Monday, 10 January 2011

Is King Kenny enough to make the difference at Anfield?

As a Liverpool fan, this has indeed been one of the most uplifting weeks in a long time with news that Liverpool legend, Kenny Dalglish was back as Liverpool manager till the end of the season.

While King Kenny's return is a welcome relief given the calamity that was Rafael Benitez last season and the ineffectiveness of Roy Hodgson to make things happen thus far this season, you have to wonder if Liverpool are setting themselves up for disappointment again.

Kenny Daglish was an inspiration as a player, captain and manager in his heyday.  In the time that he stopped managing Liverpool, they've seen the likes of Roy Evans, Graeme Souness, Gerrard Houllier, Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson installed as Liverpool manager.  Each one has gone to fail miserably after leaving Liverpool's managerial post and it makes you wonder if the position of Liverpool manager is somehow cursed since teams like Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal started winning the Premier League.

When Dalglish had last managed Liverpool, the number of foreign players in the English game was minimal, long-ball football was British football and the focus to do well in the FA Cup and league was paramount (as English teams were banned for Europe for several years in the 1980's).  Today priorities seem to have changed, the style of football has changed, the money in football has changed, the patience to drive out results no longer exists and the team spirit that once existed has changed.

Six months is too short a period for a manager to make his mark on the team but this is what Kenny Dalglish has got at the moment as the owner's have made it very clear that they will consider other managerial options this summer.  What can Dalglish aim to achieve then in six months?  The focus in my opinion would have to be to get the confidence back in his players.  At the moment, they're out their on the field but they're lost.  The fear they put into their opposition is waning away and every game for Liverpool has to be like a Cup Final between now and the end of the season.  They need to go in with a determination to win.  The body language needs to instill the spirit of champions.  What do champions feel like?  King Kenny knows this all too well and this could perhaps be his biggest contribution on the team.

He's brought in Steve Clarke who's an experienced veteran of the game as first team coach.  That is fine for managing the team tactically but Kenny Dalglish if he is to leave his mark, has to bring back that killer instinct that was once within Liverpool.  Torres needs to have that fire back in his eyes, Gerrard needs to take control of the centre of the park and the defence needs to start looking rock solid again.  Assembling great players doesn't make a team.  Having the confidence to work as a unit makes a great team.  Roy Hodgson showed us how this was possible at Fulham last year and that could perhaps what his greatest failing could've been.  Liverpool is not Fulham and maybe his techniques for turning Fulham into a unit weren't what was going to work at Liverpool.

Let's hope Liverpool live to tell another tale under Kenny Dalglish.  In the meantime, remember Liverpool fans, You'll Never Walk Alone.