By The Numbers: Why Dalglish Had To Go

Did Kenny Dalglish deserve another year? Personally, I would have given him one but if you look at the numbers, which we know here in Boston is what John Henry and the FSG are all about, then it’s so apparent just how awful we have been this past year and so this decision is not without merit or reasoning. Personally, I think Liverpool should have given King Kenny another season — he saved us last year and while some of his signings have yet to repay him for the amount of money he spent to get them, I believe in time he would have gotten it right and restored Liverpool back to the top, where we belong.

That said, Dalglish has looked defeated of late and has appeared dejected in pre-game interviews and post-game conferences. Ever the optimist but always quick to point the finger elsewhere, whether it be the referee or the pitch or the crossbar or, more times than anything else this season, it was as simple as luck not being on our side for whatever reason. However, if I had to pick the moment it all started to fall apart, I’d say it was after we lost to Arsenal in injury time back in early March when a moment of pure brilliance by Robin Van Persie marked the beginning of the end for Liverpool, their season, and ultimately their greatest ever Red, Kenny.

Looking at the stats which I’m sure were popping off the page at Henry and Warner this past week:

  • 37 points behind Manchester City, and another 17 points behind Tottenham for the 4th place Champions League spot
  • 14 losses this year – same number of wins (14)
  • Starting back to the 2005/06 season, Liverpool had 4 seasons in a row with 20+ wins, compared to last three it’s gone down each season (18 in 09/10; 17 in 10/11; and just 14 in 11/12)
  •  47 goals scored versus 40 allowed
  • A +7 goal difference this year, compared to +15 last year, +26 in 09/10, +50 in 08/09 (which was the best in EPL that year), +39 in 07/08 and +30 in 06/07

Since January, Liverpool had only done better in the league than Aston Villa, Blackburn, and Wolves – and Bolton, Blackburn, and Wolves got relegated. If the league started on January 1st, Liverpool would have been in 17th place. Dalglish had a win percentage of just 26% in the league over the past 5 months. That was simply not good enough – this would have been more apparent to everyone if Liverpool didn’t win the Carling Cup or didn’t reached the FA Cup Final, both of which distracted fans from just how dismal Liverpool really were in 2012. The numbers don’t lie:

Liverpool were 10 points clear of Everton at the start of the year only for Everton to be the 5th best team in 2012 and finish 4 points above Liverpool. Wigan, who finished with the 9th most points earned since Jan. 1st, good for them – that’s legit but they’re always hovering near or around the relegation zone each season and Liverpool are looking to bring in their manager? Doesn’t this look familiar? Didn’t the same thing happen with Hodgson with Fulham two seasons ago where a mid-table finish coupled with a historic – some would argue – lucky run to the Europa Cup final, Liverpool fans were told Roy was the answer? Again, it’s all well and good when you’re a good manager at a mid-table, mediocre club like a Fulham or a Wigan but it takes a great manager to step into a club as big as Liverpool. Some have tried and failed, which could be said for most clubs, but Liverpool is not most clubs – the fans are the club. Personally, I’d go after Pepe Guardiola or Jose Mourinho or David Moyes (that will never happen though) but definitely not André Villas-Boas, or Roberto Martinez, and not even Rafa Benitez

As a fan of Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish one thing stood out about him – for all his medals, trophies, and honors he’s achieved both as a player and as a manager, it’s the manner in which he conducts himself in the trying times, the worst of times, and on two unforgettable occasions, the absolutely nightmarish of times. Yet, through it all, it was his class that shined through. He led by example through those difficult stages for not only the team and its supporters, but to the people of Liverpool and so many more people across the country, and the rest of the world. That class was shown again in the words he said about his dismissal and in the way he parted ways with the club he loves so much for the second time.

Yet, it’s actually Kenny himself who more than anyone else in our storied history who was come to embody what Liverpool Football Club is; loyal, passionate, resilient, honor and pride. To many, he is the heart and soul of this club – and he always will be. All he has ever wanted was for the good of the club, that’s been apparent since day one when he first graced Anfield so many years ago as a young boy from Scotland. And while it’s been said by others including the King himself, no one is bigger than the club… but if anyone was close, who would argue it would be him… other than maybe Kenny himself of course.

Niall Fahy is from Cork, Ireland and moved to Boston with my family in 1985. One of the original founding members of LFC Boston, he acts as liaison between LFC Boston and the Phoenix Landing.

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19 thoughts on “By The Numbers: Why Dalglish Had To Go

  1. Just a FYI. Bolton were better than LFC in 2012. Blackburn, Villa, and the Wolves were the only worse teams.

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    • Yes Bolton was, the finished 14th in 2012 compared to Liverpool’s 17th – I was only pointing out they were one of the three team relegated, and that Liverpool did better than two of those who went down.

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  2. Really great post, Niall. One of the few reasonable takes I’ve read, I would advise everyone on Twitter to read that and revisit their opinions. Like you, I would have been inclined to give Kenny one more year if only because I don’t think a year and a half is enough time to reap the benefits of any new manager’s work. In that time you’re either still a) benefiting from the previous manager’s success or b) paying the price for their mistakes. In this case, the latter.

    I also agree that the only way to go is to pay for a top notch, proven manager. If John Henry is somehow able to pry Pep Guardiola off of the beach he’s reserved for the next 12 months… wow.

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    • Cheers mate.
      To select anyone other than someone of Pepe’s caliber (like a Jose), would be a step backwards for the club, and if you’re gonna replace a legend like King Kenny, then we can go backwards – we need to leap forward with a pick that will make everyone else sit up and take notice.

