THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

Comments (9)
Comment by PRB 2012-05-17 12:27:52

It's true, he deserved a shot a the job when he was first hired and he more than restored some faith between the fans and the club again. It's also true that there was mistakes this year and performances were at times very disappointing. But, what isn't true for me that he deserved to be cut loose after one full season. Like anyone, Kenny deserved a shot to put things right, to try improve next year and to learn from some of his own mistakes of which there was always going to be some having been out of the game so long. Would it have hurt to give him another year to see if he could indeed begin to turn it around? He isn't getting that chance and we must move on, I just think it's a shame he was pushed out. But make no mistake about it, the next appointment is going to be huge here for ownership as well as the man hired. He'll doubtfully be afforded the same patience from the fans as Kenny was if only because this is ownership saying Kenny wasn't good enough so we're going to make it better. Right or wrong, that's going to make it a big job for someone.

Comment by Barnstoneworth 2012-05-17 13:42:21

Probably KD's biggest crime was finishing behind Everton. Frankly Liverpool were stuffed when David Moores took a fistful of dollars from Hicks and Gillett. The fact that they are now gone does not mean that all Liverpool's problems are in the past - John Henry may have more wealth but what he does with it is what matters and the early signs aren't encouraging. Meanwhile the Toffees, by design or otherwise, are still owned by a local enthusiast. They have kept the same manager for a decade. They are what they are and don't imagine that they are anything else. By contrast Liverpool, ever since their last title win in 1990, have tried every quick fix in the book aiming to repeat it and bring back the days when they dominated Europe. If they are to regain their former status, they have to prepare for the road to be long and arduous.

Comment by Dubstar Belgrade 2012-05-17 17:03:04

The Suarez saga has little relevance, apologies were made - time moved on. If his actions and handling roused thoughts of dismissal it should have happened then not now.

In terms of the football it's only baring was limiting the player to only 23 starts in a term when both Gerrard and the Lucas were unavailable for large periods. You can effectively turn Liverpool's season not on the words of a Uraguanian in an Anfield goalmouth last October, but on the snapping of a Brazilian's cruciate ligament six weeks later, on a night when he bossed the Chelsea midfield on their own park.

You do not reach two cup finals, beat Arsenal and Chelsea away, and both sides of Manchester simply by chance. The side proved it could compete. It's flaws were lack of consistency and finishing. The first comes with youth and inexperience (Carroll already shows signs of being richer for the storm weathered this season). As to how the latter would have been addressed we will never know.

I've a feeling success will at some point still find it's way to L4, the club's global commercial value enough to avoid all but cowboys slipping it through the Premier League's safety nets.

Comment by JimDavis 2012-05-17 17:44:10

As a West Brom fan I am already very worried about next season.
Mad Mick - 6 points
Steve Kean - 6 points
Owen Coyle - 4 points
Big Eck - 4 points
King Kenny - 3 points
AVB - 3 points
Thats 26 points from only 12 games!
That is more than half our points gone and we are historically rubbish against the teams coming up, no matter which league or who they are - only 7 points from the 6 league games plus a FA cup defeat this season. With Reading and Southampton coming up, we'll be lucky to get even 7 points from the 3 newbies next season.
Where will our points come from next year?

As for Liverpool - well maybe their fans should check out what happened to Wolves post the 1950s and plot where they think their club is on that timeline into the abysses. Funny though, when you mention it to Liverpool supporters they have no comprehension as to just how massive Wolves were back then.

Comment by geobra 2012-05-17 18:46:34

What I find interesting is that some clubs remain big, or even 'massive' no matter how many years have passed since the victories that gave them this label. In terms of winning the championship, for Arsenal it was 18 years from 1953 to 1971, for Liverpool it's 22, which is an age in football, for Manchester United it was 26 (1967-1993), but the daddy of them all is surely Spurs. Despite having won just two titles, the last of them way back in 1961, they are still seen as one of England's biggest clubs. I exclude Chelsea and Manchester City because they are late arrivals to the 'massive club' table.

Comment by Dubstar Belgrade 2012-05-17 19:05:15

As it happens my Dad is a Wolves fan, a glory hunting youth who turned his back on his local sides (Romford & West Ham) to follow Cullis' Cubs.

Never perhaps has a fall from grace been quite so literally illustrated as...



I'll never forget the day he took me to Molineux. Early 90s, Wolves are rising from the dead swifter than Lazarus, one tier away from top flight status. "You'll see a real team play football, today" he said, I guess I did.



We never went again.

Comment by Jongudmund 2012-05-18 12:41:43

There does seem to be a pattern developing - win the league cup but have a poor league finish and get sacked at the end of the season. 2 years in a row. No wonder so many other managers put out second string teams.

Comment by Coral 2012-05-18 15:05:08

Interesting isn't it? League cup is ridiculed as a waste and should be killed off. Yet every Liverpool fan revelled in a famous win and used it as a reason to keep a massively under performing, £100m spending manager. And most of the media use it as a stick to beat Arsenal with because they haven't won it and have a 7 year trophy drought. Although best keep quiet about always making it into Europe.

Comment by ale 2012-05-18 20:49:36

geobra.. imagining going 85 years without a title...eveybody is a late arrival to the 'massive club' table..

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