Kenny is staying, let the party begin.

Kenny Dalglish is the new permanent manager of Liverpool Football Club. The caretaker manager since January, Kenny is now back in his old job and has a three year contract to go with it. To say Liverpool fans are happy about that is an understatement along the lines of describing Tom Hicks and George Gillett as not being very good for LFC.

The news was revealed on the club’s official website just before Kenny’s regular weekly pre-match press-conference with those members of the media he sees each week. One of the worst-kept secrets since the club cut out the damaging off-record briefings we’d all grown tired of was that Kenny’s deal was agreed and would be announced at some point this weekend. Normally if there’s big news to be announced the club hold a press conference in front of the ‘big boys’ of the media but Kenny didn’t want that. He wanted to reward the lads he sees week in and week out at the normal press briefings to get this story and to ask the first questions.

Even that says a lot about the man. Whereas some managers will ban reporters for asking the difficult questions, even if it’s from their club’s own TV station, Kenny is spoken about warmly by all the reporters who speak to him on a regular basis. The ‘big boys’ missed out this time and although not all of them were by any means hostile towards him the one or two who suggested he should stick to golf might be glad they weren’t asked to come up here anyway on this occasion. Continue reading Kenny is staying, let the party begin.

Seven months on, now do they see?

In the days following the departure of Rafael Benitez the speculation was mounting about who the club would be bringing in as a replacement.

Already, after word had got out of his interest in the role, Kenny Dalglish was the fans’ favourite for the job – be it short-term until a change of owners or as a long-term role. At that time we’d not been given the full truth about how little time the owners had left to sell up or lose the club.

Kenny Returns - along with the smilesIt was quite clear that some of the fanciful ideas that had been put about by certain individuals agitating for a change of manager were nothing like the reality of the recruitment process that had now begun.

Despite some laughable reports, the club didn’t have the means to approach coaches of the standard (and pay-scale) of Jose Mourinho, not that many supporters genuinely believed they did in any case. And those that did wondered how the club could persuade a top-drawer coach to manage LFC at a time when the Reds were making more from transfer fees than they were spending. A time when the club was falling apart.

To supporters it seemed obvious what to do. But to the sections of the media that had campaigned for Rafa’s departure and were now campaigning for the appointment (and in later months the retention) of Roy Hodgson it wasn’t their idea so they mocked it at every opportunity. The club’s then executive management team said it didn’t fit in with their ideas, although they never really explained why.

Now Kenny has the job, belatedly, and the smiles on the faces of supporters tell you why this was such a good idea. The positivity and unity sweeping through the club now is the strongest it has been in a very long time.

If only the former board had listened to supporters last summer, instead of clamouring to the sections of the press that have nothing to do with Liverpool FC. Nothing to do with us other than criticising us, or complaining when they borrow (and break) our players for their England national side.
Continue reading Seven months on, now do they see?

A kip, then we take on the world. Kenny’s back.

As Liverpool supporters around the world were celebrating the news that The King was coming back to manage their club, the man himself was flying back from the Middle East in readiness to take that job on.

Kenny Dalglish - BackWith Liverpool just four points above relegation it was clear to anyone with their eyes open that Roy Hodgson had failed in his task.

The owners had been hoping that Hodgson would have it in him to keep the club ticking over until they found his permanent replacement, but as results continued to be a long way from good enough his comments were making it increasingly difficult to keep him in his post.

They clearly needed a caretaker to step in and run the team until they had a permanent replacement available. There really wasn’t a better candidate than Kenny Dalglish and he was appointed from a distance, on his holiday, but there was only ever going to be one answer from the man who lives for this football club.

As he landed at Manchester airport tonight he was mobbed by reporters and photographers, including the Sky Sports News cameras.

Sky asked him if he had a message for the supporters: “Just it’s a great honour to be asked to come back,” he said, with cameras flashing away noisily enough to almost drown out his words.
Continue reading A kip, then we take on the world. Kenny’s back.

Liverpool FC managers: Stat Attack

Ivan Potapov, of Russian Liverpool FC fansite has produced an in-depth comparison of the performances of Liverpool managers past and present.

As I wrote before for Russian-speaking supporters, I had been very sceptical to Roy Hodgson since I heard he would be appointed as a manager of Liverpool FC for the first time. It seemed really obvious for me he wasn’t good enough to be a manager for the club like ours, and his experience meant nothing because he was a flop with two big names he tried to manage.

