Sunday, 9 January 2011

He's Not The Messiah

I'll resist the temptation to add the classic Python "but he's a very naughty boy", because, having been one of the greatest players and managers of my forty three years supporting Liverpool, it's difficult to criticise King Kenny Dalglish. Having said that, the moment that Kenny threw his hat into the ring as a potential manager last summer before Christian Purslow threw it back out again and chose the Manager Of The Year instead, the new appointment was going to struggle. Rejecting the people's (and most probably the players') choice meant that, at a club where the fans have become increasingly vocalised (or even politicised), in recent years, Hodgson didn't stand a chance. Had Kenny kept his mouth shut, Roy might have bought himself some time to build a team but instead he suffered the ignominy of chants of Dalglish within a few short months of his appointment.

My Kop season ticket now feels like more of a union membership card and, instead of going to the match to be entertained with some exciting football, we are now, week in week out, encouraged to show our support for Michael Shields, Justice for Hillsborough victims (an admittedly very worthy cause) or to encourage the last owners to "get out of our club". Once renowned for our sporting behaviour and for applauding winning opponents, Liverpool fans were this week heard to chant "you're getting sacked in the morning" to our own manager. Public ridicule of a decent man is not something that I would have ever expected to hear from our fans and, if Kenny had not been there in the background like an albatross on Roy's shoulder, I have to ask if it would have happened.

Far from being Roy's fault, the state that the club currently finds itself in began with the disastrous transfer of Alonso two seasons ago. The Reds had just enjoyed a successful season playing entertaining attacking football and even winning regularly away from home. Everything looked set for a serious assault on the Premiership but Xabi was sold in the summer and the team fell apart. A quiet man on and off the pitch, Alonso's contribution was recognised by the fans but not by the manager who, in selling him, started the rot that has continued to this day. Of the current squad, almost all are Benitez' signings and it is surely he, not Hodgson, who is responsible for where we are now. I'm not saying that Hodgson was a great manager, two of his signings, Paulson and Konchesky have been poor (although Meireles shows potential) but his players never played for him and his treatment by the fans has been despicable.

Now that the fans have what they wanted and Dalglish is in the hot seat, I wish him success but history has shown that fans' saviours don't have a hugely impressive record. Shearer at Newcastle and Maradonna with Argentina arrived in a wave of fan generated euphoria that soon dissipated when the teams failed to perform. The last Messianic second coming on Merseyside was Howard Kendall's return in 1990 to the Everton that he had lead to a league championship and other honours in the 80's. His second spell was one of mediocrity.

Dalglish has the perfect start. Playing away today to Manchester United, if the team loses it will be Roy's fault but if they win or draw it will be proof of Kenny's magic whereas in reality it will be evidence that the players let Hodgson down very badly.