Liverpool’s dismal defeat to Newcastle United is the clearest and most obvious sign that Roy Hodgson is not up to the task of managing Liverpool FC. His previous 3-0 win over a mediocre Aston Villa side didn’t inspire any confidence from the majority of Liverpool supporters.
We already know that for every forward step Hodgson takes, he takes another three backward. The victory that was meant to push the team on to future success against Chelsea ultimately led to two shocking Premier League results to follow in a 1-1 draw to Wigan and an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to Stoke City. Roy’s men slaughtered the inept West Ham, but again showed that they can’t handle a strong side like Tottenham, losing 2-1. It seems that without the inspirational Steven Gerrard, the Reds can only muster victories against clubs that are “ripe for the picking” like West Ham and Aston Villa.
Newcastle United should have been outclassed by a Liverpool side that included top-class internationals such as Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina, Raul Meireles and Dirk Kuyt. Going into the match, the Magpies had just went through the chaotic mess that was hated owner Mike Ashley sacking the popular Chris Hughton. Reports said that the Newcastle squad as a whole felt very let down by the decision and were not impressed by the hiring of Alan Pardew. You’d imagine that as Liverpool previously dismantled stronger opposition in Aston Villa, the Reds would easily trounce a Newcastle team without any sort of direction.
Of course with Roy at the helm, no assured victory can be guaranteed. This is the man who continues to stubbornly persist with Paul Konchesky at left-back despite his numerous lapses per match and lowers the confidence and trust of his players by publicly criticizing his own players in Glen Johnson and Joe Cole, the latter being his marquee summer signing whom he pinned the hopes of a top four finish upon.
Speaking of Joe Cole….why wasn’t he brought on in the second half against Newcastle? With Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt on the wings, it’s obvious that neither are going to add much width. Why not throw Jovanovic on earlier and introduce Cole to try to go for the kill while Newcastle were struggling for a period to get the ball out of their own end?
At Fulham, Hodgson was praised for his team's ability to play disciplined, organized football. That may work if your aim is mid-table status but Liverpool are obviously a club with greater ambitions. Throughout his short few months in charge at Anfield, Roy has been short of the mark of excellence that is needed to manage one of the most prestigious institutions in world football.
My answer is of course Kenny Dalglish if you’ve paid attention to some of my past articles from the LFCNY blog. You could quickly point to Newcastle United as an example of how bringing back a “retread manager” in Kevin Keegan doesn’t work, but anything involving Mike Ashley was sure to end in tears. Liverpool thankfully are long past the disharmonious times of Tom Hicks & George Gillett. With John W. Henry and Tom Werner in place, Liverpool have as stable an ownership group as one could find.
I’m not putting King Kenny’s name forward based solely upon nostalgia but rather the feeling that he is a man who has a lot of fire left in him and deserves to once again sit at his rightful throne as Liverpool manager. If not for the emotional overload following the Hillsborough disaster that led to his resignation, one could argue that Dalglish could have kept the Reds at the pinnacle of European football and matched what Sir Alex Ferguson achieved over the years at Manchester United.
Dalglish proved he could even build a club from the ground up when he took over Blackburn Rovers in 1991. A year after the club had finished 19th in the old second division, Kenny and co. led them into the top flight of English football for the first time since 1966. Backed by the signing of goal-poacher Alan Shearer, Dalglish was able to finish Premier League runner up in 1993-94 before capturing the title the following season.
During manager Gerard Houllier’s absence from the Liverpool due to an emergency heart operation in the winter of 2001, there was talk that Dalglish would be installed as temporary manager, but that never came to fruition. Both current club icons Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher admitted that they were excited by the prospect of Dalglish making a brief return as Reds boss in their autobiographies written years later.
It’s hard to pick too many men that are more respected in football circles than Dalglish who would immediately command respect and trust in the modern day Liverpool dressing room. Carragher and Gerrard would run through a brick wall for Kenny as they idolize the man and wouldn’t ever question any of his methods due to his track record. As hot properties Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina continue to be linked with moves away from Anfield, Dalglish would quickly calm their fears. Both Spanish stars are historians of the game and would give Kenny the commitment that they will stay for years to come despite some of Europe’s biggest clubs chasing their signatures.
After Hodgson’s appointment, Dalglish admitted that he wanted another crack at managing the Reds. Some say that he’s been away from the game for too long but Kenny is a sharp character who continues to stay close to the pulse of world football. Personally, I’d love to see what he could do with a proper transfer budget handed to him by Henry and NESV. I’m sure that he’s imagined in his private moments what he would do if given a bit of cash to splash about in the transfer market.
If Hodgson is given time to stay on as Liverpool manger, the supporters will continue to question his every move. He was never near the top of their list of managerial candidates from the start, as a majority begged for Dalglish’s return. If Kenny was actually given the job, supporters wouldn’t question a bad result or a signing getting off to a difficult start. The most important thing that he would bring would be trust, understanding of Liverpool’s unique set of supporters and a presence back to the Anfield dugout.
It’s time that Henry listens to his club’s supporters, whose voices will continue grow stronger both in support of Dalglish and for the removal of Hodgson. It’s time for the return of the King.