The news that had been circulating for days was finally confirmed this week. Kenny Dalglish had been sacked by Liverpool football club. On a day in which Principal owner John Henry would describe him as “the heart and soul of the club” it certainly felt like the club had lost a large part of itself.
The announcement comes after a number of high profile names at the club lost their jobs such as Director of Football Damien Comolli, following what the owners clearly consider a disappointing season. If long term stability is what the owners are after, this doesn’t seem to be the best way to go about it.
Kenny has a long line of accolades that he can take pride in, such as ten league titles and three European cups, however he will still see this as a huge measure of failure. Ever since he left the club he longed for a return to what he fondly refers to as his ‘Liverpool Home’. A return that was over 20 years in the making has ended prematurely and Kenny will sadly have to live with this fresh in his memory.
For years Liverpool could pride themselves as a team who give their managers time to try and get things right. Now, The Reds have succumbed to the new culture in which managers are ceremonially tossed out the back door the moment things take a turn for the worse.
Since 2010, the club have now had different three managers, soon to become four. Before Roy Hodgson was relieved from his ill-timed role as Liverpool manager the shortest reign of any permanent manager was two years. Even Graeme Souness managed to warrant 3 years as boss despite being one of the least successful bosses in the club’s history.
League form this season has been poor. The club finished 8th in the league, the lowest they have finished in the Premier League era. This also meant their first finish below city rivals Everton since 2005, despite having beaten them in all three meetings between the clubs this season. FSG have credited such unsatisfactory performances in the league as the main factor for the decision to relieve Kenny of his role at the club.
Whilst this season has been for the most part a disappointment. Form in cup competitions was nothing short of a revelation. The team played 13, won 11 and scored 31 goals. Considering the football club only competed in three competitions this season and managed to win one and get to the final of the other is a real accomplishment. It is something that certainly warrants one more season at the helm, regardless of reputation.
Kenny has been left to deal with more than just matters on the field. The Luis Suarez case helped to seriously dent Dalglish’s reputation. Kenny chose to stand by his player and many saw this as the wrong way to go. However, Kenny had an obvious lack of support from those above him. FSG never made any comments on the case and seemed to ignore the issue altogether. This only helped to show all the serious issues with the hierarchy of the football club.
Many would hope Kenny could still remain in and around the club in some sort of capacity. However the fact that Kenny was indeed relieved of his duties by FSG shows there may be bad blood between the two parties. Many had expected the line to have been that Kenny “chose to leave” but instead it has been given to us as it is. Kenny was sacked.
It is no surprise that Kenny wasn’t willing to lie to the fans he cherishes so much. He has always told it as it is and is not one to hide behind more carefully chosen language in such situations. When Kenny shocked the footballing world and resigned in 1990, he felt he was becoming a burden to the club and was not willing to drag the team he loves down. Kenny will therefore know better than anybody if he was not the right man to take Liverpool forward.
Kenny understands the high standards of the club, having played under the greatest manager in the club’s history. He will take great shame from the poor home league form this year. The team’s actual performances have for the most part not been poor though. Very rarely were performances at home substandard. Results just simply weren’t coming in. The club boasts the statistic for most times hitting the woodwork. What manager do FSG expect to get who can turn that statistic around? Kenny Dalglish set his team out the way any manager would have, and he should not be criticised for that.
Upon leaving the club, Kenny could not help but show his compassion for Liverpool one last time and rejected severance pay of a reported £8 million instructing FSG to spend it on players instead. It was a truly spectacular gesture from a truly spectacular man.
The big issue for any incoming manager now will be that they must replace a club legend. Fans will expect nothing but success after losing the man they hold dearest to their hearts, this job could become untenable if the man selected doesn’t get things right as quickly as possible.
Funnily enough after the fuss made in 2010 about the lack of top job experience Roy Hodgson had, it is Roberto Martinez who is favourite for the job. A manager who may have achieved great success for Wigan by keeping them up, but Liverpool have no need for a manager well-rehearsed in Premier League survival. If you are going to replace a club legend then you best have a top name lined up.
Andre Villas-Boas could be the best man to now take the club forward. John Henry is a strong believer in the ‘Moneyball’ philosophy and AVB would certainly fit in with such policies. The Portuguese tactician has unfinished business in the Premier League and having recently turned down offers from Valencia and AS Roma may be looking for a swift return to English football.
Whilst Liverpool may have only finished 8th, nobody can deny that Liverpool are still a top club who are for the most part on the rise. Any manager would love the chance to take over such a large football club. Liverpool are still a team capable of challenging for the league and it can fully be expected that they will be in the coming years.
Many had feared that Kenny’s return could put his legendary status at the club under question. Nothing has changed in this Liverpool fans eyes. Kenny took the helm at a club in peril. He had wanted to take control before Hodgson was selected and even during the 90s. He managed to put smiles back on fans faces and for that he will forever remain the King.