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Can Kenny Dalglish Restore Liverpool to Their Former Glory?

Photo by wekkuzipp. Dalglish (pictured center).

Kenny Dalglish is known as King Kenny, and for good reason. Throughout his seventeen-year career, he played for only two clubs, and he had 559 appearances, with 230 goals scored between them. As a manager at Liverpool from 1985-1991, his teams won the FA cup twice and the league championship thrice. He and many of his senior players attended funerals of spectators who had been crushed during the Hillsborough tragedy, which changed the way he was viewed by both the media and Liverpool supporters. He brought Blackburn from Second Division to Premier League status. Rovers fans had been questioning whether the team even *wanted* to be promoted; Dalglish showed the fans that the team wanted it, and they could do it. Under Dalglish, Blackburn were part of the founding members of the then-new Premier League. ‘King Kenny’ is indeed a legend. But can he fix the broken Liverpool?

Roy Hodgson had control of the Reds for just seven months.  Out of the twenty matches during that period, more than half were losses.  I could compare them to West Ham…but that would be cruel and unnecessary. (Sorry, Hammers, but you know it’s true.)  In any other career, if you failed more than half the time, you would be sacked, too.  However, it has been mentioned that Hodgson was not the instigator of Liverpool’s downfall; that Rafa Benitez began the downward spiral and it only continued under Hodgson, that Benitez just knew when to jump off a sinking ship.

In Benitez’s first year at Anfield, taking over from Gérard Houllier, Liverpool won the Champions League; came in third in the FA Cup; were the runners-up in the League Cup, losing to Chelsea; and came in fifth in the Premier League.  In his final year at Anfield (2009-2010), Liverpool only reached the group stages in the Champions League; lost to Reading in the third round of the FA Cup; lost to Arsenal in the fifth round of the League Cup; and came in a disappointing seventh place in the Premier League.  In a bit of a consolation, Liverpool made it to the semi-final of the Europa League, only to lose to Atletico Madrid, who went on to win the league.  Perhaps Hodgson isn’t to blame for the current state of Liverpool’s affairs, though supporters shouted for his sacking more than that of Benitez’s.

How is King Kenny to fix this?  Liverpool failed in their first two matches under his direction.  Granted, the first was immediately after he took control. He could hardly be expected to have altered the team’s training. However, that loss put Liverpool out of the FA Cup, a crushing blow for both the players and Dalglish.  Liverpool also lost to Ian Holloway’s Blackpool, who had, just the previous week, held a lower position than the Reds in the League table.  How can he change a team that has fallen so far from glory?

Then things started looking up. Liverpool beat Mick McCarthy’s Wolves 3-1 on 22 January. There was a new energy to the team, their style of play had changed dramatically in just two matches, and in addition to the decisive victory the Reds had 31 unanswered passes. Thirty-one, a number which had never happened during Hodgson’s or Benitez’s reign!  Their next match, against Fulham, had the same exciting feel to it.  Fulham, who were only three points behind Liverpool, but who had an equal away win record to Liverpool’s home win record, easily could have recorded a draw had it not been for Pantsil’s own goal.  However, Liverpool were completing more passes, playing more defensively, and moving as a unit, rather than playing as just a collection of individuals.

The most recent match against Stoke City showed a completely revitalised Liverpool.  Raul Meireles put Liverpool one point to the good in the 47th minute, and Luis Suarèz, on his debut, scored a spectacular goal to give Liverpool a two point lead in the 79th minute.  Stoke had no chance.  It seems like Dalglish is turning what was a nearly-bankrupt, failing operation back to what it once was: England’s most successful club; the club that has won eighteen league titles, seven FA Cups, seven League Cups, five European Cups, and three UEFA Cups.  The club that recently avoided administration…just barely.

Now Dalglish has bought both Andy Carroll and Luis Suarèz. The Reds have won three matches in a row, something they did not do during Hodgson’s tenure, and rarely during Benitez’s. The style of playing has drastically changed, so it seems inevitable that the team reaches the top tier of the Premier League.

To quote ‘The Producers’, perhaps the only thought running through Liverpool supporters’ minds is… ‘He can do it, he can do it, he can make our dreams come true’.  Only time will tell.

