out of the game too long then two cups is pretty good in a return season when you are still a bit rusty, perhaps Roy and Harry should have a 12 year break; in terms of winning trophies they may as well have had, and Arsene is it 7 or 8 years now? Rafa had a top four finish + good european campaigns but was castigated in large sections of the media because he never won a trophy since 2006, Kenny has the chance for two cups and he is castigated again in the same sections of the media for not having a top four finish. Why is this? or does it go in the why did Bob Paisley never get a knighthood bag?
‘Net spend is a Myth’… Please promise me you will never start a business.
Clearly dont know who this guy is! LOL
Good post and I’m in agreement that it would be premature to terminate KD after just 18 months. Even his biggest critics would concede that the football has been good most of the time this season – it has been the signings where it’s all gone awry for him (and more specifically the finishing of said signings). Who knows how culpable Kenny is for the recruitment of Downing, Adam, etc over the summer, but they’ve proven to be downgrades on the players he was deploying at the end of last season (Maxi > Downing; Meireles > Adam; and I’d also count Kuyt > Carroll). It’s also disappointing that the opportunity given to youth during last season has not been replicated in 11/12.
All in all, a lot to improve upon next season, but with signings that improve the squad rather than just make up the numbers, who’s to say that CL qualification is not possible next season.
I think one of Uncle Bob’s worst slumps was 82-3 when only one of the last eight was won…….still won the title by 11 points
Great article and the comparisons are there for all to see but so much has changed with social media and journalists plus the ‘I want it NOW’ feel in all walks of life !
In the days from Shanks until Souness everything we read was in magazines and newspapers and the club seemed to have a better relationship with Fleet St.
LFC have a had a tough time of it what with Suarezgate,Hillsbourough bashing, Hicks and Gillette, sacking of the darling of the press ‘Hodgson’ and Kenny has taken plenty of stick of what is not related to the kicking of a football.
It has been a bandwagon for the jouranlists who have jumped at the chance to write anything negative about the club and mask the true statistics that have been written in this article.
Kenny and LFC have got caught in this war as was commented on the Anfield Wrap by Ollie Holt on how newspapers are competing with twitter.
Kenny is doing as well as any other manager but as with Rafa the knives are out for the club and anyone associated with it,no matter what we win !
A beautiful piece Rob, many thanks.
Seems this site censors negative, constructive opinion. Sad realy
i fuckin love this article once again rob brilliant
Excellent article. Let Kenny manage and provide him with the support he requests.
Beautiful piece. Ending on a sad note however makes it feel like Kenny’s days are numbered. When you think back though, John Henry and Co. were extremely reluctant to sack Hodgson even following the dreadful performances against Wolves and Blackburn. They only relented following extreme pressure from the fans who were upset with, not only the results but, the way Hodgson had the team playing. I think that as long as they see the fans not turning on Kenny and believing in their project we have nothing to worry about. Interesting to see who replaces Comolli though.
Thumbs up mate! Good piece.
Rob Gutmann, Take a bow. Excellent piece mate.
Superbly written and couldn’t agree more.
Great stuff Rob. I’m with you on the street theatre too.
Fair play, Rob. While I don’t necessarily share your views on the comparisons between Rafa and Dalglish, I hope FSG are reading this, at least so they can make a balanced decision come the end of the season.
All good stuff, Rob.
But when you absolutely, positively have to middle-name a brother, spell it right!
Great article and alot of so called Liverpool fans should read we have always been known as very savy fans who knew their football and weren’t susceptible to knee jerk reactions like fans of other clubs but that seems to be sadly changing as some fans seem to believe everything the media say who seem to have a witch hunt against kenny take Oliver holt talking about Chelsea game against barca how it was a great game like final of 99 no mention of 2005 also how Terry will now miss the chance to win champions league like his England team mates Rooney scholes and ferdinand yet no mention of stevie g I hope the king is given time as he will bring us success which I believe he has done by playing some great football all we are short of Is great finishing
It’s official Istanbul has been expunged from the record books and no mention of Terry’s racism case of course. What’s the betting Lampard is pictured in a Tommy’s tin hat at some stage ??
I also see they scrap pre match handshake for QPR v Chelsea due to racism case no fear do same for Suarez game against scum just wanted another excuse to slaughter us in media
Wrong on this. Holt’s comments were in reference to great games at the Nou Camp. hence mention of the 99 final that was played there, while ’05 Istanbul was played in, well, Istanbul.
Not everything is a conspiracy, you know….
