Liverpool legend Ian Rush believes manager Kenny Dalglish has become a different person to the man he formed a formidable strike partnership with in the 1980s, saying the Scot is now ‘more relaxed’ now he is in his second spell as manager with the club.
Dalglish returned for his second spell in charge at Anfield in January last year and guided the Reds to a sixth place finish after former boss Roy Hodgson was sacked following their worst start to a season since 1954.
Since then Dalglish has bought in a host of new signings and been accredited with rekindling a buzz around Anfield that was missing under Hodgson, although the man branded as “King Kenny” by the club’s fans has had to endure perhaps his most difficult time of his second spell in charge of Liverpool in recent weeks.
Liverpool were heavily criticised for their behavior after Luis Suarez’s ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, while a series of defiant statements leveling accusations of bias at the F.A further embittered some spectators.
Winger Stewart Downing’s recent arrest and a fan being arrested for racially abusing Oldham player Tom Adeyemi at Anfield during the 5-1 FA Cup third round victory has also cast a cloud over Anfield, but Rush says Dalglish has mellowed with age and is now better at dealing with incidents involving his players.
“I think Kenny is more relaxed now than he was before,” the former Liverpool forward said. "By that I don’t mean he’s easy going – you don’t want to get on the wrong side of him.
“But he knows more about life now. It’s a positive. In many ways he’s the same. He still gives 100% and his hunger and desire to win is as great as ever. He’s still the best man manager around.
“He has this ability to give you confidence and belief, and knows how to get the best out of players. People want to play for him. With Kenny it’s all about the club. You win nothing as individuals, it’s all about the team.
“Those players who aren’t playing week in week out have to be looked after. He did that when we won the double in ‘86. Keeping everyone in the squad happy isn’t easy but Kenny knows how important it is.”