09 January 2011

Why It's Got To Be Kenny

As far as I and most other realistic Liverpool fans were concerned, today's FA Cup 3rd Round tie was never about repeating the 4-1 thumping we gave United at Old Trafford not too long ago. Neither was it going to be a gloriously triumphant, fairy tale-type return for the King (having just flown in from the Middle East only a few hours earlier). To me, it was more of a salvage operation. And, by salvage operation standards, if not for two dodgy refereeing decisions, it could have been one hell of a salvage operation.

Nevertheless,even though the game was lost and Liverpool were out of another major tournament this season, I found myself smiling. This wasn't the sarcastic-type smile that began to strangely appear every time Liverpool lost games in the past few months. This smile was genuine and it wasn't just me either. A couple of other Liverpool supporters that I know had the same feeling and it showed as well. On top of the smile, a type of joyful glow emanated from Liverpool supporters. A glow you'd get only after a hard fought win or thrashing of a bitter rival, only this time, it came after a defeat.

So, what was there to be so happy about?

It's hard to to put a finger on it but to put it simply, it is Kenny Dalglish's appointment that has made Liverpool supporters the world over so glad. It just felt right in the first place and today's performance (though not the result, of course) appeared to justify the gut feeling the majority of Reds had. That's why we were happy. We had come through the end of the dark, claustrophobic tunnel and although there was no blinding flash of light just yet, the few rays of light that we saw were enough to light the way.

Sections of the support and certain quarters of the media have pointed out a few negatives of Dalglish's appointment but the positives I believe are just too overwhelming.

1. Availability
Yes, there are others out there that, for various reasons, would have been ever so willing to take up the position at Liverpool but no other person knows the club so well and would have problems fitting in anyway. So, that would've ruled out the most available of managers like O'Neill, Rijkaard, Allardyce and Rangnick but what of Benitez? Well, as much as I would have liked Benitez to make a return, I just can't see it happening in the near-future. For reasons (if not glaringly obvious already), see points #2 and #3 below.

2. LMA and Media Appeasement
Any British manager would have been cast out like a pariah by the LMA cartel if he even dared to go for the job vacated by Hodgson's departure. The LMA, having just stated their preference on the matter would have seen it as a sign of disrespect to the body and would obviously not look upon it too kindly.

That leaves Liverpool with the only option of going for foreign managers. Not a good idea seeing that a large majority of the British media have already been sharpening their knives after the club rid itself of the media's darling, its former manager. The stick the media would have given to the foreign manager would make it unfair on him and as much as Liverpool supporters are fond of a me-against-the-world fight, it just wouldn't be a battle that we should be fighting. Not now anyway. Especially since Dalglish is around.

3. Unity: Fans and Player Power
Name me one manager in the world that in a single stroke could unite all the various factions of the fans and the players of Liverpool? Yes, player power has been a growing cancer in Liverpool for the past 18 months but I'd doubt there would be a single player in the club that would be brave stupid enough to go up against Dalglish. Even if the sly and back-stabbing route was taken, the few that would go down this route would find it hard to get any type of support. With Dalglish, there would be no choice but to learn and listen.

4. Tactical Know-How
Yes, having been out of management for so long, tactical knowledge would probably not be one of Dalglish's strengths. But, you don't need to be a tactical genius like Arrigo Sacchi to realise that the team you picked isn't performing and a Plan B is needed. The impact substitutes (Babel , N'Gog and Shelvey) and minor tweaks to the formation that were made against United today were so refreshing that you could have easily confused it for some of new footballing innovation introduced by Dalglish. Oh, and to see the team finally playing some football was nice as well.

5. It's About The Money Too
Fenway Sports Group (FSG) could be guilty of shamelessly choosing the populist option. But, who could blame them? Attendances at matches were at an all-time low and there were even calls to boycott official merchandise which would have been very damaging to the club's finances. By appointing Dalglish, they not only solved both problems, FSG have probably increased merchandise sales as well as judging by the news reports there's a good few people out there walking out of shops with "Dalglish 7" jerseys.

In short, it's not the best possible forward-looking solution but what Dalglish's appointment does is that it buys the club some time to sort itself out so that it can make the best decision when the summer comes along.

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