“Let’s also recall that the team Dalglish was bequeathed in January 2011 was one lying 13th”
But you conveniently forgot to mention in your Redknapp comparisons, that when he took over, Spurs were bottom by 4 points, with I think only 3 league wins between February and October.
So, bottom to 5th, (and CL football one season) as opposed to 12th (your article incorrectly states 13th..) to 8th..Hmmmmm
Come on now… jumping from the bottom to the top 5 at the start of the season only takes 2-3 wins. It is not as easy to do by the middle or the end of the season when the table is very congested.
Thats why I also mentioned Spurs from, not from the start of Ramos’ last season, but from the prior February -so a similar period to which Hodgson had.
A period over which results were far worse than Hodgsons, but which saw a much bigger improvement from Redknapp than Dalglish.
But,even comparing the relative form from August, Dalglish took us from 12th to 6th..a position which, when he took over, we lay 8 points behind with 2 games in hand. We now lie 8th. Below Everton, and closer to being a relegation team than a Champions League team. And as close to be being a relegation league team than we are to Spurs.
Redknapp took Spurs from bottom (by 4 points) to 8th, a position which when he took over they lay 10 points behind, with no games in hand. The next season they came 4th.
To me its clear who had the biggest improvement in results, but I guess theres lies, damned lies etc..
Absolutely brilliant, Rob. I have nothing more to add, as you said everything I’ve been thinking so eloquently and with more knowledge of the history of Dalglish’s tenure (past and present) than I have.
I do like Jake’s comments above though. “Cups are a bonus” and “Net spend is a myth.” That one really made me laugh. Because at the end of the day, we all only calculate our lives on what we’ve spent, not what we’ve made as well. So I suppose net spend is like the Lochness Monster? Nessy is a brilliant myth.
And if cups are merely a bonus, what’s the point of playing in the champions league? No point I guess.
The ‘If we’re not winning the league, we’re just crap’ mantra of some Liverpool fans is getting extremely tiresome. If they can’t see the big picture, then not sure what they support a team for. And if they don’t enjoy winning “bonus cups”, then they should support Everton. A team that never spends any money and never wins anything. Sounds like that’s what some fans want lately. No spending lots of money and no stupid cups!
BRILLIANT article Rob !!
When LFC fans ask me why we are slumped in our current predicament.. I tell them that the rot started way back in the 90s.. and we never recovered !!
Souness era brought in the change of players which proved detrimental in some areas.. though it was offset by the emergence of Academy grads like Fowler & Macca.
Evans era maintained the bootroom camaraderie at the cost of control over the players.. Flamboyancy negated a lot of good work done on the pitch.
Houllier era initated an overhaul with influx of European players who would otherwise not get a sniff at Melwood. Nevertheless, the leaning towards anything French or French-speaking brought its pitfalls.
Rafa era as touted, had always been a Rafalution.. a massive change from bottom up. Alas, poor Rafa met his match when The Board decided to point, then usher him to the exit door.
Hence the Roy era, short and surely not sweet. Coupled with the H&G war being waged.. The cull had to be swift and thankfully it came.
And now Dalglish era Mark II .. full of promise.. sputtering at the present.. but surely still offering some promise to come.. and perhaps even more with the right people leading LFC.. from owner to the Board.
IMHO.. a RED in Malaysia
Since 1990 Liverpool have won 12 trophys. We have finished runner -up in the PL 3 times, runner up in the Champions league. All this while being massively outspent by our rivals. This is what so called Liverpool fans call Rot.
The biggest dichotomy is results versus performance
If you look at how we have played over the whole season we have played well. the difference between the last 6months of last season and this is season is purely results.
Now I dont underestimate that results is the most important factor (see man utd peformances iffy, results good).
1) you play bad all season, you lose , you get the sack
2) you play bad all season, you win, your great
3) you play well the majority of the season, ???????
Yes we have a goal scoring problem but is the rest of it that bad considering we are work in progress?
If we get a goal scorer AND improve elsewhere then we could be frighteningly good?
This is why its best to give kenny time, not because of who he is but because the margin of failure this season is so slight (the width of the woodwork!!) and at least it is a consistent failure.
And one he should be allowed to fix, or atempt to fix next season.
This season if it happens
Work in progress = 2 cups and european football.
I will take it as a pltform to build from
Great article. Ollie Holt was mentioning games at camp nou but other media people like Souness, Jamie Rednapp and some twat who writes for the Telegraph were saying that chelsea’s win eclipses Istanbul. Have they forgotten that we actually won the bloody thing against the equivalent of today’s Barcelona after being 3-0 down? Today’s media especially the London lot are systematically trying to wipe out our history and ignore our past achievements. ‘Arry has won zilch nada at spurs yet he is bullet proof. There is no conspiracy, London media don’t like LFC. That is a FACT.
