Kenny Dalglish Sacked: The Highs and Lows of King Kenny's Time at Liverpool

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2012

Kenny Dalglish Sacked: The Highs and Lows of King Kenny's Time at Liverpool

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    The sacking by Liverpool FC of manager Kenny Dalglish means that it has been a thoroughly dreadful end to a mostly disappointing season for most fans and the man himself the supporters long called "King Kenny".

    After the owning group, FSG, made the decision to part ways with Dalglish, much store was made in their official statement on the poor Premier League position for the past season, with the Reds ending the campaign in eighth place.

    A League Cup victory earlier in the season, Liverpool's first piece of silverware in six years and another domestic final, in which the Reds were beaten, were not deemed to be evidence enough of an improvement on last season.

    The board of Liverpool wanted Champions League football this season after spending heavily last summer, and ultimately, it is the failure to deliver this which has cost Dalglish his job.

    After a season of ups and downs, Dalglish's 14-month spell back in charge of his beloved club is over.

    Here are the highlights, and the lowlights, since Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson—now the England manager.

HIGH: Dalglish Returns, and the Defeat to Manchester United Barely Registers

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    With Liverpool in disarray, Roy Hodgson well out of his depth and the Kop in utter turmoil at what to do for the best of the club, up stepped the one man who could pull it all together.

    Kenny Dalglish jumped off a cruise ship halfway round the other side of the world to make it back in time for an FA Cup tie against Manchester United, as he took on the caretaker-manager role for the Reds until the end of the season.

    Liverpool lost the match, 1-0, but hardly anybody cared; the Reds had been the better side and might have won had captain Steven Gerrard not been sent off.

    More importantly, the King was back in his rightful place.

LOW: Blackpool Do the Double as Reds Realise There Will Be No Magic Reversal

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    Dalglish's return didn't quite go to plan, as he suffered defeat in his first Premier League match in charge of Liverpool as well, losing 2-1 to Blackpool.

    It wasn't a vintage match or performance from the away side, but with a derby match against Everton on the horizon, it was generally accepted that Dalglish had used this game to look at other options within the squad, handing a rare start to the likes of Milan Jovanovic and Christian Poulsen.

    The match against Everton wasn't going great either, but the Reds fought back for a 2-2 draw and never really looked back after that; this match against the Tangerines ended up being one of the few low points for the Reds in the second half of the 2010-11 season.

LOW...AND HIGH! Deadline Day Transfers of Fernando Torres, Carroll and Suarez

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    On the final day of the transfer window in January 2011, Liverpool lost their talismanic forward, Fernando Torres, to Chelsea in a £50 million deal—and replaced him with a new record buy, Luis Suarez from Ajax, and then another new record buy, Andy Carroll from Newcastle.

    Much excitement surrounded the arrival of the attacking pair, while animosity, disgust and general disbelief went the way of Torres.

HIGH: United Vanquished, Kuyt Nets a Hattrick and a New Hero Announces Himself

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    Just two months after his first match in charge of Liverpool ended in defeat to Manchester United, Kenny Dalglish got another crack at the same opposition, this time in the Premier League—and this time, he won.

    Dirk Kuyt got all the goals in a 3-1 win which the Reds dominated and were thoroughly deserving winners, but it was the all-round performance of Luis Suarez which really got the fans talking, as he single-handedly ripped United's backline to shreds.

LOW: Tame Europa League Exit to Sporting Braga

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    After a long ole' wait to lead Liverpool in Europe, Kenny Dalglish finally got the chance in February 2011.

    The Reds beat Sparta Prague in the Europa League, 1-0 on aggregate, in Kenny's first tie—but in the next round, they tamely went out to Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga, also 1-0 on aggregate.

    Since Liverpool failed to qualify for Europe again for the 2011-12 season, those four games remain Dalglish's only competitive European action as manager of Liverpool FC.

    His record reads: played four, won one, drew two and lost one, scoring once and conceding once.

HIGH: Liverpool Batter Manchester City at Anfield

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    Andy Carroll opened his Liverpool goalscoring account at Anfield with a two-goal display against Manchester City, as the Reds swatted aside the free-spending Champions League-chasing side with a first rate footballing performance.

    It was arguably the finest display of the season from Liverpool, who were almost making a late charge of their own for a top-four spot—but ultimately, it was just too far a gap to bridge.

    The season ended on a sour note, as they lost the final two games of the season, against Spurs and Aston Villa, to finish sixth in the Premier League.

LOW: Indifferent Start to the Season Compounded by Heavy Defeat at Spurs

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    Hopes were high heading into the 2011-12 season after Liverpool had spent heavily, recruiting the likes of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique to complement the two forwards signed the previous winter.

    The campaign didn't start exactly on fire, though, as Sunderland held Liverpool to a draw at Anfield before the Reds won away at Arsenal and home to Bolton.

    Those seven points from three games soon turned to seven from five, as Stoke won 1-0 thanks to a dodgy penalty—and Spurs gave Liverpool a real hiding, beating them 4-0 at White Hart Lane as the Reds saw two red cards brandished their way, for Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel.

HIGH: Derby Delight for the Two Record-Signing Strikers

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    Liverpool got their season back on track in the Premier League as they beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park, partly erasing memories of their "best display yet" under Roy Hodgson of the previous season.

    Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez were the scorers, giving themselves and the team valuable breathing space, as questions were already starting to be asked about the lack of goals within the side.

LOW: Home Draw, Away Draw, Home Draw, Away Draw

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    Goals were becoming a real issue for Liverpool by Christmas, as were missed penalties.

    The Reds demonstrated both in one game as they drew 0-0 with Wigan Athletic, languishing at the bottom of the table at the time, while Charlie Adam missed a penalty—one of seven that the Reds missed during the campaign altogether.

    They followed up this match with a Boxing Day clash against Blackburn at Anfield, also at the bottom of the table, and also drew this game. 1-1 was the score there.

    Nine home draws for the entire campaign tells its own story of Liverpool's downfall.

HIGH: Cup Progress at the Expense of Manchester in General!

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    Liverpool picked up two wins against sides from Manchester in two different cups within the space of three days in January, as the domestic cup competitions continued to provide major relief for the Reds and Kenny Dalglish.

    First up was a League Cup semifinal second leg against Manchester City, which finished 2-2, sending Liverpool through to the final on aggregate.

    Next came a visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round, and Liverpool sent them packing with a 2-1 victory courtesy of a late Dirk Kuyt strike.

The HIGHEST HIGH: Carling Cup Triumph, Kenny Brings Silverware Back to Liverpool

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    In what will undoubtedly go down as his most impressive and successful moment of his second spell in charge of Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish led the Reds to cup final glory as Liverpool held their nerve to beat Cardiff City on penalties in the Carling Cup final at Wembley.

    After Cardiff had taken the lead, Liverpool equalised through Martin Skrtel before Dirk Kuyt thought he'd scored the winning goal—only for a late leveler to force spot kicks, which the Reds won.

LOW: Dreadful Run of Five Defeats in Six Games Kills Champions League Hopes

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    The Carling Cup win was meant to springboard Liverpool to success over the rest of the season.

    Instead, it marked the beginning of the end, as the Reds embarked on a terrible run of form in the Premier League, losing five of their next six league fixtures, with only a Merseyside derby win, featuring a Steven Gerrard hat trick, to break it up.

    After Arsenal somehow sneaked an Anfield victory 2-1 after being thoroughly outplayed, a dejected Liverpool side were rotten against Sunderland, losing 1-0.

    Gerrard inspired the Reds to bounce back against Everton, before Stoke were dispatched in the FA Cup, 2-1.

    Everything rosy again, right?


    A complete meltdown in the final 15 minutes saw Liverpool throw away a 2-0 lead over QPR to lose 3-2, Wigan then beat the Reds, 2-1, and finally, Newcastle saw off any lingering hopes of reaching the top four that they might have harboured by deservedly winning 2-0 at St. James' Park.

HIGH: Another Wembley Win as Everton Are Dispatched for the Third Time

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    Liverpool ensured David Moyes made it 10 years in charge of Everton without a trophy to his name as they beat their rivals, for the third time this season, 2-1 in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley.

    The Blues had taken the lead, but a defensive mistake let in Luis Suarez to score the equaliser—and with five minutes left on the clock, Andy Carroll scored the winning goal.

    Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish were off to their second cup final of the season; Everton were off to home.

LOW: FA Cup Final Defeat to Chelsea Despite Second Half Rally

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    Liverpool just didn't turn up to the FA Cup final until it was too late.

    By the time Andy Carroll scored for the Reds and turned the final on its head, almost netting an equaliser in the process, Chelsea were already two goals ahead, and the Reds had left themselves too much to do.

    Their form coming into the final was patchy, two defeats and one win since the semifinal win, and they couldn't simply turn it on against a good Chelsea side who had just reached the Champions League final.

    This day may go down for Kenny Dalglish as one of the biggest disappointments of his time at Liverpool—if, at the end of the season, they had won two cups out of the three competitions they competed in, perhaps there would have been more of a case to back him.

    As it was, the Reds lost, and the Carling Cup win remained the only real, tangible positive from the season.

The Final HIGH: Revenge on Chelsea as Anfield Rocks to a 4-1 Win

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    It's hard to know what Liverpool supporters enjoyed more on the final Premier League game of the season at Anfield: the sight of the Reds knocking four past Chelsea or the sight of John Terry on his arse for most of the first half.

    Three mistakes, three goals, three nutmegs—oh, and the Reds missed another penalty, obviously.

    It turned out to be Kenny Dalglish's last game at Anfield, and it was a good one, Liverpool beating Chelsea by 4-1 just days after the same side had beaten the Reds in the FA Cup final.

The LOWEST LOW: Final Match Defeat to Sum Up Season, and Kenny Dalglish Sacked

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    Liverpool ended the campaign with a late defeat to Swansea City, in a match which showcased much of their failings this season—namely, not being good enough in the final third, not having enough match-winners and not being able to score enough goals.

    Ultimately, the eighth-placed finish it left Liverpool in was not enough for the club's owners, who elected to sack Kenny Dalglish shortly after the season finished.

    The Reds owners must choose extremely carefully who they pick to replace Dalglish now, and then just him get on with the job.

    For Dalglish, though, it is an unfulfilling and disappointing end to a second spell in charge of Liverpool FC.