By Luke McGovern
AS the rumour mill churned away its butter, the gossip spread and thus the realisation was digested.
Confirmation of Kenny Dalglish’s sacking brought to an end two days of intense speculation and scaremongering following his jaunt to Boston to draw a conclusion on what had been a season of perplexity.
Having formally decapitated a Liverpool icon in front of a prying audience, the honeymoon period is now over for Fenway Sports Group, and the onus is on them to deliver the grandeur that they pledged.
It’ll be fascinating to see how FSG cope now that their shield from the storm – Dalglish – has gone. They have hung a club icon out to dry, to soak up the criticism, only to be shunned before he can attempt to fix the glaring holes in his team.
Where, for instance, were FSG when the Suarez situation was spiralling out of control? They left Dalglish to slay the beast of burden, damaging his own iconic status, perhaps, to shelter their own idyllic image, fully knowing that Kenny would be gone at the end of the season.
Now, with no manager, no assistant manager, no director of football, no chief executive and no director of communications there can surely be no direction.
It is all very well attempting to steer the club down a new route, Liverpool have, after all, fell needlessly behind the rest of the Premier League when it comes to commercial viability and match day revenue, but when I walk up Arkles Lane on my way to Anfield, I look ponderously across the Vernon Sangster car park and derive – there is still no physical manifestation of a new identity, No ‘New Anfield’.
When John W Henry took the reins at Anfield, there were romanticised reports drawing parallels to their stewardship of the Boston Red Sox. There they restored a sleeping giant. A fallen club sumptuously reinstated to the pinnacle of the sport with championship triumphs and its old ground, Fenway Park, refurbished.
Last season, the Red Sox failed to make the play-offs, a catastrophic failure in the eyes of their fans who then became disillusioned by their coach. FSG took immediate action, concluding that, similar to not reaching the Champions League for Liverpool, the season was a flop. The coach, Terry Francona, was sacked and the general manager, Theo Epstein, resigned. Sounding familiar?
Now, the Red Sox are bottom of their division, the fans unhappy, the press disparaging, and the current manager is teetering on the brink yet again.
We retain our patience for FSG because they drove Hicks and Gillett out of town and paid of the club’s debt. For that we are eternally grateful. But for how long can you let appreciation cloud your judgment before you become disheartened? For the case of FSG with Dalglish, it was less than 18 months.
Of course we all want FSG to make the right appointment. The timing and the manner of Kenny’s departure has left a bitter taste in the mouth for some. But we all want the club back on the right road.
This summer will be the most important one in the club’s recent history. My worry is, if the results don’t begin to go our way early on, how long will it be before the boo boys start to clamber for their pitchforks and start knocking down the doors of the new gaffer’s office?
And I guarantee you, as soon as the new regime sets sail, the first sign of the ship getting rocked in a storm, you will get the same people who championed for the departure of Benitez, Hodgson (rightly so in that case) & Dalglish calling for the new manager as well. That will be a real test for FSG who have set out their stall now.
Having spilt blood all over the boardroom floor, they now find themselves presented with a completely fresh slate – they must now use it to impose their ideas on the club that they promised when they took over.
Every decision they make will be carefully dissected by every section of support, particularly by advocates of Kenny like myself. And if they don’t get it spot on, there will be a lot of finger pointing.
With expensive signings made, a club icon lynched, much blood spilt and nothing but an etch of a new stadium, the American owners’ next moves have to be very much more sure-footed.