By Tom Eckett
Ever since Kenny Dalglish walked through those Anfield gates in January 2011, with Liverpool languishing 11th in the table, the King’s side has gone from strength to strength. With wins over the likes of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (twice), Man City and Man United, how has King Kenny been able to change Liverpool so dramatically over the past year or so?
There is no doubt that Dalglish is one of the best motivators in the Premier League ever since the days of Jose Mourinho perhaps and this was a key factor in the rapid progression of Liverpool’s fortunes. This was noticeable in his first game in charge and I hate to remind you of this day when United beat us in the FA Cup but we could already notice a change in the players’ attitude as one could see the way they wanted to play for each other and for their manager. Roy Hodgson was not in the same league as Kenny when it came to the motivational side of management and in my view that is absolutely crucial at a club like Liverpool. The players needed to be able to feel again what is was like to walk out onto Anfield and know that they could win any game and that is what Dalglish was able to bring to Liverpool.
Shrewd signings have also been key to Dalglish’s transformation of the club. The likes of Luis Suarez, Jose Enrique and Craig Bellamy have been incisive in Liverpool’s success. Suarez has become one of the focal points of the team and his name is always first on the team sheet. After just a few weeks of him signings us the fans were already chanting ‘Fernando who?’ at the Kop end as Suarez’s performances have been majestical. Andy Carroll and Stuart Downing have still yet to prove themselves sufficiently but I believe that all they need is enough game time to become fully moulded into Dalglish’s and Liverpool’s style of play. Jose Enrique, signed for £5.5 million has been instrumental in a solid back four this season and for me he has been the signing of the season for Liverpool. What impressed the critics the most about Dalglish was the way he went about the Torres saga he was able to make it so we did not need Torres. His final crushing words on the subject were ‘no player is bigger than the club’ and that summed up the situation perfectly.
Dalglish’s appointment of Steve Clarke was decisive factor in his transformation. Clarke’s influence on the training field as the tactician has been world class and it has been instrumental in the change in mood around Anfield. Liverpool over the past year have become a different force thanks to Dalglish and Clarke and while Dalglish’s player management has been second-to-none, Clarke has been able to make a noticeable difference in the way we play. The decision to play 5 at the back against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was a pure masterstroke by Clarke and his appointment was no less dazzling.
I am struggling to run out of superlatives for Dalglish and what he has done for Liverpool is a pure blessing but he must continue his success and qualify for Europe if he is going to be able a true title challenge next season.