Liverpool 2.0 – Return of the King (Kenny)

12/01/2011 § Leave a comment

Now as an MBA student, I sure know a handful of adjective-heavy definitions of a manager, what with those terrifyingly prosaic books they make us read. Now I may be toeing the party line here with my refusal to stick to the clinical hatred of the Mancs, but if one were to ever effectively encapsulate the perfect qualities of a manager in the footballing context, one need not look further than the direction of the hated ruminative Scot who has almost, ALMOST knocked us off our effing perch as promised. Sir Alex Ferguson, with all his damned Manchester United associations and present possessor of the favourite ass of all the referees, is by far the best manager in the Premier League. And analysing the personality of Sir Alex, one can come to the conclusion that a good manager needs not only a sound footballing philosophy but also the sort of Jekyll and Hyde persona that makes celebrated superstars shiver like the dickens in his stately presence.

But this article is not simply meant to be a bittersweet account of my feelings for Sir Alex. It is also the guideline which our new coach Kenny Dalglish needs to follow, if he harbours any hope of taking Liverpool into the next season with the beautiful visage of his achievements from being besmirched.

Now one may argue that Kenny Dalglish has been away from the management game for too long but in my opinion all that jazz about football having changed since he left is all squat. When Kenny left, Manchester United played the 4-4-2 and won trophies. The statement still stands true on both counts. Because lets face it, international football players don’t need to be taught how to kick a ball in the correct direction. They need someone who is more a mentor, a troubleshooting mechanism more than anything else.

Now there are several advantages of being Kenny Dalglish on the Merseyside. First of all, your status is so damn iconic that there is simply no player, member of coaching staff, or even a director who is bigger than you. Because on the Merseyside, when King Kenny says jump, you sure as hell better be jumping because if you don’t there are a million of his subjects around that would gladly push you off the ledge. A point in case is Roy Hodgson – who despite certain passable credentials could simply not assert himself on the club, what with Kenny’s larger than life shadow in his wake. Hodgson, who seemed to have scored a win in the summer, bagging the job over the Liverpool icon, didn’t last too long. A certain Kenny Dalglish still held sway.

So there is no doubt that when Kenny walks in the dressing room, heads will start falling if he wills it. And hence, people would do damn well to respect him. Because, in the red half of Liverpool, there isn’t any man bigger than him – not Steven Gerrard, not even the man who was the best striker in the world two seasons ago. And what with him being so darn iconic, he will inspire fear in the minds of player who refuse to work in his style of play. Much like Sir Alex Ferguson has done so over the two decades he was in charge of Manchester United.

Then again, Kenny Dalglish doesn’t come across as particularly evil sort of dictatorial menace that would drive people out. He seems like a kindly father figure and his role as the ambassador for the club and the mentor to the Academy point out to a side of Kenny Dalglish which is positively nurturing. Having worked with them, Kenny also knows the youngsters in the academy and will definitely give them a fighting chance of usurping the first team spots of the present underperforming oafs in the squad. I mean, if Hodgson did it, he’d be a bloody idiot, but how many people will really doubt the good sense in giving a chance to Martin Kelly over Glen Johnson? I sure wouldn’t. But Kenny what with the goodwill earned over the 80s in the Merseyside will be able to make tough calls and draft into the squad the youth players who really have earned their spurs.

Of course, that is not to say that the Liverpool fans can expect a bed of roses when the King is in charge. There are very clear disadvantages of having a manager who’s been out of the game for a while. For starters, he’s not exactly the most preferred manager when you compare him to say Sir Alex or Arsene Wenger or Carlo Ancelotti. The bigger players would still be wary of joining a club, much in transition that too with a manager who outside of Liverpool is no more than a cult figure. So clearly Kenny Dalglish is no poster boy in the game of football management as perhaps Didier Deschamps might have been. So the only players that would be willing to join Kenny are more or less untested youngsters.

But then again, it is his job to extract the best out of the players under him the way that Roy Hodgson and Rafael Benitez before him simply could not. There are so many examples in the Premier League where good managers have extracted better than average teams from less than average players. Harry Redknapp is a shining example of the same and the achievements of Tony Pulis, Steve Bruce and Alex McLeish are nothing to be laughed at either.

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