Liverpool manager Kenny Dalgish was sacked this week after little more than 16 months in charge.
His second spell as manager of the Merseyside club was far from a comfortable one, with the Scot facing a barrage of criticism about everything from his transfer policy to his side’s poor league form and his actions following Luis Suarez’s ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
So have the club’s American owners done the right thing in sacking a club legend - or did he deserve another season at the helm? Two GMF writers are here to argue both sides of the story.
Pete South: "Dalglish deserved another season"
Liverpool haven’t won a domestic league title in 22 years – and the sacking of Kenny Dalglish makes them look further away from ending that barren spell than ever.
Liverpool’s league campaign has been farcical at times this season, there is no avoiding that. Very rarely did they ever look like getting near the top four spot that the owners so dearly craved in order to balance the books.
There is also no avoiding that Dalglish’s archaic stance over Luis Suarez’s ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra damaged his reputation either. By the end even his dedicated followers in the Kop had started to lose faith.
Nor did his transfer dealings exactly cover him in glory – and the fact he took responsibility for the club’s transfer policy upon Damien Comolli’s exit mean he was put right in the firing line.
Over £100 million was spent in his time and all he got back was a handful of goals from Andy Carroll and months of derision. No so much Moneyball but a money balls up – although if the England squad is anything to go by then he was bang on the money.
But Liverpool’s failings were not solely down to Dalglish – their problems are deep rooted and have not been helped by cutting off the nose to spite the face.
Dalglish stepped up when asked by the club’s owners and guided them up the table after Hodgson had left, and while results didn’t always reflect what they deserved, there were plenty of times this season that the Scot had Liverpool playing some of the most attractive football in the league.
His assertion, that in this day and age, that cup runs would be enough to appease fans and the owners was wrong, but their first piece of silverware since 2006 at least counts for something.
By getting rid of Dalglish, Liverpool’s owners have not only removed the man that offered them a semblance of stability in the aftermath of Roy Hodgson’s catastrophic time in charge but also the man that stopped the fans raising serious questions about their ownership.
Now with Dalglish gone at the very least a season too early they have left themselves wide open to criticism, and their next steps could be crucial in whether Liverpool stand a chance of getting back anywhere near the top four in the future.
Fenway Sports Group have organised a £120 million overdraft facility for the club, effectively borrowing in the club’s name rather than investing their own money. A new stadium seems a million miles away and the club are without a series of leading backroom staff members, namely a director of football and a director of communications.
If Dalglish wasn’t sacked then there would have been few questions asked about goings on behind the scenes. Now the club are asking on Twitter who fans want to be the next boss, Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers’ has turned them down and they appear amateurish and vulnerable, none of which is helpful in moving the club forward.
And where does this leave the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher? As Liverpool lads through and through and natural leaders at the club they will feel disenfranchised, not only with the loss of their childhood idol but the fourth change of manager in as many years.
Ian Ayre was forced to speak out and deny that major players will leave the club, but if there was one positive to come out of the Suarez scandal was that at least the team showed unity behind the Uruguayan and Dalglish, something that is now shot to pieces.
Glen Johnson raised an interesting point this week. Liverpool hit the woodwork over 30 times this season, more than any other team in the Premier League.
Now, there is little to be gleaned from that statistic, aside from that Liverpool were unlucky this season.
Imagine though, if those 33 strikes had hit the back of the net instead of the frame. Where could Liverpool have finished in the league? Because that’s what Dalglish's departure came down to, league position.
Something so arbitrary could have made a massive difference. But now we’ll never know if Dalglish could have turned it around and Liverpool are now scrambling around interviewing 12 managers in the hope of saving face.
Liverpool’s cult hero has been denied his right to reply to the criticism he has faced this season – and that is something the club and it’s owners may come to regret sooner rather than later.
Brendan Simpson: "Liverpool's owners were right to act now"
Liverpool’s owners did the necessary thing in sacking Kenny Dalglish.
The club has finished eighth in the Premier League and has had one of the most disappointing seasons, in terms of the league, in a long time.
Debating whether a Carling Cup and failure in the FA Cup final is a successful season is pointless.
Many poorer sides than Liverpool have had seasons where a successful cup run has augmented an otherwise regular season.
Kopites will be hoping this is not the case for the Anfield club, but you cannot deny the most reliable barometer for a club is where they finish in the league.
The weekly drudge of travelling round the country is a club’s bread and butter, while advancement in knockout competitions should only be an added bonus.
Dalglish was the fans; man, he was King Kenny, the club’s greatest ever player and also a highly successful manager.
Who else could it be but Kenny? Especially as there had always been an air of unfinished business around his departure in 1991 due to the stresses of the game, and taking a leading role in the club’s recovery from the trauma of the Hillsborough tragedy.
One of the reasons Dalfglish is so popular fans was his sense of duty to the families of those that died, though it ended up being a factor in him burning out.
Dalglish was supposed to be their saviour from the disastrous ownership of Hicks and Gillett, but he essentially became the final casualty of a reign that has transformed the club.
Liverpool must now evolve once more, they must accept they made expensive mistakes in some of the players they signed and take on a mentality of evolution.
Roy Hodgson was the first to fall under the weight of calamitous ownership and its subsequent power struggle, though remnants of that sour regime have affected on the psyche of the club and its despairing fans.
John Henry did the right thing when he answered the fans’ cries for Dalglish 18 months ago; he had no other option if he wanted to avoid the turmoil of his compatriot predecessors.
This icon from the club’s glorious past would come in on a wave of enthusiasm and lead them to a taste of the past.
Sadly, it doesn’t work like that and Champions League football is the currency that talks in the modern game, something Dalglish could not provide.
The club has been stabilised somewhat, but they must now work under a narrative of rebuilding and evolution, because the road back into the top four looks as though it is going to be long and slow one.
A young manager like Roberto Martinez is perfect to stamp a new identity on Liverpool.
The glories of the past must leave with Dalglish and the construction of a new legacy must begin.