This is my first post with Kenny Dalglish as a tag. This is also my first time referring to him as King Kenny.
It’s likely to be my last time for both.
As a child of the Steven Gerrard era, I will forever carry with me the notion that Steven Gerrard is the greatest player ever to have played for Liverpool. In that sense, perhaps I am cursed with not ever getting a chance to see Kenny Dalglish in his pomp.
I’ve read endless stories, from both online articles and on the Liverpool boards themselves, about Dalglish’s near-superhuman feats. About how his skills as a striker were second to none. About how he seamlessly took up the managerial reins way back in the late 1980s to oversee a smooth transition. About how Liverpool suddenly found themselves in disarray after he left.
As one of the most successful clubs in history, Liverpool rightly have a fascination and obsession with the past.
Kenny Dalglish came from that past. And what a glorious past it was.
The fairytale ending to the Return of the King would be that the club legend, parachuted from the past into the current hot-seat, would bring about such a change in fortunes that he would be in charge of Liverpool’s return to their glory years. That, having saved the Titanic from sinking, he would restabilize it so perfectly that it would have the momentum to charge on forever.
That was the dream. Of both Kenny Dalglish and the fans that grew up in his time, who learned to idolize Liverpool’s most famous #7.
And so, for merely having the conviction, the passion and the commitment to even contemplate stepping into the breach and steadying the sinking ship at Anfield, Kenny Dalglish must be commended.
The way that he has conducted his exit from the club has been in all the right ways that should have become a hallmark of his second reign, the class, the dignity and the manners. Looking back at the pictures of a fiendishly grinning Dalglish in celebration of a Liverpool goal, and reading Alan Hansen’s sharing of Dalglish’s love for Liverpool, makes one’s heart sink with heaviness.
Why must a club legend, so revered and adored by all Liverpudlians, make way? It just doesn’t seem right.
But therein lies the unfortunate advantages of being a child of the modern era.
The fact that I don’t have a sentimental bond with Kenny Dalglish, with his achievements as a player and then as a manager for Liverpool, gives me an almost alien sense of neutrality when it comes to Dalglish the Liverpool manager of 2011.
Because I’ve always judged him for what he’s supposed to do, and that is manage and bring the best out of Liverpool.
In that respect, Dalglish has sadly not delivered.
The context will always be important when looking back at this particular case, because he was never FSG’s first choice as manager. In fact, judging from their delays in making the announcement of his permanent deal last year, FSG might never have wanted him in more than a caretaker role, to stabilize the club and get everyone on the same side.
But when you have fans calling for his permanent employment in every game and through every possible venue, your ambitions of finding someone you really see fit will have to make way for just the time being.
That Dalglish has stayed in the Anfield hotseat for so long is a testament to his stature and iconic status at Liverpool. It wouldn’t be any exaggeration to say that sacking any other manager with his record this season would be no surprise.
So perhaps he outlived his stay. Perhaps he was only supposed to come in for those 6 months, reinforce his legendary status in Liverpool eyes by turning around a potentially disastrous season, and step down to oversee a transition to a new era.
Those who have been following my blog will know that I have not been a vocal supporter of Kenny Dalglish over the past few months, there was no schadenfreude on my part when I read about Dalglish’s sacking, just sadness that the fairytale didn’t end up happening.
But for all the doom and gloom that is likely to reverberate around the Red half of Liverpool in the coming few weeks, there is actually a huge potential for excitement underneath all the debris.
Liverpool have managed to secure record-breaking commercial ventures and partnerships despite not having been involved in high-profile European competitions for two seasons. And FSG have shown that they can back a manager with the funds needed to build a squad. The club might lack a central managerial spine right now, but the ingredients are there for the next manager to make a splash.
As for myself, while I’m awaiting FSG’s next move with apprehension, I still dream of a fairytale ending where the future is bright, European and silverware-shiny.
If that does happen, I’m willing to bet that Kenny Dalglish will be looking on with pride.