A year ago today, January 8th 2011, Liverpool fans got the news they had long been waiting for:
Roy Hodgson has today left Liverpool Football Club by mutual consent, with former manager and legend Kenny Dalglish taking over the Anfield hot seat.
The King had returned.
Dalglish returned early from his holiday, cutting short his cruise to fly into Manchester airport, straight into an interview with LFCTV, talk with the backroom staff and prepare for his first game back in – what was then only interim – charge.
That was the small matter of an FA Cup third round tie at Old Trafford. The Reds went on to lose, with Steven Gerrard controversially sent off by Howard Webb. But the traveling Reds went home happy; the King was back, the club was united and even then the signs of more attractive football were apparent.
One of the first things Dalglish did was bring in former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke. Over the next few months we witnessed an improved style of play and better defending – much of which has been accredited to Clarke’s work on the training ground.
Kenny’s first League game back was away to Blackpool. It started well, a Torres goal after just 3 minutes, but ultimately it was another defeat – with Milan Jovanovic playing his only game under Dalglish.
Next up was the Merseyside derby which ended in a draw, before a visit to Wolves saw things click together with a 3-0 win – Meireles with a stunning volley and Torres on form.
Then came the madness of the transfer window – Torres sensationally leaving for Chelsea, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll arriving.
But the wins started to build up; Fulham, Stoke, and then memorably at Chelsea. The season ended up well, with the run of games that saw 5-0 (Birmingham), 3-0 (Newcastle), and 5-2 (Fulham) showing huge signs of attacking intent.
The Reds finished sixth, just outside of the European places.
Then came the summer; with Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique, Craig Bellamy, Sebastian Coates and Alexander Doni all arriving after Kenny had been given the job on a permanent basis.
When Dalglish was appointed Liverpool sat four points above the relegation zone and had been knocked out of the League Cup by fourth division Northampton.
What a difference a year makes.