By Karl Coppack
It’s been over a week and I still haven’t come to terms with it. I’m still furious, disappointed and, as melodramatic as it seems, feel betrayed. Elsewhere the Red world happily discusses Martinez, Villas Boas, Capello, Redknapp, Twiggy etc. but for me it still seems too soon and disrespectful.
Two things stand out. Firstly, Liverpool Football Club sacked Kenny Dalglish, actually sacked him. Not a joint decision, an actual sacking. Alongside that rests the knowledge that some supporters of Liverpool Football Club booed Kenny Dalglish, albeit indirectly via the team.
Booed and sacked.
I’m not ready to join in with talk of John Henry’s New Waves of Light just yet. I’m trying to work out what the hell’s happened to everything I believe in. I’m not quite ready to trust Boston nor am I ready to forgive people who can boo Liverpool off the pitch so you’ll forgive me if I don’t join in with excited talk about whoever it is this morning.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the arguments for releasing Kenny and a lot of them are valid. Terrible form in the League, some bloody awful signings and no real sense of a plan etc. Yes, there was silverware and a linesman’s sneeze away from taking the F.A. Cup final to extra time but the club want fourth place and if Kenny can’t get close to that then the inevitable will occur.
I just didn’t think it would be yet. Still, market forces rule and failure is not an option. You see the term ‘no man is bigger than the club’ being bandied about. The catch-all defence of sacking our greatest player and third most successful manager. A legend, yes, the greatest, absolutely, but one season without Champions League football is quite enough thank you. The door’s over there.
Oh, and if you’re going to dismiss Kenny Dalglish, FSG, could you at least put both his names on your official statement rather than just his sneerily referring to him by his surname. At least give the man that.
I’ve heard this too. ‘Oh, but if it wasn’t Kenny Dalglish, if it were Roy Hodgson you’d be baying for his blood, wouldn’t you? It’s only because it’s Dalglish that he lasted this long’.
I didn’t like Roy Hodgson even before he took over from Rafa but had he taken the club to two finals in his debut season I would have raised an eyebrow at a dismissal. Yes, Kenny’s special to the club and our attachment is sentimental but for fuck sakes the whole game is sentimental.
That’s the fucking point of the football. The glory of the game lies in its theatre and its charged drama. On the day I’m writing this I’m getting texts and emails wishing me a ‘Happy 25th May’ because it’s a date that make the heart of every Red swell, not merely the recording of two games in our history.
Glory is the child of sentiment so to hear crass arguments about no man being bigger than the club is nonsense. If no man is bigger than the club then at least let’s agree that certain people deserve a chance to put it right and they need more than on complete season. I support LFC and I support Kenny Dalglish as one is the embodiment of the other. Sentimental? Fuck yeah. I pay my debts, that’s all.
Other arguments were as inane as they were insulting, citing his poor relationship with the press and the handling of the Suarez case. Jesus, he’s already had to apologise to Geoff Shreeves after Old Trafford. What more do you want?
Imagine having to debase yourself to that degree and still get pilloried for it. The T-shirts may have seemed ill advised but only if you want to genuinely believe that the first team were openly celebrating racially abusing Patrice Evra rather than supporting their team mate who they believe has been wrongly accused. There was no ‘Isn’t Racism Boss?’ motif that I could see yet the outrage was there. If you’re not happy with Kenny being manager then pick a better reason than ‘it upset Paul McGrath’.
Anyway, he’s gone and we must look to the future. A new broom to wipe away the detritus of last season ignominy. FSG have re-enacted the baptism scene of The Godfather (‘Do you renounce Ian Cotton?’ ‘I do renounce him.’) so if there’s a sense of ‘Day One’ about the club then we’re living it this very minute or at least once an appointment has been made.
This is the time that FSG have to stamp their own personality and beliefs on the club – something they’ve not been successful at thus far. If the answer is a young manager with an elder statesman upstairs then they have to get the right man in and give him time i.e. more than one season. That goes for the fans too.
I have no beef with the new man whoever the poor sod happens to be. Many, myself included, didn’t just see Hodgson in the dugout, they saw ‘Not Rafa’ there and blamed him for that too but I doubt that will happen this time. The Owl was put in an impossible position. An average manager working with underachieving players, a split fan base and despised owners.
The next LFC manager will be afforded every opportunity, right up until we go three home games without a win. I predict that in a moment of supreme irony the Dalglish booers will shout his name.
I still can’t join in though. I’m just not excited about a new direction wherever it may lead as I’m still reeling from last Wednesday. It may be time to put all that to one side and trust FSG but, for the time being at least, it just feels hollow. Feel free to slate this and put it down to overblown romanticism but that’s the way things are at the moment.
Suffice to say that FSG had better have a perfect replacement and strategy in place and, one week out, I’ve seen little evidence of that.
As things stand it looks like Wigan’s former manager will be taking over. I wish him luck albeit with a lazy wave of the hand and a weak smile. I suspect my interest in the early games may be more scientific than heartfelt. That’s likely to change obviously but at the moment it feels empty. I bloody hate this game sometimes.