When Kenny Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson to become temporary manager in January he was welcomed with widespread approval from the majority of supporters, who were delighted to see the much maligned Hodgson replaced with club legend and fans’ favourite King Kenny.
However, a few doubts about the Scot’s appointment persisted, with the main worries centring on his understanding of the modern game following over a decade out of top-level management. With the Reds’ confidence-stricken squad enduring a torrid season some doubted his ability to transform our weak and worryingly under-performing side.
Now, only 81 days after his appointment, those fears have been compounded and the initial enthusiasm that surrounded his arrival has proved to be well placed, with many, including myself, hoping that the 60-year old is offered a long-term contract by new American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) immediately.
Infusing the current squad with belief and confidence while also acquiring some top quality new signings in the form of Suarez and Carroll have been the King’s main achievements, with the resulting resurgence transforming our performances and earning crucial Premier League points, taking us away from the jaws of a relegation dog fight and accelerating us towards the dizzying heights of the top six.
Whereas his predecessor Roy Hodgson would regularly cite the players’ weaknesses and claim that replacements were necessary, thus undermining the squad’s confidence even further, Dalglish has backed his squad to the hilt throughout while also acknowledging the need to gradually re-build with wise investment during the transfer window.
This rebuilding process began in January, when Dalglish oversaw the capture of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, two exciting young prospects who have instantly bolstered our attacking options. Alongside Damien Comolli and other senior officials Dalglish successfully replaced Torres and Babel with Carroll and Suarez, in deals which will benefit Liverpool in both the short and long term.
Perhaps more significantly Dalglish demonstrated that he can work efficiently and effectively with a Director of Football. Although many predicted that the King would not welcome Comolli’s role due to his traditional British view of a dominant manager controlling everything football related, the reverse has proven to be the case, as Comolli has complimented Dalglish well, playing a crucial role in the recruitment of players while allowing Kenny to control training and player selection.
Doubts about his understanding of the modern game have also proven to be unfounded as the modern and progressive 4-2-3-1 formation employed has produced attacking and enterprising football, while also ensuring defensive stability at the back, with clean sheets in almost half (8 out of 15) of our matches under Dalglish’s stewardship providing the platform to collect points and victories.
The initially sceptical media have warmed to Dalglish and his entertaining style of play as a result, which, although the opinions of London based media men are widely ignored by sensible Liverpool fans, is encouraging, despite the painful irony of them criticising Benitez for introducing the same successful 4-2-3-1 formation that Dalglish now receives praise for utilising.
Liverpool’s promising youngsters have also received a considerable boost following the appointment of Dalglish, who fully appreciates the clear potential possessed by many in the Reds’ youth set up after working in the Academy for two years. His willingness to blood young talent into the first team has been displayed by the likes of Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing, who have both featured and impressed
regularly under Dalglish.
On top of that several other youngsters, such as Jack Robinson, John Flanagan and Conor Coady, have enjoyed trips to Europe with the first team, allowing them to taste first team football and clearly
establishing a route through from the youth sides to the first team. Such refreshing trust in youth compares favourably with former incumbent Roy Hodgson, who mainly marginalized the Academy, preferring to stick with older, more experienced yet less talented players rather than select gifted
Crucially, Dalglish excellently exudes legitimate authority over his squad by his sheer presence and stature within the club, with the resulting respect for the manager and his style of play coupled fittingly with the renewed atmosphere of enjoyment encompassing Melwood.
This support for the temporary boss has been evidenced by many senior stars stating their desire to
see him stay at the club beyond the length of his current six-month contract, as well as commenting on the much-improved training sessions under Dalglish and his popular, highly esteemed assistant Steve Clarke.
With the fans and the players now fully backing Dalglish it seems almost inevitable that he will be
offered a new, long-term contract in the not so distant future. His impact at the club has been so significant that FSG have changed their plan to get a younger manager and instead appear likely to appoint the King on a permanent basis in the summer.
However, the instant and considerable boost Dalglish’s permanent appointment would provide should be utilised immediately, as this could provide the added impetus needed to compete and claim the top five finish necessary to qualify for next season’s Europa League.
The King of the Kop must return permanently to his Anfield home.
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