Liverpool need to break with past to succeed
Published: 18.01.11 / Written by: David Gold
So busy were the Liverpool fans creating an idol for themselves that they missed the bigger picture entirely.
Kenny Dalglish was clearly a great manager for a time when he was at the club over 20 years ago, but is he really the man to solve their problems now? In 2011? Football has changed unrecognisably since he last had any kind of success in the top division.
There is a wonderful scene in the Life of Brian, when Brian loses his shoe, and his followers find it and proclaim it to be a sign from the 'chosen one.' The masses gathered and sought out the advice and influence of Brian and his 'wisdom.' The current Liverpool fans could do well to learn from the lesson of that crowd.
Since his Blackburn team won the league in 1995, Arsene Wenger arrived and transformed Arsenal with his foreign methods and innovation. The rest of the league's managers soon followed suit and copied the methodical and precise preparation the Frenchman brought to England.
Then there was the money, the pressure, the sensationalisation of the media as a result of the growth of social media. Oh, and the pressure. And even more money. And billionaires from Russia. And billionaires from Qatar who made the billionaires from Russia look rather feeble. And then there was the death of 4-4-2, the rise of 4-5-1, and then the resurgence of defensive tactics. And then there was the return of attacking tactics.
So quite a lot has happened since the Scot has been away. Dalglish's Liverpool side were a success in the old First Division with the traditional style of the Anfield club; passing, creativity and mvoement combined to tear apart their opponents. But his 1995 team at Blackburn were also a 4-4-2 outfit, who were altogether more functional. They practised their diagnol passes and resorted to a more direct style of football. And then his Newcastle side were even worse, achieving not even a goal a game after he replaced the 'other' messiah Kevin Keegan in 1999.
So the question is; did Dalglish simply copy the old Liverpool formula of the late 1980s in order to achieve success first time around at Anfield? Sure, he won the league with Blackburn in 1995, but with direct, functional and frankly, 20th century tactics. Football has revolutionised beyond all recognition since then.
The defeat at Blackpool on Wednesday night will be a reality check for all at Anfield, particularly Dalglish. He might, you never know, do something phenomenol and bring back some form of at least respectability to the club, but on the other hand, he might out Hodgson. And that is not a compliment.
He clearly has a bunch of talented players at his disposal. If he can get them to play at their best then Liverpool might still have something to cheer when May rolls around. But it is a big 'might.' Equally, Dalglish may fail to transform the fortunes of the ageing Steven Gerrard, and the evidence is that he is even more of a fan of the traditional 4-4-2 and long ball style than Roy Hodgson. Who by the way, was not a fan of long ball football in the slightest. So if Hodgson cannot prevent the Liverpool defenders from launching the ball forward aimlessly as though it was some kind of overheating timebomb, then what are Dalglish's chances of turning around their fortunes?
The reality is that whilst sentimentalism and the memories of distant glory days of the past might not be an altogether bad thing, it is a dangerous tactic. Going back to the past is a risk. Liverpool have failed to return to the top of the English game since Dalglish won them their last league title in 1990, but in their desperation to restore parity between themselves and rivals Manchester United, they seem to have forgotten the key to United's success. A manager with the skills to succeed, and the time to implement his ideas. Until Liverpool learn that, it will be a long while before they win anything again.
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