Let Dalglish Fix The Foundations

Posted: March 17, 2011 by mcdonaldtaf in Liverpool FC, Manager Talk
Tags: , , ,

In 1959 Bill Shankly took on a task of behemoth proportions. One which was completed expediently and achieved so much more than simply seeing Liverpool Football Club returned to the top of the football pyramid. While many would see Livepool’s 6th title win in the 1963/64 season as a crowning achievement in itself, it was only the start. Shankly was laying the foundations for decades to come. Foundations which would be built upon by subsequent managers. Turning the club, as well as Anfield, into a fortress – a bastion of invincibility.

As a manager Shankly didn’t win as many top tier titles as either Paisley or Dalglish, but his impact on the club is undeniable. Indeed it is possible that Paisley or Dalglish would not have won as many titles without the preparation before them, certainly Liverpool FC wouldn’t. It is more than winning though. Culturally Liverpool Football Club would be very different without the work of Shankly, from which much of modern Liverpool FC is still based. Despite the best efforts of the previous owners.

The previous owners cannot though be blamed for the club’s relative demise following the departure of Kenny Dalglish in 1991. That blame has to lay with a run of subsequent managers who failed to meet the expectations built into the club’s culture. Realistically the club ‘fell’ under Souness and ever since has always been in a position of trying to regain the glory days. As managers have come and gone, with varying degrees of success, the once proud fortress has seen it’s walls weakened.

Given our defences were weakening through the lack of a league title or consistent success, there could not have been a worse time for the arrival of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The pair of Americans oversaw a period at the club which initially had them reinforcing the fragile structure, while starting to do untold damage to the foundations. They were in many ways the epitome of cowboy builders. What followed was a club on the brink of administration and dealing with a cultural shift which threatened to destabilise the club for the long term.

All of this culminated with the club in disarray and teetering above the relegation zone during the first half of this season, albeit some of which was under new ownership. If the walls of the fortress were weakened before, they were crumbling now. Meanwhile the foundations, so well laid by Shankly in the 60’s, were starting to look in danger of caving in on themselves.

Things have improved since the end of 2010 but that does not mean we are anywhere near where we should be. We are Liverpool Football Club. We demanded more from our owners and when they threatened the culture of our club we took action. We expect so much from our club because we give so much. There is a man who understands this, a man for who the ethos of Shankly runs through his very being. He knows what is expected and, more importantly, I believe he knows how to get us there. In fact he is probably the only person who can not only make us competitive again, but also repair those foundations. Maybe even making them stronger than they have ever been.

I have stood corrected. I shared concerns about how long Dalglish had been out of the game. Concerns which certainly appear unfounded now. I also accept that as the figurehead of the club it is about more than tactics and game play. It’s about having that club’s culture sewn through your very being, knowing what’s expected and of taking on the demanding responsibility when you are manager of Liverpool Football Club. Roy Hodgson never got it, others before him struggled with it – but Dalglish knows it. He knows it inside out.

There are plenty of managers out there who can build a squad, make us competitive and win silverware. There is only one though who can repair the foundations at the core of the club. That man was the last successful custodian of the bastion of invincibility. He understood it then, he understands it now.

Fenway Sports Group should allow, they must allow, Kenny Dalglish the chance to fix the problems of the past and prepare us for the next 30 years. Not only on the field but also off it, where previous incumbents have hacked away at exactly what we are. He understood what Shankly had passed down from manager to manager. He was possibly the last one to fully understand it – making him the only man qualified and able to put things back just the way Shankly would have demanded.

“Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say ‘we’re Liverpool’” Bill Shankly

  1. Sam Wanjere says:

    This for me is a gem: “…We are Liverpool Football Club. We demanded more from our owners and when they threatened the culture of our club we took action. We expect so much from our club because we give so much. There is a man who understands this, a man for who the ethos of Shankly runs through his very being. He knows what is expected and, more importantly, I believe he knows how to get us there. In fact he is probably the only person who can not only make us competitive again, but also repair those foundations. Maybe even making them stronger than they have ever been…”

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the insults, banter and infinite references to the period Kenny’s been away from the game. It might be a decade and counting, but he’s still FAR outdone Hodgson, O’Neill and most of the current crop of coaches in the game today. In fact, minus Fergie, I think almost all the current crop of EPL managerial achievements pale in comparison to Dalglish. The King crushes them when you add his personal achievements as a player, be it at Celtic or Liverpool.

