- Blackburn Rovers News
- News Archive
- League Table
- Championship News
Martin Samuel: What now for Liverpool crying out for Kenny Dalglish?
Published : 04 Jan 2011 08:07:43
Give it to Kenny Dalglish. There really is no alternative. Despite the fillip of Saturday's late win over Bolton Wanderers, now that we know Roy Hodgson is approaching journey's end at Liverpool, the idea of landing another sap with what is fast becoming the impossible job is utterly self-defeating. New England Sports Ventures said they would listen to the fans and the fans have spoken: they want Dalglish. The chants have become a petition and a 3,000-word treatise setting out the reasons. Much of it could have been written before a ball had even been kicked this season. Never walk alone: King Kenny is the choice of the Anfield fans and Liverpool's soft-touch owners may find it hard to refuse Dalglish was always the fans' first choice but, unlike John Henry and NESV, the previous owners were not hostage to well-meaning social contracts. And therein lies the problem. What Liverpool need is the third way. Where former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were at war with the fans, Henry and NESV have sought to embrace them and in doing so have misguidedly created an air of entitlement. There could be difficult times ahead as fans who believe they are equal partners come to realise the true nature of their relationship. There is only one way for a football club to be run and that is as a benevolent dictatorship. By all means take history and tradition into account, don't change the colours and don't bump the name of the club's greatest player from the main stand to chase a few quid from Compare the Meerkat, but supporter input should be limited to supporter issues. The identity of the manager is not within that remit. Sorry. A new owner might float the idea of naming rights for the ground, as Randy Lerner did at Aston Villa, to gauge fan reaction. Fair enough. But NESV took their battle for hearts and minds a step further and may have given the wrong impression. Having been told of the unique nature of Liverpool's relationship with its public and knowing how horrendously the last American buy-out unfolded, they sold their deal on talk of consultation. The die was cast for Hodgson from that moment. A job that was already extraordinarily difficult became unworkable because the supporters increasingly felt they were playing a part in the decision-making process. Maybe they are, seeing as leaks that Liverpool are seeking a new manager followed a new low in Hodgson's rapport with the fans. Either way, some truly dismal results and performances have left the manager without much of a case for the defence. All that can be argued is Liverpool are ninth after their weekend win, with the potential for sixth if games in hand are won, and who thought this was going to be anything other than a transitional season anyway? The club has long existed as a Spanish enclave relying on a handful of top players and with Rafael Benitez gone, there was always likely to be trouble. Once Dalglish let it be known that he wanted the job, however, the atmosphere around Hodgson's appointment turned septic. He was not booed into the dug-out, as Gary Megson was at Bolton, because Liverpool is not like that, but when Hodgson finally cracked and said that the famous Anfield support had never been there for him, he was basically right. They wanted Dalglish, not him, and when the season began poorly, their frustration was inescapable. Then new owners arrived and, with a promise to listen, as good as sealed Hodgson's fate. On target: Fernando Torres was back on the scoresheet at the weekend but what happens when his next dry spell arrives? The current situation is complex, not least because the word emerging from within the club is that Dalglish is not under consideration this time, either. Hodgson' s replacement is most likely to be another foreign coach, and the arrival of a big name may buy a little time. Yet what if Fernando Torres remains uninspired and Jamie Carragher continues to slow down? What if Joe Cole truly has lost his way, Pepe Reina tries to follow Javier Mascherano out of the club and moving Steven Gerrard to central midfield transpires not to be the panacea many would have you believe? SAMBA'S ROVER THE MOON So all's well that ends well at Blackburn Rovers. Christopher Samba (right) will be restored to the captaincy when he is fit because, as he explained to manager Steve Kean, he did not actually want to leave, but merely had an aspiration to play in Europe. If the opportunity arose, he said, it was something he would look at. Samba could have made that wish known in a private conversation but instead chose to deliver it across two pages in a national newspaper. From here, you never know, something might turn up. Football is full of strange coincidences like that. What if Hodgson's new signings and the remnants of Benitez's