Great piece to read, as always, Rob, thank you. Although I don’t like all these comparisons. Whenever there are no valid points to state as a reason to ‘give Kenny more time’, there we begin to remember Alex Ferguson in the early 90-s… and now, Redknapp.
Why not take Alan Pardew as a comparison? He is a new manager. He has a very new squad, you can tell they are a work in progress too… so why not compare Dalglish’s success to Pardew’s, but compare him to Redknapp who indeed is having an easy ride with the press, but why should it be of our concern at all?
The main problem is, in my humble opinion, is that people, although having a great respect for Dalglish, for his personality, for his achevements in the past, his status with the club, with the people of Liverpool, would of course say – give Kenny more time, we are a work in progress, etc., IF they saw that there are signs of improvement of the way the team plays, or the way Dalglish notes his errors and fixes them and moves on.
But… I don’t see him fixing the obvious errors, and I am not a football specialist, I am just a fan. What I see is a baffling decision after baffling decision. No game plan. No defined structure or purpose… Strange line-ups, late substitutions…. Players, although trying hard, seem to be indecisive, lost, mispositioned… That slow build-up with sideways passing seems to be designed for the opposition to gather some 8-9 players in the box, so no wonder we can’t score.
I don’t even want to mention the transfers made. I don’t think that is a main problem…. I also don’t think that a couple of great signings in the Summer are going to fix things, because the problem is not the players, but HOW they are being played.
What scares most is the defeatist feeling among the fans… people actually almost do not expect us to win simple (on paper) games. Also, the SILENT KOP. We are losing it… we are dropping backwards. We are trying to keep positive and support Kenny and the team here in the blogs. But the weekends have become a nightmare. The Kop doesn’t sing. The attendance has dropped….
We have lowered our standards. We do not aim for the sky any more. 7th as opposed to 8th or 10th actually sounds a good deal.
One thing we forget: This is Liverpool FC. This is not good enough for Liverpool FC. And the time that we may spend working on the ‘progress’ may be irrevocable in a bigger perspective… Let’s not forget that the huge international fan base is what pays the bills. But before we know it, the hearts of those who were too young to remember Istanbul, and can only see the curent Liverpool as a miserable midtable team, will be given to Chelsea, or ManCity. Or Newcastle.
Although I have faith in Dalglish, I do have sympathy with the comments from Karen. Whilst the thoughtful supporter does not instantly equate poor results with the need to sack the manager, we all need some indications that we are heading in the right direction. We can suffer poor performances if seen in the context of a vision and a forward-looking plan. As Karen points out, we are producing the same performance repeatedly.
Funnily enough, the lack of an announced grand vision or strategy is somehow part of the Liverpool way – “we do our business behind closed doors” / “we do our talking on the pitch”. Our owners are quiet (perhaps suspiciously so), and we will never get a grand vision from Kenny’s press conferences, as he treats them as unneccessary intrusions into the running of the club. This is not a criticism actually, and if I have a concern it is that the continual references to bad luck and poor refereeing result in a victim culture rather than a seige mentality. He is of course trying to shield the players from pressure, but sometimes the defence of the players borders on the absurd and only invites pressure from the media on players.
So we are left to draw encouragement from what we see on the pitch, and from our faith in a revered servant of the club. My faith in Dalglish is rooted in his creation of the 87/88 team, and in the feeling I got when he returned last year. I recall in particular the 3-0 away win against Wolves, when that bedraggled and dispirited group suddenly started passing and moving. The fire was crackling again, and the preceding 20 years were swept aside. Some passages of play were reminiscent of 87/88. There was enterprise and intelligent movement – players who had been sleep walking through the Hodgson spell suddenly woke up and sprang into life. We saw it again in several games (most notably against Man U and Fulham). It wasn’t perfect, the performances were patchy, and no doubt this was a honeymoon period.
This honeymoon ended with the Fulham game, and in 2011/12 the reality set in with the hard work of reconstructing the squad without CL status. The Newcastle comparison does not flatter us, but their rapid progression comes from an exceptional combination of good luck and good judgement.
Above all else, my faith is kept alive by what he created in 87/88 and by the early signs of that style and approach emerging last year. We have stuttered through this campaign, and at times have looked confused and indisciplined, but with a lot more guile and control in centre midfield and a little more daring from the wide areas, I am convinced that 2012/13 will see major progress.
