The sigh of relief could be heard from miles around Anfield. The “regime” had dragged out throughout the winter months but the conclusion of the saga would bring renewed optimism to Liverpool. The king had returned.
The impact of this managerial change gave fans the sense that the club was moving in the right direction once again. Phrases such as “bringing the boot room back” were sure to give the players the lift they so desperately needed. Losses to Blackpool and Wolves would no longer be classed as learning curves but more abysmal results. From this moment on, the performance on the pitch was that of a new, rejuvenated Liverpool.
Old Trafford was the first test on the agenda and a place in the next round of the F.A. cup at stake. Before Kenny’s return, you could have been excused for expecting a comfortable Manchester victory but with the King back at the helm, the playing field was even. From the word go, the players were showing a new sense of freedom, a more motivated approach, a new belief. The penalty decision and a red card for our captain were unfortunate but in no way spoilt the manager’s return, the fans in full voice and singing Kenny’s name was enough.
The Anfield return could not come quick enough and the scene was set for an electric atmosphere. We were all treated to the sight of our famous ‘This Is Anfield’ sign being touched as he led the players down the tunnel onto the Anfield turf while the Kop belted out “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. The 29th minute brought the first goal and from an unlikely source, Raul Meireles with a beauty of a strike. Too many times this season have Liverpool conceded, this usually followed by a sense of negativity. On this occasion, Liverpool fought back to earn a much needed point from another close rival.
Wolverhampton was to be the beginning of a 5 game period where is seemed to every Liverpool fan that this was the perfect honeymoon. One player in particular struggled to find his feet in the Premier League thus far, but now seemed to be fresher and enjoying his football, this player is Raul Meireles. A breath of fresh air for the team who is filling the void nicely left behind by Alonso and Mascherano. Things were staring to look up for the Anfield faithful. Our so far lacklustre defence has been our downfall under Roy, meanwhile only a couple of months later, we are looking more sharp and, have most importantly, plugged the leak of goals conceded. One of Kenny’s greatest abilities is realising the team can always find ways to improve. No mistake will go un-analysed.
The one thought in the mind of every Liverpool fan was “Who are we signing, if anyone, during this transfer window?” We were not to be left disappointed yet again. The capture of Luis Suarez from Ajax and Andy Carroll from Newcastle proved that Kenny is a man on a mission to restore stability and also bring in the right players. Not just any players though, those who will help bring success to the club, and who to be a better judge than our manager. The willingness to smash the transfer records not only showed this but also showed the manager has the full backing of our new board.
A series of impressive results against Fulham, Stoke and most importantly Chelsea brought much needed points to a club in crisis and who were being labelled in many quarters as relegation candidates, something that any Liverpool manager would be ashamed of. Sitting in 6th place at the moment in the league with the outside chance of still grasping a hold of that magic 4th place may not have been at the front of any supporters mind during the first few months of the season.
The end of February/beginning of March has been a wakeup call to Liverpool and some have been saying that the ‘honeymoon’ period is at its end. Ironing out the problems within the squad that have lead to poor results against Wigan, Sparta Prague and an abysmal display against then bottom of the table West Ham have become number one priority. Frustration is bound to kick in when the team go to Stamford Bridge and produce a great display to beat Chelsea, and then struggle severely against the Hammers. Liverpool is a team in transition and nobody will get as much time to improve and rebuild the squad as King Kenny.
On the 6th March, the message was clear to the owners that the Kop wanted Kenny permanently at Anfield. Manchester United the visitors and once again we were set for a splendid afternoon of football. Kenny had put out a strong XI with the presence of new boy Andy Carroll on the bench, there was excitement around Anfield. From the kick off, Kenny’s impact on the squad was obvious. Dirk Kuyt broke his scoring duct against the enemy and bagged himself a well deserved hat trick before the home fans were treat to the sight of £35 million signing Carroll making his debut. The day was perfect as a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ rang around the stands with Kenny waving back with a smile on his face.
Our manager loves this job and loves this club. Coming back to the manager’s hot seat is one big ‘honeymoon’ to which we will all see ups and downs. Good times are ahead and with Kenny’s return comes that much needed stability we’ve all been longing for. The honeymoon will never be over. Long live the King.