KENNY Dalglish should bottle whatever it is he puts in the water at Anfield. Dalglish’s presence back at the helm of England’s most successful club has created a tonic of heart, spirit and tenacity that many thought wouldn’t return to the side after what has been a dismal 18 months.
Encapsulated by a dogged win at the normally impenetrable Stamford Bridge, Liverpool’s team spirit and togetherness shone through in what had the potential to be a very explosive fixture.
Instead, Liverpool settled into the game well after some early nerves, nullified Chelsea‘s attacking threat, nicked a goal and comfortably saw out the game.
Evidence of a change in tactics and emphasis was Liverpool’s willingness to still go forward after going ahead. Under the pervious regime Liverpool would often sit back and invite pressure in such a game rather than pushing for a second or third and end the game as a contest.
Even looking back at the home win over Chelsea earlier in the season, arguably Roy Hodgson’s finest moment at Liverpool this was noticeable.
Liverpool had taken a two goal lead into half-time yet facing a Chelsea side who were more than capable of overturning the deficit, the team sat back and absorbed somewhat fortunately, the inevitable barrage of Chelsea pressure in the second half.
Had Liverpool done the same on Sunday, the result could have been very different. Rather than passing their way out of trouble, Liverpool would have resorted to hoof-ball only serving to provide a temporary reprieve.
Dalglish’s reign of course didn’t get off to a flyer. A harsh defeat at against Man Utd, an indifferent display against Blackpool and scraping a draw in the Merseyside derby, followed by the collection of four consecutive wins and clean-sheets.
This all points to progression through the hard work, man-motivation and tactical skills of Dalglish and of course, the return of the ‘pass and move’ football which made the club so great.
From a so called ‘tactical dinosaur’ Dalglish has proved that his first month in charge is no ‘honeymoon period’. He is here to improve the fortunes of the team through his personal approach and football knowhow, not through some mystical aura that he generates.
An approach that so many other clubs have fallen foul to over the years in appointing the romantic’s manager in form of past heroes.
Dalglish of course is a former hero yet differs from so many by actually having the pedigree and nouse to do the job as well as embracing and combining modern methods into his own; personified by his swift appointment of coach Steve Clarke.
On Liverpool’s improved fortunes under Dalglish, principal owner John Henry stated, “The philosophy we were playing under (with Roy Hodgson) didn’t seem to suit the club and we knew we had to make a change. We knew we wanted to change the type of football we were playing, we wanted to move to a much more positive pass-and-move philosophy.
“I talked with Kenny about it and said we needed someone to come in for six months and stabilise the club on the field and the club in general. But I can’t imagine how anyone can be more beloved by fans.”
It may be a fleeting statement from the owner about the fans’ love and respect for Dalglish, yet the positive messages and promises the owners have lived up to have buoyed Liverpool as a colletive, the club and fans alike.
The appointment of Dalglish as long term Liverpool manager would only solidify the owners intent on returning Liverpool back to the pinnacle of football and what better man to lead that charge than The King?