Liverpool FC: 10 Reasons Kenny Dalglish Needs to Be Sacked from Anfield

Louis Hamwey@thecriterionmanAnalyst IIIMarch 29, 2012

Liverpool FC: 10 Reasons Kenny Dalglish Needs to Be Sacked from Anfield

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    Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is on the hot seat at Anfield. With the club sitting in seventh place and eight points back of a consolatory Europa League spot, things have not improved for the one-time most successful club in England, and it is looking more and more like the manager will be the one to pay for it.

    The Reds spent big in the offseason, hoping to add to the talent they brought in during the winter transfer window of 2011 that gave them a strong finish to the season. However, the additions of Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and others have done little to get them back to an elite level.

    As usual, the blame falls on the head, and Dalglish is skating on thin ice heading into the season's home stretch. Back-to-back losses to two relegated sides in the league have the top layer cracking, and one wrong move could send him plunging to an icy abyss.

    Here are 10 reasons he needs to be sacked from Anfield.

The Suarez Controversy

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    For all the pain and vitriol that has surrounded the red side of Liverpool, due to poor results and another season of missed opportunities, it has been nowhere near the volatility Luis Suarez has brought to the club.

    His racial slur directed at Patrice Evra during a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United became the most debated topic amongst pundits following its report. The discussion intensified further as Suarez was handed a heavy eight-game ban from FA competition for his actions by the FA.

    Following his return, when Liverpool met United for the first time since the incident, Suarez and Evra were both in the starting lineup and expected to perform the customary handshake before the match. However, as Evra stuck out his hand waiting for Suarez’s in return, Suarez childishly avoided it and kept going.

    All of Suarez’s actions have little to do with Dalgish’s management. But the reactions to the incidents were nothing short of wrong.

    Following the suspension, he and his players all wore shirts displaying Suarez’s name and image in support of their player. Deep down, this is a harmless homage to a friend and colleague.

    But Dalglish seemed to not understand how this would be presented to the world. He was not a supporter of a friend who is going through a rough time. He was the enabler of a racist.

    His further naiveté showed when the handshake incident occurred. According to reports, Suarez had promised that he would not pull any stunts, so no one can blame management for what he did. But if Dalglish wanted to put his stamp and right the wrong, he should have substituted the Uruguayan before the ball even kicked off.

    For the better half of the season, all Liverpool talk was about the atrocity that is Luis Suarez. There was even discussion about selling off their best player to make it look as if they were not trying to undermine the extensive efforts FIFA has gone to to eradicate racism from the game.

    Dalglish cannot be blamed for any of Suarez’s actions, but his lack of institutional control allowed it to spread well beyond the moments they occurred.

The Carling Cup Is Not Enough

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    Liverpool was in real danger of going the way of Arsenal in recent years in terms of silverware. Six straight years without a cup left a barren shelf for the second half of the decade and was proof of just how low the club had sunk.

    However, this season hope was restored as they valiantly disposed of Cardiff City on penalties in this year’s Carling Cup final.

    Make no mistake, Liverpool fans and the club itself understand that this is small victory in the grand scheme of things. Of course there are few less meaningful titles than the Football League Cup. A tournament that is seen as more of a time for even championship sides to get their reserves some minutes, it hardly registers on most top clubs' calenders.

    But the win resonated amongst the fan base, knowing that even something as small as this can be the kick start they need to return back to the glory that the club has established over a century of excellence.

    However, since the win, Liverpool have gone the wrong direction. In the six games they have played since, they have lost four and won two, one of which was an FA Cup match. They have not moved from seventh place in the league and are currently in their worst run of form on the season.

    Dalglish may have gotten them their trophy, but if he cannot make anything else out of it, then it would be all for naught. He won’t be able to save his job with only a Carling Cup to his name.

Where Is the Future?

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    Looking at the current state of the club has to put any well-intentioned Liverpool supporter, and for that matter, the entire footballing family, on edge.

    The club that plays its games at Anfield is necessary for the continued success of the sport in England. The heart and breath that those of the North envelope themselves with for the game requires the rivalry between United and Liverpool to flourish to be able to sustain a palpable future.

    United is holding up their end of the bargain, about to win their second straight league title and go two up in terms of overall trophies on the Reds. But Liverpool seems to be faltering to an uncertain end.

