What To Do When Dealt a King?

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By Darren Rudham

In a scant two months, Kenny Dalglish has added alchemy to his already impressive list of accomplishments at Anfield. In a little over nine weeks he’s turned 11 leaden lumps into an auric automaton. And his magic has spilled over into the boardroom, entrancing his new employers, too.

John Henry’s whisperings of involving Dalglish in his long-term plan would seem to be closer to echoing through the halls of Anfield with talks of a two-year contract being publicized. But the King knows better than most about the validity of lip service. Public announcements of support mean very little and new contracts are printed on 2 ply rolls. Three if you are Fernando Torres.

Perhaps the less lustrous part of Kenny’s history is why the brass has been so cagey about putting pen to paper and then only offering a two year deal as opposed to the four-year stint he was after. After setting the gold standard, his unceremonious abdication as regent left the Reds in the hands of one unworthy successor after another. Worse yet, the health reasons he cited for his departure cleared up after 8 months and he rehung his shingle less than an hour way.
Sentiment, no matter how strong it pours out of the Kop, will not sway the brass at Fenway Sports Group. They have already proven that their measures are swift and decisive. After acquiring the Boston Red Sox, they let two managers go within a two year period. First to go was Joe Kerrigan within months of them taking over. Grady Little was next, shown the door after a managerial decision that arguably cost the Sox a divisional title in 2003.

Fast forward seven years. After FSG takes over at Anfield, under-performing Roy Hodgson leaves under “mutual consent.” Their “man for the job” takes over. But if history, and FSG’s impatience for lack of results follows, Kenny Dalglish might not see the end of 2011-12 season if some form of silverware fails to make its way into the cabinet, no matter how close he comes or how long the ink on his contract says he has to try.

As great as Dalglish has been in the short term, FSG have managerial options. Marty O’Neill is still on the dole. Rafa is
playing chess in the Liverpool environs, and with Mourinho more than likely to reinvent himself away from the continent after what is amounting to an unsuccessful season on the Iberian peninsula, successors are now available in veritable spades.

But Henry and Werner have a knack for picking out quality. Or spotting what’s right in front of them when everyone else can’t. Terry Francona, NESV’s replacement for Little, won a World Series for the Red Sox the year after his appointment. And now they have quite literally fallen into a manager that comes readymade with an enviable managerial resume. Three leagues. Two FA Cups and four Charity shields. And that is just as a Liverpool FC manager.

Dalglish has also taken teams from relative obscurity to the pinnacle of the English game. It took open coffers and record signings (sounding familiar?), but he did it, and in a relatively short time period. But money and talent aside, the delicate chemistry that is a modern Premiership team often takes time to perfect. The fact that his experiments, unlike his predecessor’s, haven’t blown up in his face yet after two months would suggest that he deserves more than half a season to perfect his elixir.

It is unlikely that Dalglish will hoist anchor again. Age and experience are a sobering influence on the headiness of youth. His travels outside the gates of Anfield coupled with what has happened inside of them in his absence point to Anfield as being the cul-de-sac on his managerial path. And with Sir Alex looking like he is going to make good on his promise of unperching LFC, odds are Kenny – given the chance – will not abide until the Reds are back on top.

For Liverpool FC fans and the new management alike, the specters of Managers Past are fresh enough to cause some concern. As good as he was – and has been again – forgiveness from the Anfield faithful is a one shot deal. But for now, the King is back. All hail the King.

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  1. Firstly well reasoned article Darren. However the transformation is perhaps down to the team has finally got back to playing at something near what it is capable of. I would argue that although we have lost vital cogs from the 08/09 team and that Citeh and Spurs spending has taken them above us but 6th was the worst we should have accepted this season.Last year was a disaster, Rafa made mistakes but everyone does, injuries to key players, take Xavi and Messi out of Barca for 3 months and they’d be less effective. Then there was the H&G mess, when the FA demand assuarances that you can complete the next season things are bad. Of course it was H&G and Purslow that gave us the worst mangerial appointment in our great history, suffice to say the WBA manager claims he was unlucky and is in effect saying I would have taken the team were Kenny has. Of course dear reader we know this is nonsense, Kenny likes to attack the WBA manager doesn’t! What does the future hold? Most of the names you mentioned MON, and Rafa are quite frankly laughable Darren, I live in Derry MON is like a saint here (he went to boarding school in Derry) and everyone misses the bleedy obvious at 59 he’s only a year younger than Kenny and has won nothing of note in English football. His style of play is predictable and to be honest un-Liverpool like as Alan Green said during one commentary last season “I bet Martin will put on a big man up front in place of a big man up front”. While I like Rafa I don’t think his coming back right now would work. There is a section of Liverpool fans who are openly hostile to Rafa and right from the start we’d have the manc loving press against us. Kenny demands respect because he’s been there and done that and he has the support of the vast majority (I’d hazard 99.999%) of fans. The elephant in the room of course is the Liverpool supporting, charasmatic successful manager that is Jose Mourinho. I think he’s a vulgar egomaniac who thinks he’s more important than anyone hence his jumping from club to club but his reputation makes him attractive and if, and that’s a huge if, he has let us know he’s interested he could very well be the man NESV/FSG turn to. Anyone else in place of Kenny would be unacceptable to the fans, I fear that many would be taken in by his record so I hope he isn’t interested because I have a feeling if Kenny stays things will get a lot better.

  2. good piece. aside from the fact the 2 yr 4 yr thing has been proved to be speculation, at the end of the day i am sure both the owners and kenny are on the same page and the right decision will be made for the club moving forward. i do not think in any circumstance our owners will be interested in cutting corners in their pursuit of leading liverpool back to the top of european and world football.

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