17 May ~ It is hard not to note the cosmic irony of Kenny Dalglish being sacked on the same day that Roy Hodgson drew almost universal derision for including Stewart Downing in England's Euro 2012 squad. If the fates of Liverpool's two most recent managers already seemed inextricably linked – it being apparently impossible to talk about one without reference to the other – then this confirmed it. Like his predecessor, Dalglish is now an ex-Liverpool manager (although unlike him, for the second time). In purely footballing terms, this was hardly a surprise, following a league season of near-unprecedented poorness, which a Carling Cup victory could do little to positively balance out.
It has been a fairly common observation of late that any other manager who had overseen such a season might have been relieved of his post far sooner – in the manner of, say, a certain England boss. The "King", however, was not any other manager.
Those fans who feel the strongest affection for Dalglish will argue, not unreasonably, that being sacked by owners hundreds of miles away is no way for the closest that real life has ever had to Roy of the Rovers to be treated; and yet it is hard to see many compelling reasons, beyond that affection, for him to have continued in the job.
The goodwill he accumulated through a magnificent playing and managerial career, his remarkable community work following Hillsborough and the manner with which he bounded back into the club with a smile last January helped him to ride out the storm of the Luis Suárez affair. But that moment was perhaps the first indication that he wasn't the right man for the job in the longer term.
In no way can his original appointment be described as a mistake. He undoubtedly restored joy to the club after the unbearably dour Hodgson era and the marked improvement in the team's playing style and form was no accident, dispelling the myth that he might have lost touch with the game entirely in his years away.
It is also difficult to criticise the decision to offer him a longer-term contract following this rescue job. If nothing else, at the first hint of failure any subsequent manager would have felt Dalglish's presence over them even more acutely than Hodgson. At the very least, Dalglish had earned the opportunity to make a go of it.
Yet that impassioned show of support for Suárez, aside from being a gross error of judgement, was indicative of a growing malaise – namely that, once the initial patch-up job was done, Dalglish seemed not to be working from any coherent plan.
Last summer he essentially threw all his chips on the notion that promising but unpolished British players from further down the division would herald a new and exciting era. These overpriced and desperately underperforming signings let him down, but so did his own inability to instil in his teams a distinct identity or ethos.
We can presume that his final misjudgement was to refuse to walk away from the club – thus forcing the owners into pushing him out instead – but as he departs the regret is less at his appointment and more at the fact that he wasn't as right for the job as everyone had so dearly wanted him to be.
While a bold move, Fenway's decision to let a genuine legend go in this manner can only be seen as positive if they are equally bold and decisive in replacing him. Such is the regard in which the now-twice former manager is held that the sort of lacklustre and directionless era into which Liverpool are in danger of falling even deeper would be far more tolerable with him at the helm than without – as Roy Hodgson can surely attest. Seb Patrick