It’s little surprise that the visit to Anfield of Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City has seen comparisons made with current Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish’s spell as manager of Blackburn.
Both sides had rich benefactors trying to give them the boost they needed financially to become a force in the game. The difference is that the money being spoken about has changed almost beyond recognition.
Kenny Dalglish spent in the region of £3.5m signing Alan Shearer for his newly-promoted side – a British transfer record at the time. Blackburn would finish fourth and second in their first two seasons in the newly-formed Premier League. That was an achievement in itself, unthinkable these days for a side so new to the top flight, but then in the third season – after Kenny had paid £5m for Chris Sutton – they won the league.
All this had cost Jack Walker around £30m, not including the money he spent on improvements to Ewood Park. That’s less than Manchester City’s new owners paid for their first new signing – they paid Real Madrid £32.5m for Robinho.
That was before Mancini arrived, and although it remains the club’s highest transfer fee they’ve certainly not been shy of spending money since, including a £27m splurge on Dzeko in January. In all Mancini has spent in the region of £150m since arriving at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Perhaps being led on by reporters to mock Mancini for the cash he’s had at his disposal Kenny wasn’t going to bite: “I’m certainly not disrespectful of anything Roberto Mancini has done at City or before he came to City. It’s not his fault that Manchester City have wealthy owners and are prepared to spend money.
“He will be judged on results and that is the only way you can be judged.”
Kenny suggested the extra cash may make it harder, not easier, for Mancini: “There is no guarantee of instant success just because he has money at his disposal. There is nobody anywhere who has won a trophy without having had some money to spend.
“He might have more to spend than most people would expect, or most people would hope for, but along with that comes added pressure.”
In the event anyone was thinking of having a pop at his opposite number, Kenny warned: “I don’t see how anyone could be disrespectful towards what Roberto Mancini has achieved in football, whether he has money or not.”
Although Dalglish was undoubtedly well-looked after in terms of transfer budgets at Blackburn he says a lot of what was reported was exaggerated anyway: “We never had that much money. People believed that the players were getting paid fortunes, but we had one player who left for another club and got four times the wages he was on at Blackburn.”
And when he read the reports? “We just laughed at it. It was ignorance. People didn’t know what the financial situation was.”
Even now there’s a tendency to exaggerate the wages a player might be on, it certainly happens with players at Anfield, but Kenny feels the only similarities between his Blackburn and Mancini’s City is the jealousy: “I don’t think there are any parallels. The only thing that is consistent between the two clubs is that everybody else is jealous, or were jealous, of the perceived money that Blackburn supposedly had and are jealous of the money that City obviously do have.
“Manchester City will get to where they want to go in their own time and their own way. The only consistency is money and there is a disparaging detail in the sums involved.”
Of his own side Kenny admitted that despite the club staring relegation in the face at one stage this season they are still not satisfied with their current league position: “I don’t think sixth is where we want to be, but credit to the players because the lads that have got us to where we are deserve great credit for it.
“I don’t think they could have done much more. We’ve won some games maybe people thought we couldn’t win. At the end of the day, we will add up the points at the end of the season and see where we are.”
Mancini said he was grateful that the fixture list had started to thin out a little, and had praise of his own for Kenny: “The players are looking fresher. We had problems when we played every three days. Now most of the players are available and that is important.
“Dalglish is a fantastic manager. He was an incredible player, I remember him very well.”
“Liverpool are a very strong team, especially at home. They lost two important players in Mascherano and Torres but they bought Suarez and Carroll as well as other good players. It will be a very hard game.”
It’s safe to say that Liverpool will be expecting a hard game too, but on their day even an injury-depleted Liverpool side can be a tough side to beat, certainly since the change of manager.
What Liverpool need next is some investment in strengthening the squad in the right places, with the right people, and without the kind of money that Manchester City’s owners make available Damien Comolli and the scouts will have their work cut out.