“They sacked Kenny”
There was a moment in May 2012 when it seemed that Anfield had turned into an episode of South Park. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish had just flown to Boston to present the American owners with the end of season report; a disappointing eighth place in the league, having reached two cup finals, winning one and losing the other.
No man alive had done more to put Liverpool FC where it was than Kenny Dalglish. As a player and then as a manager, he epitomised the Liverpool Way.
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Terry Forsyth, the retiring Anfield grounds manager, summed up 43 years of the ‘The Liverpool Way’ as: “The compassion in your heart to work to the highest ability and achievement that you can and always perform and do your best.”
Dalglish had done his best but it was not good enough for the men from Boston. Without a top-four finish and Champions League football at Anfield, they sacked Kenny.
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They went for a young, inexperienced manager with new ideas, and it almost worked. Eleven league victories in a row towards the end of the 2013/14 season had made Liverpool, in the words of ex-Reds defender and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson: “The best team to watch in
It almost worked for Brendan Rodgers but that same inexperience came back to haunt him in the final three games.
After the victory at Norwich had mathematically secured at least fourth place, the celebrations after Carrow Road were followed by Steven Gerrard's slip against Chelsea and the collapse at Crystal Palace meaning one point from a possible six at exactly the wrong time.
The dream of a long-awaited League title was gone and along with it went Luis Suarez.
The next year’s end of season report was a disappointing sixth place in the league, having reached two cup semi-finals, and losing them both.
It was after the Northern Irishman’s departure in October 2015, Liverpool legend Graeme Souness remarked: “With all due respect to Brendan Rodgers, I just don't see how they gave him the job in the first place.
“They were replacing Kenny Dalglish, who wins a League Cup, and if it hadn't been for Petr Cech they might have won the FA Cup against Chelsea."
John Aldridge, another Liverpool legend and life-long Reds supporter said recently, "Liverpool have spent money, they've changed manager, they've looked for solutions but they haven't been able to fix the big problem."
And the big problem seems to be the American owners’ obsession with fourth place.
By contrast, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has nailed his claret and blue colours to the mast by saying that he would "rather win the FA Cup than qualify for the Champions League."
The Croat said: “Win the Cup and I can hold it up... The proof is silverware."
Jurgen Klopp’s arrival in October 2015 left enough time and matches to mount a serious challenge for a top-four finish, if not the title. Unfortunately, being stuck with the same players, Liverpool are trying to win football matches by using the force of the manager’s personality but that is only taking the team so far.
Klopp’s “heavy metal football” is, in fact, rock and roll football in so far as one rocking performance is followed by the Reds rolling over in the next game. The league table and statistics do not lie; the German’s point per game average is currently worse than that of his predecessor.
It was two years ago when Luis Suarez was still on Merseyside that his fellow Uruguayan the then-Sunderland manager Gus Poyet predicted that Liverpool would be a mid-table team without him.
And two years later the only thing biting is reality, with hopes of a top-four finish slimmer than a supermodel on a hunger strike. Increasingly, the only realistic way for Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League is by winning the Europa League.
Can it be done?
Definitely, maybe. If Jurgen Klopp can use his will to power Liverpool to two cup finals and win the Europa League, then he may be able to surpass Kenny as the new King of the Kop.
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