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  1. CA_backpacker

    February 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Dalglish has already helped Liverpool play a better brand of footy. For right now, I think the biggest advantage to having him manage is the strong fan support he has at Anfield, and that will buy some time for him to make the changes he wants and remove the Stench d’ Rafa. But although losing Torres hurts, Carroll could be good (we’ll see, he’s a young one full of potential) and The Beaver Suarez looks like a great pick up for the price. One more solid defenseman (maybe 2 given Carragher’s age and declining pace) and we might be climbing back where we belong in the race for supremacy…

  2. Sickof Espn

    February 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    in my opinion, no, not even in 10 years

  3. Vious

    February 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Liverpool fans hoping for the return to glory are kidding themselves

    Stevie is older, Torres is gone, and the talent level is significantly lower than United, Chelsea, and Arsenal

    Can they win a single match against them? Sure as they showed against Chelsea but their complete and utter lack of consistency shines through time again

    • Maybee

      February 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Can they win a single match against them?

      Let’s see….

      They beat Chelsea 2-nil in November.

      They opened the season against Arsenal at Anfield with a 1-1 draw (and they were winning until Reina’s unfortunate own goal at the very end – even down to 10 men, because Cole was sent off).

      In September they lost to Man United 3-2 at Old Trafford. First, there is no shame in losing at Old Trafford. Second, they did come back from being 2-nil down to tie, before Berba completed his hat-trick for the win.

      In January they lost 1-nil to Man United in the FA Cup, but again, at Old Trafford, down to 10 men, and with Webb awarding and SOFT penalty, and with a new manager installed only two days before.

      So, can they beat them? Sure….if they can keep all 11 on the pitch, avoid own goals, and if the supporters can inspire them and put the fire in their belly (so to speak).

      A win is absolutely possible.

  4. Duck

    February 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Once again more digs at Rafa. You failed to mention the season before last where he finished 2nd with one of Liverpool’s biggest point hauls.

    The downward spiral was started by Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Why can’t reporters see this?

  5. el mano del diablo

    February 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Kenny’s done a fantastic job so far, but let’s give some credit to Steve Clarke. The back 4 is becoming a more solid unit because of him. 3 clean sheets in a row even with Glen Johnson somewhat out of place (he looks pretty great out of place though).

    At the moment, Kenny can do no wrong, but he will have to face a lot more pressure in a title hunt and must prove that he can handle it. Still, I only wish they gave him the job at the beginning of the season instead of seeing the ideologies of LFC collapse over 7 months time with Hodgson.

  6. Dave C

    February 4, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Raul Meireles put Liverpool one point to the good in the 47th minute

    Don’t mean to be a nitpicker, but no-one ever uses the word “point” to mean a goal. It would be confusing, since “points” always refer to the league points you earn for winning/drawing matches.

    • Guy

      February 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

      “In any other career, if you failed more than half the time, you would be sacked, too.”

      More nitpicking…. 😉 In baseball, getting just one hit every three times at bat can make you an All-star.

  7. Matt

    February 4, 2011 at 9:01 am

    “The club that recently avoided administration…just barely.”

    Not sure they’re any better off now.

    • Sean

      February 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      How are they not?

      They no longer have that mountain of debt and unsustainable interest payments. Moreover, their transfer activity saw them spend a grand total of £1.8 million pounds when you factor in their sales.

      One last thing, with respect to the Carroll fee. John Henry gave an interview that was published today that stated all Liverpool wanted was to be able to buy Andy Carroll plus £15 million so the fee they requested from Chelsea for Torres was dependent on the amount Newcastle wanted for Carroll who was going to be a summer transfer target anyway.

      For anyone who is interested the interview is right here:

    • Liam

      February 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      You’d probably be the only one. Even the most blinkered Manc can see LFC is in a better position now.

  8. Liverpool fan

    February 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Personally I believe in Kenny. He can bring Liverpool back to Top 4.

  9. Thomas

    February 4, 2011 at 4:43 am

    They looked quite against Stoke.

    But the fact that you are quoting league positions against the likes of Blackpool and Fulham shows how far Liverpool have fallen as of late.

    Sorry LFC, but Man Utd will hold 19 league titles come May. You’re still a ways off.

  10. Ryan

    February 4, 2011 at 3:17 am

    They beat the Wolves 3 to nil in January. Three clean sheets in a row

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