Shortly after Kenny Dalglish was given interim control of Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, ex-Anfield midfielder Xabi Alonso tweeted: ‘Good luck King Kenny!’
On the face of it, it seems like a very straightforward message to wish the new manager well, but for me, it spoke volumes about not only Alonso, but the current desperate situation at his old club and implications for its future.
Alonso is one of an ever-growing number of ex, and current, Liverpool players who is not from England, let alone the city of Liverpool itself.
Some of them, such as Alonso himself, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan, Sami Hyypia, Jerzy Dudek, Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina, to name but a few, have made their indelible mark on the club and its history, and are honoured as great servants, if not legends.
However, there are many others, who shall remain nameless, who Liverpool fans have been glad to see leave their club. That’s without even considering the many that have come and gone whose presence was so insignificant that they are now barely remembered.
Fortunately, in previous times, they have been maybe only one or two such players simultaneously in a given squad, and the other players around them have covered their inabilities with their own play.
The point is that those players listed above seemed to realise the significance of playing for Liverpool and the importance of endeavouring to continue the great traditions of the club.
In his simple tweet, Alonso acknowledged what Dalglish means to the club and the players, and therefore his knowledge of its history, as well as his own obvious fondness for the club, in just four words.
With Liverpool in the slump they are in at the moment, I question how many of the current players have that same regard for the club and its history running through their veins? And how many are there just because Liverpool is a Premiership club (it could be ANY Premiership club), and therefore they know they will pick up an obscene amount in wages regardless of how they perform?
Of course there are a few players of whom one would not even dream of questioning their commitment to Liverpool and all that it stands for. We all know who they are.
We also all know that with some players, it is more that their lack of ability is such that they are out of their depth playing for Liverpool, which is not their fault. However, there are others, full internationals, and not necessarily foreign, with whom we get increasingly frustrated when they give lacklustre, ineffectual performances each week.
Many of the players who took part in the 4-1 demolition of Real Madrid a couple of seasons ago are still at the club. What has happened to them? Have they stopped caring? I’m sure many fans wouldn’t say that this or that player ‘is not fit to wear the shirt’ if they actually showed that they cared about the club, both on and off the pitch.
No doubt Dalglish asks himself similar questions and recognises the problems, and is wracking his brains trying to work out solutions. He has inherited the squad as is, and now he has to choose whether to stick or twist.
Does Dalglish try to get the best out of the players he has and instil in them that it is not just any club they are playing for, it is Liverpool, or does he try to move them on as quickly as he can?
In whichever Dalglish chooses to proceed, there will not be a quick fix solution. However, one thing we can be sure he will do is make sure that every player he brings in will have a similar attitude to Xabi Alonso and will be hungry to do his best for Liverpool Football Club.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.