Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is sacking Kenny Dalglish the answer?

Following Liverpool's dismal showing against Newcastle last weekend, many pundits now believe that Kenny Dalglish' second stint at Liverpool is set to expire soon. Some believe it should be done sooner rather than later to salvage something out this season.

Dalglish, for his part, seems unperturbed by the speculation that he'll become the next high profile manager after Andre Villas-Boas to get an early severance check from his employers. But then again, Dalglish seemed unperturbed when his side was falling apart at St James Park last weekend. It's hard to say what's really going on in Dalglish' head.

One thing is for sure, however. Liverpool have lost six out of their last seven games and have only won twice in the league in 2012. That's an abysmal record by anyone's standards and certainly warrants a closer examination on whether Dalglish is the right man to lead Liverpool.

In fact, I've compiled a list of reasons why Dalglish could get the boot:

1. Liverpool have lost six out of their last seven games. When that happens, it's time to push the panic button. And it doesn't matter if you're chasing a Champions League qualification spot or fighting relegation. Losing that many games is a sign that something is seriously wrong with the team. And in most cases, the managers end up being the casualties.

Popular opinion is that managers make easy targets for owners when the going gets tough. But what are the alternatives? You can't fire your players because if you did you would be left with no team. Unlike managers, players can only be traded during transfer windows. Managers on the other hand, can be changed at anytime.

Then there's the fact that changing the manager does work at times. One only has to look at Chelsea's revival under Roberto Di Matteo. And let's not forget that Dalglish himself came in mid last season to replace Roy Hodgson and managed to turn things around with the same group of players that failed miserably under the latter.

2. I don't think anyone disagrees over the fact that a major percentage of the blame for Liverpool's current woes lies with the club's players. But who bought these players? Once again, all roads lead back to Dalglish. Of the GBP100 million spent on new players, only Luis Suarez, Craig Bellamy and Jose Enrique have proved to be good buys. The rest - Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam - have been consistently voted into "worst buys of the season" lists all over the Internet.

3. Team selection. A common complaint leveled at Rafa Benitez during his time with Liverpool was his tendency to constantly rotate the squad which in turn led to inconsistent performances week-in week-out. Dalglish is no different and I can't quite understand why no one has pointed this out. Every week, Liverpool's midfield and forward line changes. Last weekend's pairing of Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing in the centre of midfield is perhaps one of the worst decisions Dalglish has made this season.

4. Goals. At one point this season, Liverpool were known as the club with one of the tightest defenses in the league. Oh, how quickly things change. Since Jan 1, Liverpool have let in 18 goals in 12 games. At the other end, they've only managed to score six goals over the same amount of games. If this doesn't concern Dalglish, nothing will. Not even relegation.

5. Club legend, John Alridge has labelled Liverpool a "laughing stock" and that's something many Liverpool fans can agree on which is not something John Henry and the rest of the gang at New England Sports Ventures want to see. Once the staunch Reds fans start to abandon the team, there's a likelihood viewership will drop.

It will interest you to note that Alridge was signed by Dalglish to Liverpool back in 1987 but the former Irish international has no qualms hitting out at his former boss' side. When your former players start to turn on you, it won't be long before your current players follow suit.

Ok, now that we've gone through why Dalglish could get axed, let's examine why there's still a case for him to stay.

1. If Dalglish goes, who will replace him? There aren't many highly-rated candidates out in the market in the moment with the exception of Fabio Capello or - you guessed it - Rafa Benitez. I don't think Capello is interested in spending more time in England. Benitez on the other hand could very well be an option. The Spaniard is still a favourite among the Anfield faithful and would get along well with several players in the squad. That being said, Benitez would definitely want a long-term project to work on which leads us to the next point.

2. A new manager means a new project which in turn means more money and a three or five-year plan. Ultimately this translates to a longer wait for Liverpool's owners and fans before they will see a title number 19 or a sixth Champions League trophy. For these reasons alone, John Henry could choose to stick it out with Dalglish and pray for divine intervention instead to alter Liverpool's fortunes.

3. Dalglish is still a legend. Rule number one of hiring a legend is that firing him, no matter the circumstances, will be a major PR disaster for Liverpool's American owners with the fans. Yes, sports fans can be incredibly unreasonable. On one hand, they crave success and admonish you when it isn't achieved and when you do the one thing that could help the club, they turn against you. Hey, no one said owning a football club is easy.

4. He's the last guy to have won a league with Liverpool. That's gotta count right?

5. It's not Dalglish' fault. Really. It's those damn players who just can't get it right! I know I went through this in the earlier list but you have to feel for Dalglish. Who would've thought Carroll would be the flop he is? No one believed he was worth the money Liverpool paid but still, three goals a season? And let's face it, Downing can be an outstanding winger when he wants to. Last but not least, what the hell's up with Adam's set pieces? Was Sir Alex Ferguson high when he said Adam's set pieces alone were worth GBP10 million?

Ultimately, there are no easy options at the moment for Henry and New England Sports Ventures. But something needs to be done soon and for Dalglish' sake, he'd better hope his players show up this weekend for Liverpool's home match against Aston Villa. Another defeat and the club's owners may have no choice but to remove him. And that would indeed be a pity to see Dalglish ending his second stint at Liverpool in such an acrimonious manner.

1 comment:

  1. Dalglish will always be King Kenny to Liverpool supporters hearts, therefore firing him may be a big mistake for morale of the club. I honestly think dalglish will "retire" at the end of the season rather then be sacked.If you see over the last season and half he was in charge he brought out the best of the team against the big rivals ie everton, arsenal, MU, Chelsea... so keeping him there for the FA cup will be the smart choice. After that we need a good coach someone like arsene wenger to come in a rebuild the team and change the way we play football.

    However if we win the FA cup, having won 2 cups in terms of achievements is a good season for liverpool. How can we fire a coach that delivers 2 titles in a season, do we give him another chance?

    Final conclusion is. End season ask dalglish to retire if he fails to lift the FA cup. If he does, give him a "Advisory role" to keep morale. New Manager is a must...