16 May 2012

Dalglish Out!

I honestly don't know this club anymore. I'd better get used to that fact.

Look, we're all aware this season's results were horrendous. The denizens of the Andromeda Galaxy are aware of that. The fact remains it was one season, the season after Hicks and Gillett nearly destroyed the club and Hodgson helped dig the hole deeper.

Liverpool is not – well, was not – a club that changes managers by the minute. Especially not when the manager is the best player in club history and the last manager to deliver the league title. Hodgson was and remains a special case, for the dire football, brainless remarks, and complete lack of understanding of the club. Dalglish committed none of those sins. But this is increasingly a results-oriented business, with emphasis on the word business. Welcome to 21st-century sport.

Right now, I don't really care about how much Dalglish got to spend, whether gross or net. I don't care who was a Comolli signing and who was a Dalglish signing. FSG gave the club's greatest servant one year to rebuild from ground zero and then sacked him when the team failed to achieve the desired results immediately. I truly despair for the future.

This renders my mostly-written season review moot, but I guess I'll touch upon some of the "highlights" here. For all the bad we saw – and there was an incredible amount of bad – there were positives and are excuses. A trophy, any trophy. The emergence of a top shelf first-choice back four. Much better football, if not results, than we've seen for the majority of the previous two seasons. Liverpool's failure to win close games mostly thanks to an incredulous inability to score goals, finding it easier to hit the woodwork. Liverpool's most important player tearing his ACL in November, Liverpool's best player suspended for nine matches during the heart of the season, Liverpool's aging talisman struggling with injuries for the duration of the campaign.

Admittedly, by the end of the season, I was eminently frustrated by many things about the team and manager, most notably a lack of a cohesive tactical or transfer strategy to go along with questionable personnel decisions throughout the campaign. There were some positive signs and good matches, but Liverpool rarely looked like they knew what they were doing on and off the pitch. That is a very bad thing. I'm still not sure if it's a sackable offense given the above excuses, what (little) Liverpool had accomplished in the two previous seasons, and who said manager is was.

Now, a new manager will start all over, wanting to spend a similar amount to that spent last summer to forge "his team." Liverpool will again (still) need to settle on a preferred plan, preferred formation, and preferred tactics – things which eluded the side for nearly an entire season. There is currently no Director of Football, no Head of Communications, no new stadium, and now, no manager.

Despite the horrific results, there was a foundation in place and good football played on occasion. Now, Liverpool are back to ground zero. And that ground zero is further and further behind the league's front-runners. City will be undoubtedly bolstered by their title victory; the first is always the hardest, and it's always easier to attract players to a winning project, especially with gobs of money. Manchester United is still Manchester United. Odds are that Chelsea again fails to secure Roman's much-desired Champions League (please!), which will give them further impetus to throw unlimited rubles at rebuilding an aging squad. Arsenal and probably Tottenham will have Champions League football and Champions League money to entice players.

This was always the danger of appointing Dalglish. He was not FSG's first choice, and only Hodgson's complete inability to do anything right forced their hand. It was always going to be harder to sack Dalglish if something went wrong, and yes, things went wrong. Still, most managers deserve better, deserve more time, and this man deserves much, much better.

I thought he merited another season if not for the few positives signs than because of who he is and what he's done for the club over the last four decades.

It goes without saying that FSG had better have a plan. And that plan had better work, and soon. This sets a very unwanted precedent. If Dalglish is sacked after one bad season, the next man will get even less time and far less patience.


Mike Georger said...

Devil's advocate.

Lack of brainless comments? I think a whole lot of people who disagree with you on that given the handling of the Suarez affair, which of course doesn't just fall to Kenny but he was a rather large part of that.

Lack of dire football? Carragher's continued inclusion and an inability to utilize Carroll properly until it literally did not matter anymore would beg to differ. The complete failure to coach this team into defending a goddamn set piece, to me, negates all defensive achievements made this season (which I think are WAY overblown in general).

"Despite the horrific results, there was a foundation in place and good football played on occasion. Now, Liverpool are back to ground zero."

This however is what I disagree with the most. I don't think this sets them back to ground zero at all. One could look at Roberto Martinez as an example. Rogers is an exciting manager blahblahblah but so much of Swansea's success was set up by Martinez's run there before moving to Wigan.

Or Claudio Ranieri. Does Jose ever have the success he had at Chelsea without purchases like Lampard, Cole, and Makelele, or without Terry being blooded into the side by Raineri? Absolutely not.

I don't think removing the staff will fuck things up in terms of players going forward. The new manager must be given money, and must be made able to make his own stamp on the team. Like oh I don't know maybe shuffling off Carragher and rightfully removing the armband from Gerrard.