    As previously mentioned, Dalglish spent a good deal of money to bring in some young talent for the future. However, there seems to be little sign that this is the kind of talent you can build a foundation on.

    Injuries have been prevalent, inconsistent play has sidelined many and an overall lack of guidance has left everything from fringe players to notable names out in the fields, wandering aimlessly without a role.

    There does not seem to be a structured plan for developing a long-term solution to this league drought. Team morale may be better than at some other wayward clubs, but their performance on the field shows the lack of direction.

    There is over £50 million in strikers that cannot play together. A midfield that is more of a crockpot of solid role players with no initiative. And a backline whose stability is as random as the health of Steven Gerrard.

    For me, there is just no light at the end of the tunnel that should keep him in charge.

The Club Should Not Risk His Legacy

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    Let’s not forget something through all this negativity—Kenny Dalglish is a Liverpool legend, one of the all-time greats to sport a shirt that has been worn by so many of his equal.

    He helped the Reds to seven league titles, two FA Cups and three European Cups. His role as player-manager from 1985-1991 was more indicative of a legacy that understood more about the game than few others ever could.

    Why would the club want to risk tarnishing that?

    It was, at the time, quite clear that part of the hiring of Dalglish was to bring back a bit of history and hope that someone who knew how to win in Red would be able to teach the current crop of players to as well. It was a business move as much as anything, bringing dads to the stadiums with their children, hoping to replicate the glorious '80s.

    But times have changed, and it is one thing to manage from the sideline, helpless in aiding your team when they struggle, and quite another with the success Dalglish had the first time around.

    A strong personality, he was always willing to take the brunt of the blame for a loss on his shoulders as player-manager, as he knew that his performance directly affected it. But now in the dugout, it is difficult for him to comprehend this new sense of impotence and deal with the reactions of the media.

    It was not a wrong decision to hire him in the first place, but it has become wrong to keep him. Like putting a championship thoroughbred out to pasture, it is time for Dalglish to ride off into the sunset. It is not his game anymore.

He Is Losing the Media

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    The worst possible thing a manager on the hot seat can do is turn against the very people that decide his job. Not the fans, not the players and not the owners. It’s the media.

    Contrary to the romantic notion we have about the sport and ourselves, this is business, and public opinion is influenced and manifested through the work of the media. The understanding the world has of any club is by the way they are portrayed through publications, both tabloids and legitimate works.

    It is ever so important that to maintain job security in this profession, you ensure that the media has got your back. The only way to do that is answer every single question with banal and inconclusive sentences that offer nothing in terms of content and even less into your own psyche. Dalglish is deviating from this.

    In just this past month, Dalglish has made two errors, one concerning his youth players and the club's current sponsors:

    You can measure it by how the club has progressed and where it is, from the first team to the kids. Off the pitch, especially, the club is a lot stronger than what it was. You go off the pitch and see how much money we are getting through sponsorship and kit deals.

    Harmless enough, and actually very optimistic when read at face value. However, this is how the headline greets a reader: “Liverpool Just as Important as Premier League Points, Says Kenny Dalglish, ahead of Merseyside Derby”

    Another short quote reads like this:

    “We have got a problem winning games in the league. We have to educate ourselves and maybe we have to not play the lovely football that we have been." Asked whether that meant he was considering deploying a more direct style of play, he replied cryptically "maybe we have to change our philosophies a wee bit" and declined to elaborate.

    And the headline: “Kenny Dalglish says Liverpool need to Change Their Philosophy”

    Both of these quotes read without any pre-existing notion of their context are exactly the kind of talk you want to hear from the manager. But we all read them with the headline in mind, bringing us back to a sense of uncertainty and unrest in each quote.

    The media is a very powerful force. If you give them too much they will always turn it against you. The more Dalglish comes under fire, the deeper he will dig that hole until it’s too deep to climb out.

A “False Prophet”

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    There is a very interesting phenomenon that happens in sports that has not yet been explained. It is that when a failing coach is fired, the person who replaces him is met with instant success.

    I have not numbers to back this up, no grand opta stat that proves it. But I do have a handful of cases within the past few months to prove it: the Washington Capitals (NHL), Chelsea FC (EPL), Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) and New York Knicks (NBA). Every one of these teams have seen their coaches and managers replaced within the last year and found their fortunes changed, with the only real change taking place in the head coaching spot.

