Monday, 9 January 2012

One Year On....And Is King Kenny Helping Or Harming Liverpool?




For a man who was whisked off a cruise taken to see the world, Kenny Dalglish is struggling to see past the end of his nose these days.

The Liverpool boss celebrates a year in charge at Anfield today and despite his messiah like status, it has been a unedifying twelve months.

A club he frequently points out is proud of its tradition is fighting to save its reputation as one of the bastions of the world game.

And Dalglish has been a key player in the recent events that have left right-minded football fans swapping their grudging respect for a stomach churning sense of revulsion.

His refusal to look beyond the self-serving justification of the tight knit Scouse community has played out badly on the bigger stage.

It was never meant to be like this. The Scot was hooked off a cruise ship and hailed as a white knight riding to rescue a club in turmoil as it recovered from the bitter infighting of the dark days under Messers Gillett and Hicks.

Roy Hodgson had proved incapable of coping with the problem of marrying the club's history with the reality of its financially deprived situation.

New owners brought in a new broom and Hodgson was swept down the M6 to West Brom to allow Dalglish to take over.

As far as the Kop was concerned, their troubles were over. With Dalglish finally installed the good times were sure to come flooding back.

Liverpool were 12th at time having shamefully dropped into the relegation zone during the early part of the campaign.

It was going to be hard for Dalglish to do much worse. The big question, a year on, is has he done much better.

Results have certainly picked up. To save you checking, the Reds are up to sixth. Three points behind fourth placed Chelsea and correctly believing a return to Champions League football is on the cards.

But the league table tells only half the story. Dalglish has taken a route trumpeted by his rival Sir Alex Ferguson to stir up a bunker mentality.

Anyone asking a sane, rational question of the club is instantly painted as an enemy. It's a strategy that plays well at home but opens Liverpool up to ridicule away from fortress Anfield.

And there are a lot of questions to be asked. Before we even get on to Luis Suarez, let's take a look at the way Andy Carroll's situation has been handled.

The big striker was grabbed in a panic for a ridiculous price tag of £35m as Liverpool attempted to appease fans following the sale of Fernando Torres.

Having managed half a season of decent form in the top flight in black and white, the Liverpool talent pickers took it as red he would succeed at Anfield.

Injured, still struggling to control his refuelling habits and bewildered at being whisked out of Newcastle by a club unable to believe their luck at the money on offer, Carroll struggled.

We could see it, the television cameras were showing evidence of it and even true Reds acknowledged it.

Not Dalglish. He launched attacks on those questioning Carroll on the one hand whilst urging his own fans to take him under their wing.

Thirty games and five goals later, I still don't see a £35m striker. In fact, and whisper this quietly in Dalglish's presence, the man who replaced him on a free at Newcastle, Demba Ba, looks a more dangerous prospect.

A refusal to accept an erroneous path was taken on Carroll is one thing, but the defence of Suarez in an indefensible situation is Dalglish's biggest mistake.

He claims there are issues the club are unable to raise. Why? If they are part of the debate, bring them up. If they are part of your defence, it would be wrong not to use mention them.

Nothing could be worse than those t-shirts that insulted anyone who believes in stamping out racism or the crass use of Liverpool's motto of ``never walking alone'' as a clarion call for fans to get behind the guilty man.

Dalglish has sadly back himself into a corner and muddied the reputation of the club in doing so.

A reputation further besmirched by Oldham's Tom Adeyemi being racially abused by a Liverpool fan on Friday night.

It is impossible to link the alleged attack with the defence of Suarez, but coming so soon after the striker was banned for eight games it does not look clever.

Add to that the trouble Stewart Downing has found himself in with the police having rowed with his ex-missus. Dalglish must be hoping the old adage that things come in threes actually runs true.

So a year on and the football is better. Results have picked up. The future certainly looks brighter on the pitch but the turnaround in Liverpool's fortunes have come at a cost.

I hope it is one Dalglish is happy to pay for success.

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