But Dalglish getting fired won't change the fact that the club has changed its approach before he even took over and has been trying to build through youth, which he did help in ways (and hindered in others, see, Carragher, Jamie and Coates, Sebastian).

A lot of important groundwork was laid with Dalglish at the helm. The groundwork will be more important moving forward than the immediate failures will be, and I don't believe for one second that the groundwork has been destroyed.

That being said I'm sure now Sterling, Shelvey, Kelly, Henderson, Suarez, Carroll, and Gulasci will all hand in transfer requests tomorrow.

nate said...

Re: Brainless comments

"...of course doesn't just fall to Kenny but he was a rather large part of that."

In one. Left hung out to dry by FSG's refusal/inability to help the situation.

Re: Dire Football

I mentioned questionable personnel decisions, but Carragher wasn't a huge hindrance to the club in most matches – just to Coates' development. Which is a sin, but a lesser sin in the grand scheme of things. Dalglish used Carroll mostly the same throughout the season; he simply began playing better later on, as often happens with young strikers. I don't really know what you're on about re: set play defending. Liverpool conceded from just nine corners and four free kicks this season. Yes, they often looked better under Benitez's zonal marking but set play defense wasn't really an issue compared to Liverpool conceding from brainless individual decisions (from every defender, not just Carra).

It's not necessarily the end of the world, for the reasons you write – and I do understand the decision (and FSG admittedly showed a willingness to make said tough decision) – but I also don't like where it suggests Liverpool are heading.

Mike Georger said...

I also disagree with the idea of a precedent being set. It's not just that Henry set a target of fourth and they failed to reach it, it's not like we finished fifth and were so close. We weren't a factor in the fourth place race. Closer to relegation than fourth place, and this in a season when NOBODY wanted the fourth spot, it was wide open for the taking.

If Martinez or whoever finishes fifth or sixth next year but is in the fourth place race until the end, no fucking way are they getting fired. If this wretched season is replicated, well then hey, them's the breaks.

There's no room for nostalgia in this game anymore. None.

PDubz18 said...

The first half of the season was disappointing to say the least. The defense held perfectly but there was a gap in confidence that was never bridged to put the ball in the back of the net.

The second half of the season turned a disappointing season into an absolutely abysmal season. The defense that was so solid before December fell apart, and the failings of Kenny on the Suarez affair hurt the whole morale at the club.

Going forward, I think a Lambert, Rodgers, or a Martinez will not cut it. Once they guide their teams into Europe once or twice they can be considered, but not one second earlier. Get Bielsa to come and give him a sizeable transfer fund to build his team, or get Rafa to come back with the club on much more financially sound terms.

Gabe said...

I'm not sure I see the 'foundation' from Kenny that you speak of.

If it does exist, I also don't really see how it gets completely erased with a new manager.

Mike Georger said...

Maybe it was just that the set piece defending that let to goals was so bad each time that it seemed worse. But for such an allegedly well organized defensive side it sure seemed to me like we fell all over ourselves a ton on them. Frankly I'm not going to miss Steve Clarke much is all I'm saying.

Not sure what you mean about them being hung out to dry by FSG on Suarez. They supported it from the start, but then I think they realized that it was a massive losing battle. Whoever made the decision on those fucking tshirts though, that's more brainless than anything.

Mike Georger said...

"The defense that was so solid before December fell apart"

It's almost like going into the season with Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam as the Plan B to Lucas wasn't a good idea.

Anonymous said...

If its Rafa coming in and a dignified spot is found for Kenny (as I'm sure Rafa would do), then I suspect all will be well.

nate said...

Assorted responses to above comments:

• The foundation was playing good football in many matches even if results didn't follow. It is in youngsters like Henderson, Carroll, Shelvey, Sterling – and even Coates despite not being used enough by management (at least from outsider's perspective). It is in the cup runs and the return to European football, even if only the Europa League. Liverpool didn't progress nearly enough, clearly didn't get good enough results in the league, but there was an identifiable start with some positives. A new manager will bring in a new system, new tactics, new players, etc. Even if he builds on what Dalglish started, it's starting over.

• Dalglish was almost always left holding the bag during the Suarez saga. Liverpool's communications/PR was atrocious if not non-existent throughout. Dalglish didn't help at times, but it shouldn't have been wholly his responsibility. Which it sure seemed like.

• "It's almost like going into the season with Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam as the Plan B to Lucas wasn't a good idea." Which one of the many reasons why I shed zero tears when Comolli got the axe. He clearly failed in his brief, no matter who was Dalglish's signing or who was Comolli's or whatever. Comolli deserved to be sacked. I'm less convinced whether Dalglish did.

Anonymous said...