    However, they all also have fallen back to earth and more or less fizzled out to the same position they were when the incumbent was sacked after a month or two on the job.

    I have no idea if the new face sparks a new life into players, or if it’s kind of under the philosophy that it is all optimism at first. Perhaps it could be that the new coach is unknown to his rivals, or even he manages with nothing to lose.

    Whatever it is, it is an absolute reality, and one that Liverpool realized when Dalglish first took over.

    Dalglish was what I like to call a “false prophet”. His initial success is more bred through the above psychological implications, as well as a lack of expectations from fans and the players. Anything they did at his arrival is actually hurting him now as that was established as the norm and not a “false-positive”.

    Now that Dalglish’s true colors as a manager are showing, it is best to move on before the truth is further exposed.

Time for Reinvention

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    Liverpool are not out of it all yet. They may linger far outside of a European spot in the table, but they will be in Europa League next season thanks to their Carling Cup win and still have a good shot at the FA Cup. Again, it would not be the league, but it is still a very respectable trophy to hoist.

    With all that at stake, the time for a new “false prophet” to come take the reins at Anfield is now. An interim manager that could see out the final two months, riding the high of his arrival all the way to Wembley.

    Beyond that, their place in the Europa League is a good spot for them to begin to reinvent who they are. It is becoming apparent that the English style of the game is no longer feasible throughout the continent. Both Manchester squads were bounced from Europe twice by faster and more skilled clubs.

    Liverpool are in a unique position where the onus on winning is not in now as much as it could be for the future. They could be the first English team to really develop this indirect possession style of play and bring in the players to make it happen.

    While clubs like United, City and Arsenal are forced into the maxim of "must win now", playing a style that will only get them so far, Liverpool could become the trend setter for the new brand of the English game.

    It would be a bold and daring move, but if it is to happen, now would be the time.

All Is Well…Except His Job Security

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    Whether you believe it to be fair or not, former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas was sacked because of clubhouse unrest. His inability to manage the talent and egos of the club’s legends led to an out spoken wave of admonishment from those players, and ultimately the firing of Villas-Boas.

    I personally favored the move, but I can see how many saw it as short-sighted by the club. But then again, if he could not manager players now, what is to say he would be able to do it in the future? Villas-Boas signed his own death certificate with this stubbornness.

    Dalglish finds himself in the exact same state as Villas-Boas in terms of job security, but with none of the melodrama. Most would see this as a good thing, that all he has to do is fix the results and his job would be safe. However, the fact that even with the club’s support his future is still under question should raise alarms that perhaps there is something else going on.

    It could be problems with the front office or even lack of leadership in the clubhouse that has just been kept quiet. But either way, I find it particularly intriguing that a man that has done everything right except win at the very highest of levels is still feeling the pressure.

The Fans Are Speaking

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    It never resonates so heavily, this call for change, as when it comes from the fans themselves. Read any message board, forum or article comments, and you will be inundated with a tidal wave of damnations and ridicule directed toward the man who brought so much to this club.

    It will range everything from hate-filled vitriol too candid to write here to my personal favorite, the ornate proclamation of something more grand than what we see—“The club is bigger than the man”.

    But both and everything in between mean one thing—the fans are not happy.

Managers Have Been Fired for Less

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    Every single thing I have mentioned above is true and accurate. But every manager who has been sacked over the years have not had this many reasons for their dismissal.

    It is an absolute fact that the lifespan of a manager in the Premier League is as short as can be. Is somewhat like a cockroach, where your life is as long as your success at escaping death endures.

    Firings are rarely rational and almost never completely justified, but it is the nature of the position. Dalglish was well aware when he took the role, and now must be prepared to face this grim reality.

Do You Think King Kenny Should Be Sacked?

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    It will be an interesting next few weeks for the former Liverpool star as he endures perhaps his most difficult tenure with the club in any role.  But if we remove our feelings or personal beliefs from the equation, this is the reality: Liverpool can walk away with two trophies and still have a European competition next season.

    So with that in mind, do you still think he should be sacked? If so, what are your reasons? If not, then how do you defend him?

    As always, please leave your comments below and thanks for reading!


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