when the king of the kop rode back into liverpool on what i’m guessing was a red stallion, he was literally hailed as the knight in shining armor here to save the day of the liverpool faithful. he was the only man who could save the club from its impending doom. it all felt like i was watching a sunday showing of the matrix on FX, with everyone obsessing over “the one.”
despite all of the hype that surrounded kenny dalglish’s return to anfield to take the role of “caretaker manager,” at the time i just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. i openly questioned the impact this new manager could possibly have at the helm.
the liverpool ship was sinking fast, and not even talented managers such as the fat spanish waiter or the hodge could prevent the ship from taking on more water. their two star players (torres and gerrard) looked so lethargic and uninterested that it’s widely been suspected that lucas leiva — LUCAS! — has been the side’s best player over the last 12 months.
also consider that dalglish hadn’t managed a premier league side since 1998, and his last coaching gig was back in 2000 when he was the caretaker at celtic. his last job in england was with newcastle, and his 18 months in charge of the magpies resulted in a winning percentage of just 38%. since these aren’t exactly statistics that scream “excellent managerial choice” to me, you could understand my suspicion of this king kenny.
of course, you do have to throw in that i’m not exactly old enough to remember any of the impact that kenny has ever had at liverpool. when i first started following english football, i hardly knew who sir alex ferguson was let alone who the manager was at blackburn. even by the mid noughties i knew that he was a legendary player and manager for the reds, but little else beyond that. it would also be fair to say that i was unaware that he is a demigod, or that he can part the english channel with his mind.
and when things started slowly for the scot in his second stint in charge at anfield, i felt justified in my thoughts. see, not even the supposed savior can turn this thing around on mereyside. and when the club (dalglish maybe?) inexplicably decided it was time to sell off their best striker, i assumed that the club was about to implode.
how things can change so quickly.
with 13 points out of a possible 15 in his last five games, it’s safe to say that liverpool do appear to have a chosen one. when owner john w. henry is heaping praise, you know it, you feel it… the tide seems to have turned.
i don’t know what it is about the guy, but dalglish has completely galvanized the side. in the win against chelsea, lucas pulled the strings as meireles — not gerrard — made dangerous, darting runs into the box. even though gerrard wasn’t at his best on sunday, he’s definitely looked more at ease under kenny’s rule than he did roy’s. the defense looks much more organized and cohesive, not to mention crunching (agger’s crushing f***-you-and-good-riddance tackle on torres in the opening minutes of the game being my favorite). for the first time all season, this club is on a streak of positive results and are playing as a unit.
none of these things were happening under hodgson.
just imagine what a fully fit suarez and carroll could bring to this newly energized team! i mean, kenny had to have been comfortable with the idea of letting torres go and getting those two in return. i don’t care how much moneyball the new ownership were playing in the transfer market, you’re going to have a hard time telling me that andy carroll wasn’t a dalglish pick… he reaks of the scot’s choice. brute power waiting to be honed and tamed; just as dalglish has done with the club’s talent as a whole.
and suarez will likely be zooming around like a reckless michael owen, poaching goals and biting opposing players. while the uruguayan’s stats support the ownership’s moneyball theory of purchasing players, his attitude and work ethic also ooze of classic liverpool and dalglish’s influence.
so, mr. dalglish, i apologize for doubting you. i don’t know how you have done it, but somehow you have. maybe you do have some magical plan after all. it’s been a thrill to watch, and i’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out.
just don’t go climbing your boys any higher than spurs, ok?