There is no doubting Kenny Dalglish’s pedigree as a player, having won five league titles and three European cups during his time at Liverpool.
He was just as successful as a manager, guiding Liverpool to a further three league titles and later transforming Blackburn Rovers from a second division side into Premier League winners. His last involvement in football was as caretaker manager at Celtic, before he re-joined Liverpool in 2009 as director of their academy.
Ever since the long-anticipated departure of Rafael Benitez finally eventuated, calls have come from supporters and former coaches and players to re-instate Dalglish as the manager of Liverpool. But is he the right man for the job?
One man that thinks so is Anfield legend Bruce Grobbelaar, who says that Dalglish would command respect from the players and bring a stabilising influence to the club.
I think maybe now is the time he can turn the tide and take the club, stabilise it, with the fans, make sure everything gets on track and take the club where it should be.
Former England coach Terry Venables agrees, saying,
Dalglish knows the club inside out and if anyone can sell the dream, then he can. Giving Dalglish the job would come with another advantage for the much-maligned Hicks and Gillett – it would appease the fans who detest them so much.
Further arguments for the appointment of Dalglish includes:
- He would be able to get the best out of the current group of players,
- He would succeed in talking Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard into staying and resisting big offers from elsewhere, and
- He could attract quality signings based on his reputation.
Whilst I am not entirely against giving Dalglish the job, I do have some issues with the idea. Firstly, is he really motivated enough to take this current Liverpool team, who endured a disappointing season in finishing seventh, and turn them into title challengers or winners? It will not be a one or two year process. With the current domination of United and Chelsea, the money of City, the threat of Arsenal and the continuing improvement of Tottenham and Aston Villa, it could take another five or more years before Liverpool can even challenge.
Secondly, the modern day fan demands instant success. Unlike most other clubs supporters, Liverpool fans gave Benitez plenty of time to achieve success, which, Champions League and FA Cup aside, he failed to do over the course of his six-year tenure. During this time, United has drawn level with their record of 18 league titles and patience is beginning to wear thin as each year passes.
Whilst Dalglish may stabilise the club initally, does Liverpool really want to put their hero in a position where the future is as insecure as the present? Transfer funds are minimal, the club is in debt like the rest of the so-called ‘Big Four’ and they will not be receiving the financial bonus that goes with Champions League qualification.
Appointing Dalglish as manager would offer a short-term solution when the long-term future of the club needs to be considered. The past is the past, and the club needs to more forward in order to be able to succeed in the future. Liverpool does not want to go the way of Newcastle United, when they appointed Alan Shearer in a desperate attempt to save them from relegation, but he could do nothing to stop their slide into the second tier of English football.
Granted, Dalglish is a far superior and experienced manager than Shearer. But Liverpool should use Newcastle as an example that heroes should be worshipped and remembered, not brought back as potential saviours.
On the other hand, other options for the Anfield hot-seat that are being bandied around such as Martin O’Neill and Roy Hodgson would also be capable of stabilising the club, as they have shown at Aston Villa and Fulham respectively, but would they be able to attract quality players and eventually move the club forward? I have my doubts. The most logical choice for me would be Guus Hiddink, even though he has decided to take up the role of Turkey’s national coach. He proved he was capable of doing two jobs during his time at Chelsea, in helping them finish the league strongly last year and also giving them an FA Cup triumph.
Much of Chelsea’s success this season can be attributed to Hiddink’s work at the end of last season, when he instilled confidence back into a squad that had been drained of it under “Big Phil” Scolari. Many Liverpool fans will argue that being the coach of such a big club is a full-time job. But given the limited amount of internationals played in a year, and the lack of quality options available, it makes sense to go after Hiddink.
However, given the dire financial position at Liverpool and Hiddink’s reputation as one of the best coaches in the world, he would not come cheaply. Nonetheless, it is an option that should be explored. It would be less of a gamble than re-instating Kenny.