Dalglish – Master of the Game

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Super performance and a great result for The Reds over Wolves at the weekend. The return of Dalglish has been quite literally like a second coming and on another biblical note, if we were to go back in time a couple of weeks and believed the spin we were hearing from our then manager Roy Hodgson and his media cronies, then surely what we are now witnessing is the greatest return from the dead since Lazarus!

But we all knew we were being fed a phony line by those clowns and the football we have played in the short time since Kenny’s return has exposed the myths that those guys were peddling and left them all with a lot of egg on their faces. Anyone who thought that managers were becoming less important in the modern game should have a good look at what’s going on at Liverpool these days and think again.

Hodgson often bemoaned the fact that we had inherited a poor squad of players which must have done wonders for the confidence in our dressing room. One of the reasons he put forward for our poor performances was that the squad wasn’t his, which conveniently overlooked the fact that when we lost against the likes of Newcastle and Blackburn etc, they had recently appointed managers in charge with squads that could hardly be considered their own and yet they seemed to have little trouble it making the best of things and getting a performance from their team. It’s hard to believe that Kenny is dealing with the same group of players. Unlike Hodgson, he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to make any signings but he is making the best of the squad he has and, publicly at least, telling the players they are good enough and they just need to believe in themselves. Compared to the confidence sapping statements of the previous manager, this must be like music to the ears of our players and I think we can see the effect it is having on the performances.

Another old chestnut from Hodgson and his cronies that we heard endlessly during his six months in charge was that he needed more time to get his ideas over to the players, another lame excuse that we’ve seen exposed since Dalglish took over. After barely a week in charge and a couple of training sessions it was evident that Kenny was having no trouble getting his ideas over to the players. There were a lot of positives for us to take from our 1-0 cup defeat at the Theatre of Prawns, even more in our 2-1 defeat at Blackpool, our first half display against our wee neighbours was some of the best football we’ve played for a very long time and this culminated in our terrific performance in demolishing Wolves at the weekend which stands in stark contrast to our dreadful display when they beat us at Anfield just a few weeks ago.

I know Hodgson is gone now and I wish him well because I genuinely think he did what might be considered his best in a job where he was clearly out of his depth but I just find it slightly annoying that I am still seeing little suggestions in the media here and there that he was unfairly treated and wasn’t given a proper chance. The job of a Liverpool manager these days seems to be three-pronged if you want to be successful, you’ve got to manage the players, you’ve got to manage the supporters and you’ve got to manage the media.

In my opinion Rafa Benitez succeeded at two out of three of these but it was his poor relationship with the media more so than the 7th place finish that ultimately led to his undoing and you only have to remember back to Martin Broughton’s response to some angered Liverpool fans who confronted him about Rafa’s dismissal when he told them “clearly the media don’t agree with you.” , but that’s another blog! Roy Hodgson had plenty of friends in the media but alienated himself from the players and the supporters with his stupid comments and incredibly dull and boring tactics.

But in Dalglish I believe we have a man who is a master of the game, the supporters idolize him, the players are inspired by him and he is brilliant at dealing with the media, as could be seen in the awesome way he dealt with the question about transfers on Sly Sports after the match on Saturday, which was an absolute classic in my opinion. He is very comfortable dealing with the media and actually seems to use it as a tool to reinforce his messages and instill confidence to the players and the supporters. Ok, so I know that it’s still early days but I’m delighted that he’s here and I think he’s done a brilliant job so far and made a great choice in bringing in Steve Clarke to work alongside him.

I don’t think any of us would argue that our squad is strong enough at the moment but it is certainly strong enough for us to be doing much better then we were doing under Hodgson. Winning the league or perhaps even finishing in the top four might have always been beyond us but I think we should have been certainly good enough to be around the top six. Thankfully we seem to be moving in the right direction now that Dalglish is in charge and we are playing some good football which the players seem to be enjoying and so am I.

Just before Christmas is the time when I usually start to make my plans to get over for a few games, but this year I didn’t bother. These are hard times for us all and I wasn’t about to waste any of my hard earned cash travelling over to watch Liverpool playing Hodgson’s style of shite football. But what a difference there’s been since Kenny arrived. Now I’m looking forward to our games again and I want to get over to as many as I can. The attendance figures were dropping dramatically under Roy (understandably in my opinion) but I bet they’ll be getting back to normal again soon and that’s sure to please the NESV guys.

I think Kenny and Co will milk every drop they can get from the current players but while performances are improving we still badly need some reinforcements. Our NESV owners did well in moving fairly quickly in removing Hodgson and appointing Dalglish but this January window is another test for them ahead of the even bigger test to come in the summer and these are also big tests for Damian Comolli. How much money the owners will put in and whether Comolli can secure the signings the manager wants is the big question that will be occupying our minds for the rest of this month.

There have been interesting names linked with us including a vampire and a member of the Adams Family but our valuations seem a long way off and whether these things can be resolved in the next week remains to be seen. But if we come out of yet another transfer window and once again haven’t signed some decent attacking support for Torres I will be very disappointed. Obviously we want to strengthen the side for the remainder of this season but even more importantly we need to integrate some new faces into the team in preparation for next season when a return to the top four will surely be a minimum expectation.

Anyway, I’m happy to say we’ve got a game on Wednesday against Fulham at Anfield and I’m looking forward to it as I am all of our games since Kenny’s return. Our form has been getting better with each game and with Gerrard returning from suspension and desperate to play, we should be even stronger. There are no easy games home or away in the Premiership anymore and Fulham will be a stubborn opponent for us but I can’t see past a Liverpool win and I’ll put my money on a goal for each of the new faces I expect to see at the club by the end of this window, so a 3-0 Reds win and the Legend continues!

Keep the Faith

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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