squad are as ordinary as they have looked this season? Will the locals then accept the malaise runs deeper than the shortcomings of a manager, or will they look at the Anfield legend in the directors' box who has made no secret of his managerial ambitions? And when they spy him, what will they say? They will say 'Dalglish', in that agitated, insistent manner that has left Hodgson feeling so alone this season. They will say it on message boards and during phone-ins because one of the myths here is that a Liverpool manager always enjoys unanimous, unwavering support. Yes, the fans got behind Benitez, but after he delivered the Champions League in amazing circumstances in his first season, that was hardly a stretch. Backing him against Hicks and Gillett was pretty much a no-brainer, too. Whenever Liverpool lost, the airwaves were swamped to the point of tedium by disgruntled supporters, and it wasn't all love, love, love on Merseyside. Not that this makes Liverpool fans bad people, just not entirely different to a lot of other supporters. They want their team to win, and when it doesn't, they want alternatives. Benitez emerged victorious from some pretty big games, and opinion was divided, even at the end. Hodgson has inherited a diseased football club, lost on significant occasions and denied the local hero his heritage. It is hard to imagine he can retrieve this situation, even if Liverpool clamber back to the Europa League places. Reds reprieve: Hodgson remains in charge for now at Anfield thanks to Joe Cole's dramatic winner against Bolton If we accept Hodgson's cause is lost, what will be fascinating is the response of the new owners. Do they give the supporters what they want, even on a temporary basis, or do they take an entirely new direction? And might this not see them end up exactly where they are now; listening to the case for King Kenny, only this speech angrier than the last. Buy Dzeko and tame MarioIan Holloway announced before Blackpool's match against Manchester City on Saturday that his reaction to Mario Balotelli-style insubordination in the ranks would be a swift punch to the hooter. As man-management strategies go, it is not one likely to land the big jobs. The owners do not buy £30million-worth of striker only to have him duffed up in the car park. Yet some of Holloway's more measured statements will have struck a chord. He said that players have to know who the boss is and toe the line or get the boot, and while this can be explained more directly over a knuckle sandwich, Manchester City have the money to take a subtler route - by signing Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko. Forward thinking: Manchester City will hope to unveil Edin Dzeko in January and keep Mario Balotelli (R) happy This is a shot across the bows to all those who would challenge the authority of the club. City can, and will, spend their way out of any tantrum. Losing Balotelli, or Carlos Tevez, would be a blow, but they are better fixed than most to ride it - and indeed to turn it to their advantage - being under no pressure to sell. Dzeko comes dearer than a slap from Holloway, but he is likely to be more effective, too. Preston's loans are a case of foul playPreston North End had three Manchester United players on loan - until they sacked manager Darren Ferguson. His dad, Sir Alex Ferguson, instantly recalled Ritchie de Laet and Josh King, and the third, Matty James, is back in Manchester having treatment on an injury and under pressure not to return. Ferguson's friend Tony Pulis, manager of Stoke City, then ordered an early recall for another two Preston loanees, Michael Tonge and Danny Pugh, both former United youth players. And there is the loan system in all its shoddy, conniving glory. A glorified old pal's act in which one club maintain influence over, or are influenced by, another, through means that fly against every concept of integrity and fair play. In and out: Darren Ferguson's departure as manager at Preston has left stand-in David Unsworth with a depleted squad list As it turns out, Manchester United and Stoke's players can't have been all that good because Preston are bottomof the Championship. De Laet, Pugh, Tonge and King all started Ferguson's final game in charge, in which Preston lost 3-1 at home to Middlesbrough; but suppose the club was mid-table? United and Stoke's players could have been the difference between survival and relegation. Even now, they may be the difference between Preston still being in touch - they are six points behind 21st-placed Sheffield United with a game in hand - or utterly cut adrift. The decisions to recall the loaned players may now condemn Preston to relegation by weakening the quality and strength of their squad. How can football have rules governing third-party interference, yet still allow this? AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT...England's cricketers retain the support of Mick Jagger, and at a charity