Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Dalglish Sacking

As much as there were plenty of signs that it was coming, I was genuinely surprised by the news that Dalglish had been sacked as Liverpool manager. I had a brief rummage through blog posts and looked at what I'd said when he was appointed, and I feel that the fairly mixed stance I had then is pretty much what I have now.

To be honest, I feel I can justify a mixed stance given that it's been a pretty mixed season. In the two cup competitions we've been in this season we've finished as winners and runners-up, and that's a fair amount of success given the dire straights we were in when Dalglish took over. That said, the league position is dire, and there's no real hiding from the fact that we've finished 17 points off 4th place, and it's not even worth counting the points away from the title. Admittedly, in the last few months of the season we've had little chance of 4th place and as a result have probably allowed the cup competitions to distract us, but that still doesn't change the fact that fairly solid spending over the summer hasn't been able to produce the results week-in, week-out.

I use the world results, because having watched a solid majority of the games this season I feel that the performances have largely been there, and the results happen. The issue is that while performing well, creating a ton of chances and just failing to convert them in front of goal can be settled by "we were unlucky" for each individual game, when it's happening long-term it suggests that something bigger is up. There were plenty of games this season where Liverpool played some superb football and didn't come away with a result, and it's only the latter aspect that history is really going to remember. We were only one solid finisher away from a very good season, but that's a problem in the squad that Dalglish should have identified and resolved properly (or maybe Carroll just fucked him over by being so goal-shy).

That said, I don't feel that Dalglish has done a horrific job in his first full season in charge. The performances have been good, even if the results haven't, and two cup finals isn't something to just ignore. And whilst our league performance in the second half of the season has been pretty abysmal, the same could be said of Spurs, who have bombed in a similar fashion from where they were in January, it just so happens that they started high enough up to just about cling onto 4th place. But Spurs will be in the Champions League next season, and in a world where clubs are run as businesses that makes a big difference, because that's £30m a year that Liverpool won't be seeing next season.

My main sort of gripe with the Dalglish sacking is that I don't feel that there's any candidate that really leaps out as being the replacement. Villa-Boas is a possibility, and I feel he was a little hard done at Chelsea given the squad he inherited and the lack of support he seemed to get from the higher-ups there, but I'm not entirely sure he'd be a good fit. Plus he has very little actual track-record as a manager, with really only one successful season at Porto to his name. Roberto Martinez seems to be the media favourite, and I'm not sure that he'd really be a great replacement either. He did a decent job at Swansea and has done so at Wigan so far (well, 15th), but I don't really feel he'd necessarily be an actual step up from Dalglish.

My personal favourite for the job would be to re-hire Benitez in the role, though even with the seemingly generous amount of fans supporting this idea I'm sceptical it could ever actually happen. At the very least the Fenway guys have said they want someone who will manage for the next 5-6 years, which I'll take with a pinch of salt but at the very least would suggest that we're not heading towards the same problem that Chelsea have (and Real Madrid had until recently) of cycling through managers at a rate of knots unless they produce instant results.

I don't feel particularly outraged by Dalglish being removed from his post, and I'd be surprised if many fans will, but I do think that there's definitely a possibly to pick someone who won't actually do any better, and I feel that's where the danger lies in this position. The fact that there are apparently no front-runners for the role is something I take a slight bit of issue with, because I feel that the sacking is a tad unnecessary, or at least premature, if they don't already have someone pretty well lined up for the role.

Still, time will tell, and given I doubt the transfer budget for the summer was going to be particularly big anyway, they've got a reasonable amount of time to find a replacement. I just sort of hope that it's not Martinez.