Why EPL and Liverpool need Kenny Dalgish
Liverpool have signed Kenny Dalgish to a three-year contract, making his caretaker role a permanent one. Dalglish’s return to the managerial fold has coincided with a Liverpool resurgence, and because of it, English football has never been better.
A proud Scot making the English better?
Sounds like something out of a fantasy novel to me. But no, it is true, and Reds fans, along with all other supporters of the English Premier League, should be rejoicing.
From a Liverpool perspective, Dalglish’s appointment could not have come at a better time.
The greatest team in English football history were in a terrible state six months ago, struggling with owners that didn’t care about the club’s proud on and off-field heritage, and a manager that looked out of his depth and didn’t have the full support of the playing staff.
12 months ago they weren’t much better, missing out on a prized Champions League spot and relying almost wholly on their two superstars, the inspirational Scouser hero Steven Gerrard and the grumpy-yet-brilliant Spaniard Fernando Torres.
The loss of two of their truly world-class players, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, did nothing to help the patience of those living on the red side of the Mersey who have now gone over two decades without a league title.
Enter Kenny (along with some new owners), Liverpool hero, Kop favourite, and one of the greatest footballers to come out of Britain.
If anyone was going to bring together a club that was falling apart it is Dalglish, a hard task but one made easier by having the continuous support of the fans and the respect of the players.
Immediately Liverpool’s on-field performances started to improve despite their tactics staying the same. They’re still playing a possession game; starting from the last line they build the play and involve all players including goalkeeper Pepe Reina. If this doesn’t result a an attacking move or shot they will play the ball back to their defence, reform their shape and start again.
So what has changed?
Dalglish has reinstalled belief in the players, given them confidence. They want to play for him. Gone was the misfiring Torres, replaced by the hard-working Luis Suarez and the next England superstar Andy Carroll, immediately reinvigorating their attack by not relying on the one-striker system employed under Rafa Benitez and Roy Hodgson.
Players like Dirk Kuyt, Raul Meireles, Lucas Leiva and Maxi Rodriguez have found an extra leg, confident in their abilities to beat a man one-on-one and carve up previously machine-like defences of the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea with crisp passing moves (I’ll admit they did get lucky in their draw against Arsenal).
Fabio Capello should also be thanking Dalglish.
His mantra when he returned to Liverpool was to rely on British players and stop the dominance of the foreign legion possessed by the clubs above them on the table. He’s stuck true to his word, and has brought on the next generation of England internationals.
Whether through injury or poor performance of established players, the likes of John Flanagan, Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Robinson have all played above the level many fans thought they were capable of, and none of these three have even reached their 20th birthday!
Jay Spearing has gone on to establish himself in the centre of midfield, ensuring players with international experience like Joe Cole and Christian Poulsen are stuck on the bench.
One would think only the return of Gerrard will keep Spearing out of a first-choice Liverpool side.
So a good Liverpool side is important to English football. Next season they will prove a genuine title contender, joining the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham and I’ll bet many Spaniards, Italians and Germans are all wishing they had this many clubs that could compete for title honours year-in year-out.
And we must thank the return of the greatest Red of them all for this happy return to dominance, because without his influence, who knows how many titles those Red Devils will win.