20101011

Is Kenny ready to manage Liverpool again?


Those with an eye for coincidence among the Liverpool fans hoping to see Kenny Dalglish reinstalled as manager at Anfield will already be seeing the first Merseyside derby of the season in a portentous light.

It was only hours after an extraordinary FA Cup match with Everton in February 1991 that Dalglish stunned the Liverpool board by submitting his resignation.

Liverpool had not lost.  The match, a fifth-round replay, ended 4-4. But Liverpool had been in front four times and Dalglish, his health already suffering through the stress of the job, blamed himself for the result.

In the present circumstances, Roy Hodgson might happily take another 4-4 when the rivals re-engage at Goodison on Sunday. Anything worse and the signs of faltering terrace support that surfaced in the embarrassing home defeat to Blackpool will surely gather momentum.

Dalglish recalls his decision to quit in My Liverpool Home, a new autobiography published last month, some 14 years after he and collaborator Henry Winter, the Daily Telegraph’s football correspondent, teamed up for Kenny Dalglish: My Autobiography.

“My nerves were shredded long before February 20, 1991,” Dalglish writes, recounting days when he would snap at his children and seek solace in “a few glasses of wine” that “took the edge off me.”  He describes himself frankly as “a mess.”

Given those vivid and painful memories and the emotional turmoil he made no attempt to disguise when he announced his decision to quit, his decision to apply for the manager’s job last summer as Liverpool sought to replace Rafa Benitez seems extraordinary.

Dalglish had to deal with unique circumstances during his five and a half seasons in charge.  Elsewhere in the book, he talks about Hillsborough in harrowing detail and there is no doubt the disaster took a huge toll.  But essentially it was a successful period in the club’s history.

The Dalglish of today is older and wiser, no doubt, while the 21 years that have elapsed since Hillsborough will have healed some of the psychological wounds.

But one wonders, nonetheless, why he would consider putting his wellbeing on the line again with a team that has failed year after year to recreate his title-winning success and which he would probably have to rebuild almost in its entirety.

Roy Hodgson may find himself in the right place at the wrong time when the battle for ownership is concluded but it might be better for Liverpool and their former manager if the return of King Kenny goes no further than a little romantic fantasising on the Kop.

My Liverpool Home, by Kenny Dalglish, is published by Hodder and Stoughton.

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