This is GREAT for Liverpool FC! Dalglish's handling of KUYT is criminal. Nate, we need to have a talk. You said we played great football on "occasion". Have you settled for us being a non champions league caliber team? Man Utd would not be happy that they played good football on occasion.

Dalglish played Downing over Kuyt. Kuyt had more goals and assist in VERY LIMITED minutes than Downing had ALL FREAKING YEAR! Dalglish kept benching Enrique at end of season. He would keep putting in Henderson who even my gf who HATES football said (The guy who looks like a little boy, he can't pass).

Nate, we do not have a decent back four at all. Johnson's best years are behind him as he has lost pace due to injuries and will never fully recover. Agger is injury prone. Skrtel will make gafs of some clearances. Reina has become the next Cech (in a bad way).

We NEED to go to ground zero and wipe the slate COMPLETELY clean, A La Juventus and Newcastlye.

Newcastle and Juventus have been relegated and reached Champions Legaue Status in the same time we've done nothing but go downhill. Explain that Nate. Seriously, enough with the excuses. We suck. Teams have been relegated and achieved top 4 finishes while we screw around with dumb coaches and horrid english players.

Dalglish does not merit another season. If AVB could not get a full season why should Dalglish merit anything?

Nate has been settling for second tier performances and I will not stand for it. Slap yourself and wake up Nasty Nate, this is a nightmare we are in. We are BELOW EVERTON. The world is ending, and you want to keep the same leader who has us losing tons of home games.

Dalglish was sacked because we have STANDARDS and Dalglish didn't measure up. AMEN FSG! You have balls and Nate is too damn sensitive.

I still love ya Nasty Nate. By the way, how godawful are our new kits? Seriously, I live in America and have never even heard of Warrior brand lol... I feel like a poor kid who had to drink Shasta instead of a Dr. Pepper.

We do NOT need a new stadium. Money is generated mostly by merchandise in the global economy and TV rights. Ticket sales may give us an extra million or two a season. Not enough to change our squad or do much of anything. And by the time we pay back loans on the stadium we'll be needing a new one. Get a squad that deserves a new stadium first. Enough of this buy a stadium then we'll magically get a Pele. Our stadium is fine.

I still am curious as to what you mean by "a foundation in place". Spearing, Henderson, Downing, Maxi, Carrol, Adam? That is no foundation even in the championship. Stop thinking in terms of the league and think european dreams babe.

Peace up Big Nasty.

Anonymous said...

You have to remember that FSG looks at "results" and have a "trading" mentality. That is where John Henry made his money - "traders" are not emotional about investments and are trained with "stop loss" levels and clearly the stop loss was 4th place and Champions League football. We are 3-4 players short of Champions League football and Dalglish had "under-performed" from a trading perspective. Does anyone really think this team can make 3rd or 4th next year. Sad but the world has changed.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Anon. We have been getting worse. We won a cup by beating a championship side in penalties... embarassing. How can anyone argue for Kenny when we have not improved. We are no more closer to anything than when he took over. Why should he get to stay for a subpar year? It's not like he's getting paid 100K. He is making a TON of money and didn't perform up to standards of billionaires. This is life. It comes when you receive HUGE sums of money as your paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Disgraceful remarks on here, Nate you have hit the nail on the head and anyone on here baying for the kings blood is a poor excuse for a human being.

Scott B said...

At one of the anons, the problem is that we were 3-4 players away last summer, a lot of money was spent to supposedly fill those gaps, and many of the signings failed.

Do people not realize that this was the worst season since we were last promoted to the top flight in 1954? Go back through history and see what expectations previous management were held to. They were all held to a higher standard and I don't see FSG's actions as being any different than maintaining those standards.

If we had even finished 6th and there was some good signs that the players had started to get the message and play at a high level consistently, even against weaker competition, I think Kenny's still our manager. Given what happened though, I don't see how the owners could have possibly gone on sheer faith and relatively ancient history to give Kenny another year, plus the additional transfer funds we now need to fill the holes that are still there.

Anonymous said...

Scotty 2 hottie has it right.

There are no disgraceful remarks on here. Worst finish since 1954, absolute rubbish. I can't even face my coworkers. They get to talk of champions league and I get to talk about a penalty shootout against cardiff... FML! Title or Bust, that's our motto, get busy winning or get busy packing.

YNWA31 said...

I think the disgraceful comments refers to the lack of empathy of what has just happened to a club legend. Let us not forget that only Shanks and Paisley have done more than Kenny for this great club. Although we can all understand the "reasons" for his departure there is one thing understanding and another thing "wishing it so". I understand but am also very saddened at the departure.

Anonymous said...

When someone makes that kind of money, it never saddens me if they lose their job. With great salary come great responsibility.