Unfortunately for us my expectations were finally met when he began to work with Liverpool FC. It’s just half a year passed but we reached some lows we didn’t reach for some fifty years. Graeme Souness, probably the worst manager we had since Don Welsh, did much better in some areas than Roy did. But some people try to defend Hodgson even now when some stats for the fifty years were brought to light by one of the Daily Post journos.

They say it’s not fair to compare Roy with others because: 1. he’s been there just for half a year; 2. his work is in progress; he managed Liverpool for 30 games not hundreds of them as other managers did. Okay then, it’s time for me to suggest my little statistical overview started from December 1959. I tried to compare our managers and hoped I could find out how each of them started here at Liverpool FC. Each “period” covers just first 19 league games (or first 30 games in all competitions) for every manager. It’s fair to Hodgson, isn’t it?

My overview has its weaknesses (what doesn’t?) but I’ve tried to reduce them. For those managers who began their work in mid-season I decided to use not only a beginning of their careers but the beginning of their full season at the club as well. And for Bill Shankly, who began his work when our club languished in the second tier of English football and won the old Second Division with us in 1962, the first 30(19) games of his third full season at the club were added. For some observers who blamed Benitez for everything he did I added the beginning of 2009/2010 season, our worst as we thought at the time.

I marked extreme values with colors – green for the best and red for the worst.

First 19 league games

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 19 7 4 8 23 24 36,84%
Rafael Benitez 19 9 4 6 33 20 47,36%
Rafael Benitez* 19 9 3 7 36 25 47,36%
Gerard Houllier** 19 10 4 5 28 16 52,63%
Gerard Houllier*** 19 8 4 7 38 27 42,1%
Evans/Houllier + Houllier**** 19 8 4 7 32 23 42,1%
Roy Evans***** 19 9 6 4 34 18 47,36%
Roy Evans****** 19 8 2 9 26 24 42,1%
Graeme Souness^ 19 8 8 3 22 15 42,1%
Graeme Souness^^ 19 8 6 5 26 18 42,1%
Kenny Dalglish 19 12 5 2 42 18 63,15%
Joe Fagan 19 12 4 3 33 14 63,15%
Bob Paisley 19 10 4 5 25 14 52,63%
Bill Shankly^^^ 19 7 4 8 31 27 36,84%
Bill Shankly^^^^ 19 11 4 4 39 25 57,89%
Bill Shankly^^^^^ 19 10 4 5 42 29 52,63%

First 30 games in all competitions

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 30 13 9 8 40 30 43,33%
Rafael Benitez 30 15 6 9 47 25 50%
Rafael Benitez* 30 13 5 12 36 25 43,33%
Gerard Houllier** 30 17 5 8 50 27 56,66%
Gerard Houllier*** 30 12 5 13 54 41 40%
Evans/Houllier + Houllier**** 30 13 7 10 54 35 43,33%
Roy Evans***** 30 18 7 5 56 23 60%
Roy Evans****** 30 15 4 11 50 36 50%
Graeme Souness^ 30 14 10 6 48 27 46,66%
Graeme Souness^^ 30 14 9 7 50 30 46,66%
Kenny Dalglish 30 19 7 4 65 27 63,33%
Joe Fagan 30 18 8 4 53 19 60%
Bob Paisley 30 15 9 6 49 20 50%
Bill Shankly^^^ 30 15 6 9 56 37 50%
Bill Shankly^^^^ 30 15 7 8 62 44 50%
Bill Shankly^^^^^ 30 16 6 8 60 41 53,33%
  • Roy Hodgson (July 1st 2010 – Jan 1st 2011): 19 Premier League, 6 Europa League, 4 Europa League qual., 1 League Cup.
  • Rafael Benitez (July 1st – Dec 26th 2004): 19 Premier League, 6 Champions League, 2 Champions League qual., 3 League Cup.
  • Rafael Benitez (July 1st – Jan 13th 2010): 20 PL, 6 CL, 2 FAC, 2 LC.
  • Gerard Houllier (July 1st 1999 – Feb 13th 2000): 25 PL, 2 FAC, 3 LC.
  • Gerard Houllier (Nov 12th 1998 – May 16th 1999): 26 PL, 2 FAC, 2 UEFA.
  • Evans/Houllier + Gerard Houllier (July 1st 1998 – Jan 9th 1999): 21 PL, 6 UEFA, 1 FAC, 2 LC.
  • Roy Evans (July 1st 1994 – Jan 14th 1995): 24 PL, 1 FAC, 5 LC.
  • Roy Evans (Jan 31 1994 – Oct 29 1994): 27 PL, 3 LC.
  • Graeme Souness (Jul 1 1991 – Dec 18 1991): 19 1D, 6 UEFA, 5 LC.
  • Graeme Souness (Apr 16th 1991 – Nov 30 1991): 21 1D, 5 UEFA, 4 LC.
  • Kenny Dalglish (July 1 1985 – Dec 26 1985): 23 1D, 4 LC, 3 Screensport Super Cup.
  • Joe Fagan (July 1 1983 – Dec 22 1983): 18 1D, 4 EC, 7 LC, Charity Shield.
  • Bob Paisley (July 1st 1974- Dec 14 1974): 21 1D, 4 EC, 4 LC, Charity Shield.
  • Bill Shankly (July 1 1962 – Mar 5 1963): 27 1D, 3 FAC.
  • Bill Shankly (July 1 1960 – Jan 21 1961): 26 2D, 3 LC, 1 FAC.
  • Bill Shankly (Dec 1 1959 – Sep 3 1960): 28 2D, 2 FAC.