A well written, passionate defense of Kenny Dalglish. Rob Gutmann speaks elegantly and reguarly on
Great piece, very well written. I personally believe, like you, that Kenny only needs more time. While the players that he picked up over the summer haven’t really done too much as far as stellar work goes, i personally think that if they are given some time as well (this summer maybe they’ll get more time on the training pitch) they can become a well oiled goal scoring machine. If Suarez was just put into a wide position he would be well suited to play in Carroll with ease. If we ran a 3-4-3 with Suarez wide right, Bellamy wide left, and Carroll in the middle the amount of balls that were played into Carroll would make it so that some were bound to go in, even with his poor run of form. Kenny has proved in cup games that we have that big game pedigree that is needed to succeed, and maybe just maybe we only need to do some better scouting on the teams outside the top 6 to get some better results against those teams. If Kenny is given even one more season in charge I trust him to get us into the Champions league in 2013/2014.
I don’t know maybe it is an age thing, I’ve supported liverpool since before dalglishs first reign. I remember the joy of 86, the disappointment of the final in 88, and that friday night in 89. The sadness of Hillsborough and how much Kenny did to hold the club together, the toll it took on him and how he looked in the end at the replay in goodison (read the story years later about Jock Steins heart attack and how he looked gray before he collapsed, well that night Kenny looked like that).
The man deserves our unreserved support he has done as much for this club as Shanks if not more (depends on your opinion). Thats why i can’t call for a change
Then I think of Rafa and i think of all he did for the club, I’m not talking about ’05 or the 4-1 at the old toilet. I’m talking about fighting for the club against the cowboys. Understanding the spirit of the club and the holy trinity of the manager the players and the fans. The standing up to rednose.
There seems to be a growing sense that Kenny is going to be relieved of duty at the end of the season. If and i say if that happens then why not give him the director of football job, Cryuff has been mentioned but what would he bring to the job an elder statesman of the game to advise on players and be a spiritual leader for the club, sounds like Kenny’s job all day long. Then for me the only manager who we should even look at should be Rafa. Oh to have both at the club.
Sorry about the ramble but I think it accurately represents the turmoil i feel about Kenny and Rafa
Fantastic article Rob (and Troutbeck Red, your response was almost an article in itself – a very well written one).
It is always going to be easy to bag Kenny after the run we’re on. It’s at times like these where the true supporters see beyond the immediate timeframe and the messages that are in the press and look at what is really happening.
There are lots of things that have frustrated me with Kenny’s decisions this season (sub timings, selections etc), just as I probably have done with every manager when we don’t win, however I feel good that Kenny is our manager. He bleeds LFC, he respects LFC and he truly understands LFC.
In terms of performance, we have rarely been outplayed. We basically should have taken much more from our games than we have and wouldn’t even be questioning his tenure.
It goes without saying that our chance conversion (9%) has been shocking; some self inflicted and in some we came across keepers playing the game of their lives (how many times has the opposition keeper picked up MoM!!). If our chance conversion was only the league average (13.5% – around the same as Bolton, Stoke, Spurs and Chelsea) we’d have another 20 goals which would make our league season a lot more respectable (at this point let’s remember we have won one cup and are in the final of another so the season is far from a write off)
Now you can argue forever against the if’s, but’s and maybe’s, and undoubtedly we need to work on improving our conversion rate (tactics, composure, players, #players in box to get on the end of crosses etc) so we’re not having the same debate next year however I believe that Kenny has earned the credit points with LFC for this season’s league performance to be regard as an outlier, an anomaly, and let him fix it over summer.
Thank you for renewing the faith. Even in the ‘Glory years’ there were bad spells under all the ‘legendary’ managers. I would love to see Rafa back one day – but Kenny is a legend and deserves time and respect. And 2 cup finals ain’t bad.
Jake Styles post is typical of the “success now crowd”, first full year in charge for Kenny and two cup finals, so what if the league position is crap? Ever heard of the bigger picture?? Jordan Henderson like Carrol was lauded by the media, both capped but the admiration stopped when they signed for us, Hendo is England U21 captain who has been largely played out of position, he obviously is a young kid whose price tag has put the hounds on his tail, Carroll tore us apart at St James’s in the November before his move to us, so did Downing in the final game of last season, Adam too was insrtumental in Blackpool’s double over us, these are good players, give them all time for fuck sake, Kenny for all the criticism has never once been able to play his full strength side least of all on a regular basis, Gerrard, Carroll, Suarez, Lucas and Agger have all been out during his tenure for some reason or other, we play good flowing football, the end product has been lacking but we need a tweak and bit of luck and our best side out before people really judge us. Surely it takes time to build something great and if not i suggest people show Kenny some fucking respect, after all, numerous Hillsborough funerals demand it.