Liverpool: Is the Honeymoon Period over for King Kenny?
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Visibly tetchy and short-tempered following his Liverpool side’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Tottenham, it seems Kenny Dalglish has now resumed the persona he carried during his first tenure at the Reds.
Dalglish ruled Liverpool with an iron fist when in charge of the Merseyside club first time round. And it undoubtedly worked.
After taking over the role of legendary Liverpool manager Bob Paisley in 1985, the ‘King Kenny’ reign of old led Liverpool to win the 1985/86, 1987/88 and 1989/90 titles. They were runners-up in 1986/87 and 1988/89, winners of the 1986 and 1989 FA Cups with his team.
This success emanated during his first management role at any football club.
The Kenny Dalglish of old is a far cry from the smiling, happy and jovial Dalglish you see today freely giving interviews to the press at consummate ease. Think of Dalglish as a younger version of Sir Alex Ferguson during his 1980s leadership of Liverpool.
However, it seems that the feel-good bubble Dalglish helped form over Anfield is starting to burst.
Dalglish took over from the hapless Roy Hodgson last January, and led Liverpool to a respectable league position, even taking Tottenham to the wire in a last-ditch attempt to crash the Europa League.
After a positive start to the 2011/12 Premier League campaign, including a 2-0 away win at Arsenal and the 3-1 decimation of Bolton, the Liverpool boss seemed to unravel and return to his old ways following his side’s unlucky 1-0 loss to Stoke City.
King Kenny told of his anger to the press about what he perceived as Liverpool being the victims of a series of contentious decisions from English referees.
Experienced referee Mark Clattenburg drew the ire of the hot-tempered Glaswegian after awarding Stoke a penalty. John Walters converted, consequently winning Stoke the match and denying Liverpool a seemingly stonewall penalty after Stoke defender Matthew Upson blocked a Luis Suarez shot with his arm.
Trying to avoid venting too much of his fury to the ever-conniving and word-twisting British press, Dalglish said after the game: “We would like to be respectful to the referees...but more importantly is them having respect for my club,” referring to the extensive referee ‘Respect’ campaign championed by the English Football Association.
With two red cards hampering his side in their 4-0 hammering at White Hart Lane, you would think that Dalglish would have had more words to say about the officiating of the Premier League.
However, it was his team that incurred the wrath of a fervent Dalglish following his team’s demolition at the hands of Spurs.
Addressing the press after Liverpool’s humiliating defeat, he said: “This football club expects more than that. Luka Modric scores a great goal and it was the start of our downfall.”
The truth is, this much-vaunted Liverpool side looked badly prepared for their Tottenham showdown.
The loss of Jamie Carragher to suspension would have unsettled the team’s defensive balance, but Martin Skrtl at right-back seemed incapable and well out of his depth handling the flying Welsh wing-wizard, Gareth Bale.
It was Bale’s blitzing runs that led to Skrtl being the second Reds player to be dismissed from the pitch, following Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam’s early sending-off.
Without European football acting as a distraction to Liverpool this season, this is a year where the Reds should really press on and try and regain their top-four berth. With Arsenal struggling and Tottenham inconsistent, this is a better time than ever before.
You would think with a reported £138million worth of investment since Dalglish regained managerial control last January, it would not be wrong to assume that Liverpool would have adequate cover at the back, not having to play a centre-half out of position.
No matter how well Liverpool play, people will always expect them to do so with the expensive £20million-and-above of the likes of Andy Carroll, Suarez, Jordan Henderson and Stuart Downing.
The above signings are almost a burden to Liverpool now. Liverpool are in a transitional, re-building stage, but with such expensive signings and early season promise, it’s easy to see why both the fans and the manager get frustrated when things are not going their way.
Obviously, there was money to be spent and roles to be filled, after Fernando Torres' £50million move to Chelsea, but some of the signings, and the amount of money spent, have been questioned by some corners of the Kop.
Dalglish has experience in having a lot of money at his disposal. He led minnows Blackburn Rovers to the 1994/1995 Premier League title, breaking British transfer records signing the likes of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton.
Times have obviously changed since then, and Dalglish’s signing of Shearer’s fellow Geordie, Andy Carroll, for a reported £35million, has been heavily criticised by fans and critics alike.
No one doubts Carroll’s potential, but spending £35million on potential alone is a big gamble, as is splashing the £20million required for Jordan Henderson’s signature. The pressure on Henderson to stand in for Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, while he battles injury, must be crushing.
Obviously, there was money to be spent and roles to be filled, after Fernando Torres' £50million move to Chelsea,
Liverpool fans are among some of the most loyal in all of football. They acted uncharacteristically in trying to oust poor Roy Hodgson of his managerial post.
It’s hard to see Liverpool fans ever doubting Dalglish’s managerial abilities, given his history and the drive he instilled within his team after taking over the reins once again.
But now you do get the sense that Dalglish knows it’s no longer time for niceties. It’s now time to get serious and deliver Liverpool fans the glory they have long yearned for.
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