Saturday 8th January 2011 will long live in the memory for Liverpool fans far and wide. Struggling in the league, 13 wins in 31 was hardly what was expected in the corridors of Anfield at the beginning of the 2010’11 season. The Club and the City had renewed optimism, away from the shambles of the Hicks and Gillett era, and the right noises were coming from the new boardroom incumbents. Liverpool FC felt good again, it felt real, and it felt a resurgence.
The signings of Meireles, a player widely courted by some of Europe’s elite, and Joe Cole, one of England’s most talented players in recent memory, stated a message of what was to come. Over the next few months however, it slowly turned from optimism to despair, from hope to fear. Blackpool and Wolves both triumphed at Anfield, each performance was as disappointing as the one before, when a corner seemed to be turned, it was immediately reserved back around again, and it seemed that LFC were in freefall.
The announcements of January 8th sent a shockwave through the hearts of all Liverpool fans and the Football world too. The return of the King, arguably Liverpool’s greatest ever player, a legend among Kopites. The streets around Anfield seemed to be transferred in time to a scene from ‘’Life on Mars’’, with 1980’s shirts adorned with Crown Paints, Candy and number 7’s. It was if the club had turned full circle, been reborn. The messiah was called, and he answered. King Kenny was back, and the situation we found ourselves in was no longer deemed to be an issue. Fans stopped looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone; they looked forward, anticipation of flying up the table, of beating the best, and becoming the best once again.
The script was written like an Oscar winning movie, the return at Old Trafford, home of one of our deadliest rivals, in the most famous cup competition in the world. It was like a fairytale, Scousers all over the world were no longer worried, the consensus was that things can only get better, and it looked like it would. After a dubious penalty decision and a sending off, the players responded at Old Trafford, with a display of character and emotion, which seemingly had been devoid under our previous stewardship. The shackles were removed, the players expressed themselves, not afraid to forge an opening or a chance, it was if the team had been injected with a dose of King Kenny adrenaline, there is no way they could let down the King.
The performance at Molineux on 22nd January was the most complete performance of the season. Defence and Midfield gelled and excelled, the passing was sharper and crisper, and the chances presented were taken in deadly fashion. A huge leap had been taken, and those 3 points seemed to take the monkey off the player’s backs. A huge wind of change was sweeping through the Shankly Gates, and it was felt across the world of football. The images of Dalglish leaving the tunnel and touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign on his first game back at Anfield was moving and poignant, and had hairs on the back of all Liverpool fans necks standing to attention. The fans had got what they wanted, and they were not going to give it up.
The signings of Suarez and Carroll showed Liverpool meant business, and this was a new age for all supporters. Fans old enough to tell their children about Dalglish in the 80’s had their main man back, and the younger fans began to learn how everyone felt when Dalglish was winning European Cups and league titles during his first spell. They began to realise how special he was.
With every dream however, there is always a point were you wake up. Almost two months have passed, and whilst significant improvements have been made, it is time to look at the bigger picture. Great performances at Stamford Bridge and Molineux have been soured with defeats at West Ham and Blackpool.
Poor performances against Wigan and Sparta Prague have further added fuel to the fire that the honeymoon is over. Never will a manager be given more support, time and respect than Dalglish, there are still major points lacking. At the end of the day football is a results driven business. After 11 games, 5 have been won, 3 drawn and 3 defeats. Two of those defeats have been to teams fighting relegation, whilst points have been dropped against Everton and Wigan at home.
Whilst we are a team still in construction, all the fans know and Dalglish does too that we need to bring one major factor to the table: Consistency. Why beat Chelsea, if we then lose at Blackpool and West Ham? The emergence of Martin Kelly, Raul Meireles, and Luis Suarez offer great hope for the future, along with Andy Carroll’s much anticipated debut, but Dalglish may find himself in the hardest job he has and is ever likely to do. He will be granted the luxury of time no doubt, but for now, for fans and management, it is time to knuckle down, and prepare for a road ahead with many pot-holes.
Like Dalglish said himself ‘’we will get as many points as we can, and see where we end up.”