Obviously Hodgson’s statistics could be catastrophic but he was “saved” by the Europa League. Liverpool were drawn against Macedonian and Turkish minnows in the preliminary rounds, so we cruised past them.

But in league games the statistics look awful. Half a season passed with him winning less games than any Liverpool manager in his first season according to the table above. He almost reached an all time low with the number of goals we scored (23 against 22 for Souness) and lost almost as many games as Evans did in his first 19 matches (but Evans was appointed in mid season). And Hodgson is the only Liverpool manager with a negative goal difference after 19 league games; Souness did better than him!

Some of Hodgson’s defenders cry for time. “Give him some time and he will turn us into a real force,” they yell. But I cannot agree. He has great players in his squad, not Zamoras or Hangemanns, but they’re really good footballers and he had time he needed to fix his own mistakes but he didn’t. There was a period in Liverpool history when we changed the manager who worked even less than Hodgson. I don’t mean Ronnie Moran or Phil Thompson who were asked to fill the gap when Dalglish resigned and later Souness and Houllier couldn’t manage because of their health.

We had joint managers, Evans and Houllier, and the idea didn’t look good from the start. They couldn’t work together and eventually Evans resigned in November 1998. I decided to compare statistics for Evans/Houllier’s 18 games (12 in PL) with the same stat for Hodgson. And the first 18(12) games of the 2009/2010 season were added because it was a “catastrophe”, wasn’t it?

Roy Hodgson vs Evans/Houllier (in all competitions)

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 18 8 6 4 23 18 44,44%
Evans/Houllier 18 7 6 5 33 20 38,88%
Rafael Benitez 18 8 2 8 32 25 44,44%

Roy Hodgson vs Evans/Houllier (league)

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 12 4 4 4 13 15 33,33%
Evans/Houllier 12 4 4 4 19 14 33,33%
Rafael Benitez 12 6 1 5 27 18 50%
  • Evans/Houllier (July 1 1998 – Nov 12 1998): 12 PL, 2 LC, 4 UEFA.
  • Roy Hodgson (July 1 2010 – Oct 31 2010): 10 PL, 3 EL, 1 LC, 4 EL qual. Liverpool played their 12th league game under Hodgson on November 11 2010.
  • Rafael Benitez (July 1 2009 – Nov 9 2009): 12 PL, 2 LC, 4 CL.

Houllier and Evans failed in 1998, Benitez failed in 2009, but what about Hodgson? What about goals scored? What about goal difference? Did Liverpool play under him better than under Benitez just a year ago? Benitez won 50% of his league games but Hodgson won just a third of them.

You can do whatever you want with statistics. It’s just about numbers. But I can give you an answer to the main question we ask ourselves every morning and noon: Is Roy Hodgson the right man for the job? The answer is obvious.


*1 2 Statistics for Rafael Benitez at the beginning of the 2009/2010 season, the worst for the Spaniard at Liverpool FC
**1 2 Gerard Houllier statistics at the beginning of his first full season at the club (1999/2000)
***1 2 Gerard Houllier statistics from the point when he became the sole manager of the club (Nov 12 1998)
****1 2 Statistics for the beginning of the season 1998/1999, which we started with the Evans/Houllier duo as our managers. To match the number of matches I added some games of the season after Evans’ resignation.
*****1 2 Statistics for Roy Evans, since his first full season at the club (1994/1995) began.
******1 2 Statistics for Roy Evans from the moment when he became a manager (Jan 31 1994).
^1 2 Statistics for Graeme Souness from the beginning of his first full season (1991/1992).
^^1 2 Statistics for Graeme Souness from the point when he became manager (Apr 16 1991).
^^^1 2 Statistics for Bill Shankly at the beginning of his first season in the First Division (1962/1963).
^^^^1 2 Statistics for Bill Shankly at the beginning of his first full season (1960/1961)
^^^^^1 2 Statistics for Bill Shankly from the point when he became manager (Dec 1 1959).

