"'King' Kenny's return to full-time management hasn't been greeted with delight from all quarters of Merseyside. An Evertonian hopes the crown begins to slip."
While the red half of Liverpool swears an oath of fealty at the feet of the returned ‘King’, the Everton half are busy praying that Dalglish’s permanent appointment doesn’t herald a restoration to former glory. In our eyes, King Kenneth reigns supreme as the man that Evertonians despise the most – the sole sense in which we also consider him to be a king.
Aside from his hairstyle, which still looks as though it’s been cut by his mum, our unmitigated enmity towards Dalglish is also attributable to his uniquely held position as the only man associated with Liverpool FC who has inflicted pain upon us as both a player and a manager. (Sorry your mom doesn't do a good job cutting yours tbqh.)
Of particular note was his player/managerial coup of winning the double over Everton in the 85/86 season (one of two footballing calamities to have made me physically ill, the other being the white suits worn by the Liverpool squad prior to the 96 FA Cup Final). This loathing of the man is the reason why two of the most cherished memories held by Evertonians are:
1) Michael Thomas’ last minute goal against Liverpool in the final game of the 88/89 season, which enabled Arsenal to snatch the title away from Dalglish in both the cruellest and funniest way possible
2) Lawrie Sanchez’s header against Liverpool in the 87/88 FA cup final; a goal that enabled a less-than-fancied Wimbledon to snatch the trophy away from Dalglish in the most humiliating and funniest way possible.
My mum and dad (both ardent Blues) were so sure that Liverpool were going to win the final, that to avoid the sight of happy reds dancing in the street the entire family was taken for a day out to Wigan instead, a choice that for some still unknown reason was deemed preferable.
These were the rare occasions of failure during Dalglish’s managerial tenure at Anfield. And so it’s understandable that Evertonians witness the re-cementing of his relationship with Liverpool with a growing sense of unease, specifically when this coincides with a time when the club are awash with money and better prepared than at any period in recent years to mount a serious assault on the title.
But if following Everton has taught me anything (aside from at what point leisurewear becomes too much leisurewear) it’s to look for the silver lining. And with this in mind, I think there are several reasons why our collective fears might be unfounded.
It’s an old adage in football that managers should never go back. The magic that they once created often proves difficult to conjure up a second time. A few have managed it, such as Graham Taylor at Watford and Walter Smith at Rangers. But they are the exceptions.
Far more common instead is the experience that we endured when the once sainted Howard Kendall came back to Everton on two separate occasions during the nineties. Despite his talents and obvious love of the club, our dreams of returning to the glory of the mid-eighties were ultimately wrecked, scuppered on the rocks of mediocrity, internal strife and Maurice Johnston.
Will things be different for Dalglish? Can he defy the odds and join the select few that manage to make things work second time around? (Yes, stay pressed.) Most red-shites would undoubtedly point to his managerial track record both with and without Liverpool as proof that here is a manager made of stronger stuff.
Even the most blinkered of Blues could probably swallow down enough bile to acknowledge that Dalglish has a better record than most. But it’s not flawless. His time at Newcastle was trophyless and when he went north of the border he fared little better. A sense of diminishing returns seems to define his post-Blackburn career, suggesting that maybe his best days are behind him.
But if all this isn’t enough to allay fears then let’s have a look at his signings since taking charge again at Liverpool, and by that I really mean the £35 million lashed out on the North-East’s finest Carlton Cole impersonator, Andy Carroll. Paying that for a player of Carroll’s uncertain quality suggests that maybe Dalglish doesn’t really know what he’s doing. (LOL OKAY) At the very least he should have tried getting him for a little less, if only to give the club the extra cash needed to cover Carroll’s stable fees and insatiable demand for sugar lumps.
Despite all of the above, red-shites will be comforted by the last five months of the season during which Dalglish put together a run of form that would have seen them in the top three if extrapolated over a whole campaign.
But as Evertonians discovered with Joe Royle, coming in and saving a club from relegation worries is one thing, translating that momentum into something longer lasting and more substantial is a different thing altogether. So I’m still hopeful. It’s a different world anyway to the one when Dalglish was last cock-of-the-city (both meanings implied). When he took over back then Liverpool already had a fearsome reputation, the solid remnants of the squad built up by Bob Paisley and a structure in place to back this up. This time round things will be much harder and every move undertaken under the constant glare of owners accustomed to winning.
So rather than worrying about a second golden age, Evertonians should instead concentrate on the other possibility. This could be the time when the crown slips. There’s every chance that by choosing to take this job Dalglish will tarnish his legacy. Just think: no more ‘King Kenny’, an end to red-sh***s enthusing at his brilliance, and the possibility of thousands of kopites calling for him to go. It could be a wonderful thing. The king might be returned to his throne but let’s not forget that plenty of monarchs have lost their heads before.
GPOY of me right now tbqh.
I'll just let my King say all that I need to say: