Dalglish knows how to steer the ship

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There is bound to be an equation, although I wouldn’t dare to pretend I knew what it was, that relates the size of an object against the distance to stop relative to its speed in forward motion. To that degree, it’s common sense that a sea-tanker, or any large vessel for that matter, cannot just be stopped and turned around at will. If a supertanker is heading in one direction and has the engines turned off it apparently takes around 5-6 miles to come to a standstill.

Turning it around takes another 2 miles. Now, for a moment imagine someone without this understanding watching a radar image of said tanker. Eventually, it’s likely they would question why it is taking so long to stop. ‘Why is it still going the same way?’ ‘The order was given ages ago, surely the captain could have changed direction before now?’ ‘There must be other reasons for this because it still hasn’t turned around’.

Two factors influence this viewpoint – ignorance and impatience. Ignorance is not used here as a pejorative term; truly you can’t know what you don’t know, and no-one can know everything, so some latitude is needed by both observer and expert. However, there is a self-deception that the little knowledge one has makes you believe you do know everything that’s essential, forgetting that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So even knowing something can be a hindrance to seeing the bigger picture clearly.

Impatience is more of an individual attitude, wanting something quicker than it is possible to obtain. To stand on the bridge of the tanker (or shout down a telephone, or write a message) and demand that the ship stop immediately and turn around, without any appreciation of what it takes to carry out the task, is akin to expecting your children to be teenagers after their 3rd birthday – it’s foolish to want it and obvious it can’t happen. Clearly impatience is borne from a lack of trust, and trust is earned and developed by what we see taking place. Nonetheless, an ability to see beyond what is immediately apparent is required to establish a better view.

If we apply the ship illustration to Liverpool FC, (not hard, given the city’s nature as a port), this tanker is definitely large, despite its detractors wishing to convince us otherwise. What is strange, though, is the seeming inability of some commentators to trust that the captain of this vessel (read Manager) is applying his skills and vast knowledge to turning the ship around, with no appreciation that it takes 5-6 miles to slow it down sufficiently to turn. After almost literally parachuting onto the bridge a week ago, Kenny Dalglish is already being criticised and judged on the fact that his team hasn’t yet won a game, and only 3 played at that. ‘Why is the ship still going in the same direction?’ ‘Surely he should have turned it around by now?’ ‘We’ve been going in the wrong direction for too long, it’s time to go the other way’.

If we stopped to appreciate it, we would see that he’s in charge, he knows the previous course and is doing something about it. Even just the players’ positive approach on the pitch after one week is evidence of that.

Also strange is how observers display a lack of trust in FSG, the owners of the ‘ship’, to handle what has been (still is) a stormy passage, by already questioning the wisdom and understanding of their involvement through a seeming lack of action in the transfer market. How many of those same commentators would outline their own personal or business dealings in front of watching millions? To assume John W Henry and his team is doing nothing because he is not revealing every step in public is plain foolishness. To expect otherwise is nothing more than an immature desire to feed an uncontrolled appetite for information, as a hungry child in a tantrum rails against its parents. Henry and Werner’s professional and successful business experience certainly wouldn’t allow them to respond to the impatient cries just to get some peace. It is certain they will be involved in deep discussion about all aspects of their highly-valued and valuable possession.

Dalglish It has, of course, been logged that NESV brought about the end of a soul-destroying wait for glory to the Boston Red Sox who, subsequent to Henry’s ownership, won the baseball version of the Premier League twice after 80 years of being in the doldrums. But did that happen the week after he purchased the club? He had to oversee change, and the ‘ship’ carried on for a while before it was in a position to turn round. When once it faced a new direction, however, then so did its fortunes because the ones in charge knew what they were doing.

This aforementioned trust is not the remnants of the trust that was betrayed by the dealings of the previous owners; nor is it the same trust that was whittled down by un-Liverpool-esque periods of in-house public bickering; nor is it even the same trust that was drained away by the ability of the recently-removed manager. This trust cannot be tainted by those things because now there are different factors underpinning the structure. If you like, the waters under the ship are slowly but surely becoming calmer. The one at the helm knows the ship better than those who have tried steering it in recent times. Dalglish understands that a slowing of previous momentum is needed before there is a change of direction. To first dominate, then take a blow, then fight back against Everton when only two weeks previous there was no fight in the team at all is evidence of the slowing. Defeats yet now a draw. Soon there will be wins, even away wins. The preparation behind the scenes will start to take a grip on matters on-field and there will be new forward motion. There is already a whiff of a new breeze blowing through the rafters of Anfield.

‘Some day my ship will come in’ is a well-known phrase to illustrate a change of fortune. For Liverpool FC and its supporters, it’s time to believe that day is on its way.

Tim Headley

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