It is nearly a year since Kenny Dalglish returned to Anfield to take up the managerial reigns for a second time at the club where he made his name.
Lest we forget, Dalglish was brought in to replace Roy Hodgson after a miserable run that saw the Merseyside club slump to it’s worst points total at the turn of a year since 1954.
By the way Liverpool fans are talking, things at the club are far improved from Hodgson’s time in charge.
Is this really the case though? Has Dalglish made that much of a difference?
It is hard to argue against the view that the arrival of ‘King Kenny’ has made a significant difference to the fortunes of the club.
However, this pudding can be over-egged somewhat when compared to the perceived dark days under Hodgson.
The table from last season shows a Liverpool side with nine less points after 20 games than they have at the moment, as well as seven league places worse off.
On the face of it, this looks to be a significant impact made by Dalglish, but the devil is in the detail. Liverpool this season have won just two games more than at the same stage last season, which doesn’t suggest a miraculous improvement.
The key point, though, is that they have lost half as many games as they had under Hodgson. The scoring record under Dalglish has been almost identical to that of his predecessor – this has been rightly criticised though.
The key to the change in their fortunes has been the difficulty teams have found in breaking Liverpool down. Making Liverpool harder to beat was Dalglish’s first aim it seems.
The spur of this rearguard success could be placed upon two factors, one of which is the financial backing the Scot has received that Hodgson did not have. The other is the dropping of Jamie Carragher.
Under Hodgson, Carragher was as important as he had been in the last decade at Liverpool. This has changed in the last few months under Dalglish and his omission from the starting XI has coincided with the Anfield side attaining the best defensive record in the league.
It is possible to argue that Hodgson may have been able to produce equally positive results, had he been given similar financial backing as Dalglish. There are too many ifs and buts in that scenario for it to have any worth.
There is one very palpable improvement that cannot be argued against and that is morale at the club. The atmosphere at Anfield under Hodgson has been attributed to many Kopites not feeling that the man who came from Fulham was a bog enough name for their club.
This is one of many suggestions that have been put forward, but there are too many to debate. Whatever the cause, there was an undeniable and interminable gloom hanging over the club that just couldn’t seem to be shifted.
The presence of Dalglish was also broached as adding to the glum looks on Liverpool faces – he was certainly the fans original choice for the role.
The turnaround in morale was almost instant when the Kop legend was installed as caretaker manager until the end of last season. When he led the club to a sixth place finish, there weren’t many who would bet that he wouldn’t be offered the job permanently.
So a year down the line and Liverpool seem to be doing better, though not by such a distance as their fans enthusiasm would have you think.
Being more dogged and tightening up at the back has been the key to these small steps of improvement, but something has taken control of the Merseyside club, something that spreads irrepressible optimism – it is the cult of ‘King Kenny’.
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