Ivan Potapov,

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ingumsky.

Reports: Kenny could become caretaker

According to an exclusive report in today’s Sunday Telegraph, Liverpool FC look set to remove Roy Hodgson from his position as Liverpool manager before they have appointed a permanent replacement. Kenny Dalglish may well get to take over until that appointment is made, probably in the summer.

The King, KennyThe future of Hodgson as Reds boss was never going to be decided on the back of one result or one set of comments, but the comments he made in the aftermath of the defeat against Wolves in midweek, along with the defeat itself, seem to have hastened a departure that had already been planned.

On Friday it emerged that Fenway Sports Group (FSG, formerly NESV) had started to search in earnest for a successor to the former Fulham boss. The message was that Roy would be replaced as soon as a suitable candidate could be brought in and that although this could take until the end of the season it would definitely be happening as soon as possible.

In the meantime, however, the suggestion was that FSG continued to have sufficient faith in him to manage the club until that replacement was found. Tonight’s report suggests they no longer have even that much faith in him and will install a temporary manager to look after the club for the rest of the season.

Soon after FSG had taken over the club indications were made very quietly that they didn’t see Hodgson, already struggling, as a long-term incumbent.

That said, they no doubt hoped that Roy could at least do what Martin Broughton had suggested he could the day he was unveiled as manager and “steady the ship”. They announced a search was underway for a new CEO; they publicly gave Roy their backing.

A director of football strategy was appointed, but Roy continued to enjoy the support of the club’s hierarchy. Fans were going out of their way to send out the message that they’d no faith in Roy and weren’t even keen on him keeping the job short term, but the club did all they could to show their backing for him.

This backing appeared to weaken when FSG’s two main men, the LFC chairman Tom Werner and principal owner John W Henry appeared on the club’s official TV channel. Speaking about the hugely disappointing result against Newcastle the owners described Liverpool’s results as “unacceptable”.

There was disappointment to follow for supporters that same week. A meaningless Europa League match against Utrecht had been given some significance thanks to a gesture that saw free tickets being made available for children. Hodgson announced Torres would be playing and although an otherwise youthful line-up was expected the assumption was that the side would be sent out to entertain the young supporters making their first or rare visits to Anfield for a match.

Torres didn’t appear, Hodgson suggesting the medical staff had told him late in the day that Torres should be rested. Not just that, the team came out to defend, entertainment was a word nobody used to describe the game.

Bad weather meant Liverpool’s next two league games didn’t take place and so the next game was against Wolves, the match on Wednesday night that saw Hodgson question the support of Liverpool fans. Hodgson was forced to apologise.

A win yesterday against Bolton saw Liverpool move into ninth place, still only six points above relegation with Hodgson suggesting afterwards that he’d have been happy with a draw.

Now the Sunday Telegraph’s report says FSG “are so determined to end Roy Hodgson’s reign” that they are ready to install a caretaker manager until June, when they hope to install the permanent replacement. Dalglish has already made it clear he would jump at the chance of taking on the manager’s role if asked and the report says this news raises “the prospect of an emotional return to the club for Kenny Dalglish”.

Dalglish had put himself forward for the role in the summer, and with the club’s management team at the time fully aware that there were just over three months left before the club had to change hands (even if it meant going into the hands of the bank) it is yet to be explained exactly why Dalglish’s offer was ignored, why Roy was given a three-year contract or why there was actually vacancy in the first place.

The report also says FSG are believed to have looked at various candidates for the role, including Porto manager Andre Villas Boas and the previously-linked Didier Deschamps of Marseille.

Installing the appropriate choice now, mid-season, is likely to be problematic and expensive, but it seems that FSG’s lack of confidence in the current manager means they want someone else to fill in for now and steady the ship in readiness for the permanent appointment.

It goes without saying that The King would walk into the job with the unconditional support of the fans and also that he would be a unifying presence in the role, at a club where divide continues to cause harm.