    What’s most important and what should be most important to any Kopite is the foundation of this institution. We do have an identity as a club, not unlike Barcelona’s way of playing. It is called TLW and was ingrained by Bill Shankly into the LFC psyche. Since KD’s departure after our last league title, only two managers in my book came close to achieving such continuity. Roy Evans, a member of the Boot Room himself was one, but without much managerial achievement trophywise. Rafa Benitez was the other, building right from youth level and inculcating a 4-2-3-1 philosophy from the most basic level upwards.

    We are in the very right and capable hands. I have no iota of doubt about Kenny’s stewardship. Confirming him as gaffer is just the first of a gargantuan step towards touching base with Shankly’s ideals for the club.

    Good read as ever.

  2. Very good piece. It is definitely an interesting way to view Kenny’s possible appointment, and a great argument to make to the owners. He’s not just here to win and get the club back to the top in the here and now, but also to relay foundations that were cracked under other managers and owners. This is key to the rebuilding of the club. Thanks for pointing it out.

  3. ollie says:

    we have fallen a very long way in the last twenty years. Rafa did very well but was undermined from day one.
    kenny has a mammoth task on his hands but he was my first choice in the summer. he is the club right now and its what we needed so badly.
    lets hope that should we be trophy less under kenny that people see past that and see that he is building for the future just as Shankly did.
    this summer will be the most exciting in years as players and staff come and go and the building begins. happy days

  4. Alex says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Dalglish being out of the game has no bearing on his being a manager. He brought in Steve Clarke who is one the best and most respected coaches in the business who is fully versed in the modern game and an excellent tactician. As you rightly said, he’s more than a manager, he’s the clubs figure head and as such will surround himself with the right people to drive the club forward in the Liverpool Way and traditions.

    The only sub-text I would add is the importance of both Houllier and Rafa. Houllier dragged the club out of the dark ages and turned Melwood into a state of the art facility along with the Academy. And Rafa built on that and put a new scouting network in place and revamped the Academy at a coaching level. Rafa reaped the benefits of Houllier’s work and Dalglish and next manager will reap the benefit of Rafa’s work with the academy with a marked improvement in quality of the kids coming out the Academy.

  5. Ed Margerum says:

    I wish Kenny well and hope that he is able to achieve the high goals that have been set. He is important as the link to the Liverpool past traditions and, as you say, the foundation laid down by Shankly. However, football has changed tremendously since Shankly’s day and a modern structure needs be built on that foundation. The appointment of Damien Comolli as Director of Football Strategy was a step in that direction. Success is not solely on Kenny’s shoulders. Success requires an organization functioning as a unit working toward the common goal.
    I have been impressed with Kenny’s ability to deal with the media, a more important and necessary talent than ever. Kenny is very good at the guarded comment. Communicating with players and inspiring their maximum effort is equally important. Strategy on the pitch is easy. Getting the players to work together as a unit is hard.

  6. Ed Margerum says:

    LFC has to rebuilt its culture. It has to re-establish its way of doing things and its way of playing. That was what John Henry did with the Red Sox and that is more important than the millions he’s spent. The Red Sox under long term owner Tom Yawkey were a “country club”. The Sox always had talent. The Sox always paid well. However, they were often lackidaisical when it came to practice and teamwork. They had many great players but weren’t a great team. It was said of them that the Sox, after a game, were 25 guys leaving in 25 taxis. Under John Henry, the players are hard working, dedicated to winning, keep in shape in the off season and expect to be winners. There have been some great players let go by the Sox under John Henry because they didn’t put in the effort. That sort of change doesn’t happen overnight. Of the 53 players of 2006, only 6 played last year.

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