Season Defining Moments - The Dalglish Factor
From the moment the season ended last year, there was a clear indication there was to be a lot of changes forthcoming at Anfield. Rafael Benitez was relieved of his duties after finishing 7th in the Premier League and failing to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. Former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were then forced to bring in Martin Broughton and team to oversee the sale of Liverpool Football Club after the Royal Bank of Scotland called time on the £300m worth of loans the club had.
Christian Purslow, self proclaimed Liverpool fan insisted he would only act in the best interests of the club, as would Chelsea fan, Martin Broughton.
After Kenny Dalglish publicly applied for the Liverpool vacancy, the Kop faithful were crying for him to be given the permanent job, but his application was all-but laughed off by Purslow and instead, Fulham manager Roy Hodgson was brought in to take over Rafa’s reigns.
The season didn’t begin too brightly, only winning one of our first EIGHT Premier League matches, including a home draw against Sunderland and losses to newly-promoted Blackpool and local-rivals Everton.
The away losses to Manchester City and Manchester United could have been forgiven, but the lack of away form was frustrating the ever-faithful Anfield crowd and when October came around, we were 19th in the table, only just above West Ham, with many claiming we would “do a Leeds”. The ever so joked about ‘Liverpool relegation party’ was actually becoming a real possibilty.
The tactics were negative, that was the most frustrating thing. We never looked like we went out to win a match, the midfield and attackers rarely received a ball to feet, and we sat back. The players looked fed-up and had no life to them. It was lazy, defensive tactics that were suited to a team that would be in a relegation fight.
The club was sold in October 2010 to FSG after a long-fought legal battle between Martin Broughton and the current owners. The owners were keen to emphasise the fact that they were in it for the long-term and were also insisting that they’d prefer there actions to do the talking in regards to the clubs’ future after learning of the problems with the previous owners.
John Henry and the respective owners quickly paid off all outstanding debts to RBS which wiped out around £270m of debt from the club making us virtually debt free.
After a continuous run of poor form, Roy Hodgson was relieved of his duties. There was only ever going to be one replacement. Enter King Kenny.
It had been a couple of months since Anfield first chanted for his return and virtually every Liverpool fan welcomed King Kenny with open arms. Nothing could really get worse, although Hodgson had recovered us to 12th in the Premier League table.
January saw the extremely unexpected departure of striker Fernando Torres, but also the signings of Luis Suarez and £35 million man, Andy Carroll. Suarez has been a revolution at Anfield. Instantly becoming a fan-favourite, his skill and determination are just two of many factors as to his success. He has contributed so much to the squad in such little time.
Carroll was injured when he signed, but made a real impact in the 3-0 win over Manchester City, scoring twice.
The Dalglish Factor:
Such a legendary figure around Anfield, he was the last man to win a Premier League title with Liverpool, and more recently, he won the Premiership with Blackburn Rovers. He defines the words ‘icon’ and ‘club legend’ in my opinion. So many times nowadays are those words attributed to players who have had a short-term impact at the club, but the loyalty Dalglish has showed and the spirit he does it in, captures me everytime.
The one thing I love most about our new manager, is that he celebrates a goal how it should be celebrated. It’s beyond my living memory since we had a manager that did that.
This is not all, through solely his personality and character, he has transformed Liverpool’s fortunes which were looking incredibly bleak at the turn of the year, to now looking at a 5th place finish and the prospect of Europa League next season.
The team were given the tactical freedom to express themselves on the pitch, through attacking-minded football which suited the full-backs, Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly who both were in fine form.
The confidence King Kenny has in his squad lifts the team spirit dramatically. Many managers would be very reluctant to play players with no experience and a scarce amound of match-time this season. But Kenny Dalglish knew the abilities of John Flanagan, Jack Robinson, Maxi Rodriguez and Jay Spearing (to name a few), and all have deserved the plaudits heading their way.
Dalglish fronting the attack-side of things, quite efficiently too as since he took over, Liverpool are the highest scoring team in the Premier League with 35 goals in the 16 games he has been in charge. Steve Clarke was also hired to sure up the defence and since appointed, the frail defence once showed under Hodgson became non-existent as Liverpool have only conceded 14 goals in the 16 games Dalglish has been in charge too.
Teams once again, fear to play Liverpool. Jack Wilshere praised Liverpool’s late-season push on Twitter, stating that he believed Liverpool would be serious title contenders next year. William Gallas has also begun to doubt whether Tottenham will be able to compete with Liverpool next season.
Another interesting fact to come out is that Liverpool fans are now the loudest in the Premier League since Dalglish took over.
The only thing that worries me with this deal is that now Dalglish has been appointed, there is only one way to go. Dalglish will never be sacked or relieved from his duties, the owners would see such a backlash it would be unreal. But Kenny knows what’s best for this football club, and despite his modest attitude, he knows he is the one thing that is right for the success of the club.
Win Percentage – Hodgson: 35% : 63% Dalglish:
Goal Difference – Hodgson: -3 : +21 Dalglish:
Games Played – Hodgson: 20 : 16 Dalglish:
Points – Hodgson: 25 : 16 Dalglish:
If you had told me in January, we would finish ahead of Spurs and within touching distance of Manchester City, I would have called you mad. I am looking forward to next season more than ever now. I doubt we’ll win the league, I think it’ll be too early, but we’ll be a dominant force again, no doubt about that. But you never know.
I do not blame Roy Hodgson either, I rate him as a manager, the job was simply too grand a task for him. He was out of his comfort-zone. I place the blame with Christian Purslow who wrote off King Kenny’s application and offered Hodgson the job in the first place. I have no doubts Hodgson will do a fantastic job at West Brom.
I am not a professional writer or journalist, in-fact, I’m still at school. There will be errors in my piece as I haven’t even checked it, no doubt, but in general, let me know of your thoughts on this on Twitter: @jackwidnell