event for Shane Warne, the entertainment was provided by Leo Sayer (right), boasting newly acquired Australian citizenship and pledging allegiance to the home team. Gentlemen, on the subject of Australian music, I rest my case. The most preposterous aspect of modern cricket is that the truth afforded the participants varies from game to game. England and Australia's players have had a lot of truth available to them during the Ashes, with video reviews using all manner of technological advances, including the marvellous Hot Spot. The best Test teams in the world, however South Africa and India are without any of it, a source of great frustration to South African captain Graeme Smith, who felt his side were on the wrong end of three bad decisions in their 87-run second Test defeat in Durban. Fair play: South Africa captain Graeme Smith has called for equal changes in cricket Smith called on the ICC to act. He is right. It's laughable that there is not a standard system ofvideo review, financed and implemented by the ICC, and available at all matches. How can England and Australia play to one set of rules and India and South Africa another? The heat is on QatarHeat is on: England manager, Fabio Capello Fabio Capello entered the debate over the 2022 World Cup this week, joining the many voices advocating a shift from June to January to avoid the searing heat. The Qataris insist they will be able to stage the tournament at any time, thanks to the magic of air conditioning. That is, providing it works. I attended the first artificially cooled World Cup game in 1994, played at the Pontiac Silverdome, near Detroit, when Switzerland drew 1-1 with the United States. I don't remember much of the match, but I do remember the air conditioning broke down, or was overwhelmed. There were 73,425 people there, and it soon felt like high summer in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Air conditioning is not always reliable. How many times have you been in a hotel room when it has gone wrong? The difference with the World Cup scheduled for Qatar is that if the machines fail, people won't just sweat, they may die. The Silverdome, built for £25million in 1975, was recently sold for £370,000 less than the cost of an average semi nearby. This is because air conditioning costs a lot of money to maintain, whatever our newly anointed World Cup hosts say. Tottenham are now prioritising the capture of London's Olympic Stadium over a new ground in the environs of White Hart Lane, but their plans would still deal a substantial blow to the concept oflegacy. The new venue would be lost to athletics, with Tottenham instead proposing to redevelop the dilapidated stadium at Crystal Palace. Yet the reason London's main athletics stadium fell into disrepair is its poor location, awayfrom fast-moving roads and the London Underground. Field of dreams: Tottenham want to occupy the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games Athletics fans would be back where they started they'd have a nice new track, but the same old problems. The infrastructure around the Olympic park should benefit followers of a variety of sports, not just one football club. Bring Wales in lineAlan Tate had an appeal against a red card in the match with Queens Park Rangers rejected last week by the Football Association of Wales. Despite the proper result for the Swansea City defender, it is ridiculous that disciplinary hearings for Welsh clubs remain home fixtures, and with Swansea and Cardiff City potential members of the Premier League next season, this anomaly must be removed now. The Welsh FA is that way: Swansea's Alan Tate was disciplined by the Football Association of Wales after his Boxing Day dismissal at Loftus Road The Welsh FA oversee the Welsh league, the English FA oversee matters in England. The Premier League cannot afford the late closure of another stable door, as happened with the absence of under-soil heating at newly-promoted Blackpool. These issues must be addressed in advance; it is not good enough just to react. Red Man Walking: Hodgson's Liverpool future still on a knife edgeEXCLUSIVE: Mario Balotelli: Tell the Manchester City fans that when I hear them chant my name I'm smiling insideGraham Poll: Neville and Johnson were lucky not to have seen redMatch Zone: Everything you need to know about Saturday's action Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Jamie Carragher, Pepe Reina, Christopher Samba, Javier Mascherano, George Gillett, Joe Cole, Roy Hodgson, Darren Ferguson, Steven Gerrard, Graeme Smith, Ian Holloway, Tom Hicks, Fabio Capello, Kenny Dalglish, John Henry, Fernando Torres, Danny Pugh, Edin Dzeko, Tony Pulis, Mick Jagger, Rafael Benitez, Gary Megson, Carlos Tevez, Shane Warne, Leo Sayer Places: Manchester, Liverpool, London, Wales, Qatar, Australia, United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Switzerland, Europe, Olympic Stadium Organisations: Football Association of Wales