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  3. Using the numbers is all very well, but isn’t that the reason we bought players like Downing, Henderson, etc. – how did that work out for us? You might be able to use Moneyball-style tactics to improve a baseball team but English football is quite a different animal. How many trophies did Bolton win this year – just relegation wasn’t it? By the way, looking forward to meeting some of you guys on the east coast trip, I just wish Kenny was going to be there.

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    • I agree with your sentiment here Mark but in this day and age, football is a results business and this is how our current owners work. I’m not saying Bolton is a superior club than Liverpool, think we both know that’s not the case. However, looking at the league form in 2012, Bolton won more points than we did – yet still ended up relegated, that was my point.
      Definitely come meet myself and the rest of the LFC Boston crew this summer, we’ll be camped out at AnTua Nua in Boston and a few spots down in Baltimore for sure.

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      • Will Do Niall. I think the most disappointing thing about all this is that I and many others believe that with another year Kenny may have done so much more and now we’re possibly in a position of starting the rebuild all over again. I am concerned that we may be having this very discussion at this time next year if the new boss doesn’t come up with the goods – square one yet again, it could go on for years at this rate. There comes a time when you have to have some patience and stick with the guy you appointed – it took Ferguson eight years to win the title for Man Utd – under FSG he probably would have been sacked and never have won all the trophies he has for the club. I worry a little that they just don’t understand English football and particularly Liverpool and I would love to know who is advising them – we all know what a minefield that is if you talk to the wrong people. Anyway, let’s hope we get the right person and the magic formula comes together and personally I hope whoever takes charge does it with Kenny’s team.

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        • Totally agree. Even if you look at AW at Arsenal, while they won the league in his second season, the following few years they didn’t win a thing, and of late have also missed out on silverware yet AW remains in charge because he’s the best man for the job. I think if KK was allowed another year, then those at Fenway Sports would have seen that. I’m not sure who is advising them about English football but they should have at least recognized to leave KK run the club and everything else would have fallen into place for us to be successful once again.
          I definitely think FSG needs to send a clear message when they finally appoint the new manager, a step back with someone without the right experience will not resonate with the club or us supporters.

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  4. dont’ think guardiola would ever come. just as mourinho would never. they all need a star player to work with, like a ronaldo or messi or neymar. Villas boas ideology fits with our current principles of young talent, the reason he lost his job at Chelsea. I think here our older players (Carragher and Gerrard) would be more supportive. Martinez does have any experience and wont succeed. He’ll be Hodgson 2.0.. The King is definitely any day better over Martinez! Please don’t disappoint us FSG!

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    • I think for the right money and control of the club operations like the academy, Pepe could be convinced – add to the fact its well know he’s a Liverpool fan, it might not be so unrealistic.

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  5. Management didn’t need Moneyball to fire King Kenny. How did the club perform in relation to its past Premier League performances? It was the first time Liverpool didn’t win more Premier league games than it lost. 14 league wins was LFC’s lowest ever; 8th place matched its lowest finish; its 47 goals was its lowest ever; it garnered its fewest points ever; its +7 goal difference was next to its worst. More importantly, in the new year, 2012, LFC earned fewer points than anyone except Blackburn Rovers and hapless Wolverhampton and only got 9 points from home matches! Only a point a match at Anfield! None of that requires esoteric evaluation. It’s readily recognizable as a substandard performance. The wheels came off the train. I greatly respect Kenny Dalglish. He is a great man and always will be, but something went wrong in 2012. In 2012, the team’s performance was worse than that of Roy Hodgson’s in his short time at Anfield. On the plus side, Kenny’s club won a cup and had a good run at a second. That impresses me, but, unfortunately, domestic cups and entry into the Europa league no longer have the luster they once possessed.
    Liverpool supporters have to bear some of the blame. Roy Hodgson wasn’t the man to lead Liverpool, partly because of his football strategies and tactics and partly because of his managerial small club past, but mostly because he was hired by the deadly duo of Gillett and Hicks. The animosity of LFC supporters towards Hodgson was such that his management could not be effective. Hodgson was fired because his position was untenable. Kenny got the call because he was the people’s choice and he got a new contract on the basis of having done reasonably well for the remainder of the 2010-11 season. Hodgson never got a fair chance to prove himself in his half season. King Kenny had a year and a half and his end was worse than Hodgson’s lamentable beginning. No one should complain that Kenny didn’t get a fair chance. John Henry looked at Kenny and concluded that he couldn’t get it done and that Kenny had a better opportunity than Roy. John Henry had a gun to his head when he originally hired Kenny and a new contract for Kenny was obligatory at the end of the 2010-11 season if supporter dissent was to be avoided. Fenway Sports Group took Kenny because he was the only item on the menu, not because they concluded that he was the best man for the job. Unfortunately and sadly, Kenny wasn’t the hero everyone wanted him to be. In any case, FSG lacked the football experience and confidence to overrule the choice of the people.
    I don’t know how much Moneyball there was in any of FSG’s decisions. My guess is that Fenway fired Comolli because they were unimpressed with his decisions as reputed Moneyball guru. In any case, the signing of Brendan Rodgers pushes Moneyball into the background. Rodgers is a young, dynamic, ambitious manager with a vision of how the game should be played. A future Director of Football, if there is one, will merely be an advisor, not the man in charge. The man in charge will be named Brendan and the team will be built to his specifications.
    One aspect of Rodgers, which must have impressed FSG, is his speaking ability. He knows what to say and how to say it. He should have no trouble dealing with the media. Kenny didn’t do well in the Suarez-Evra situation. Nobody did, including the potentates of the FA. Kenny’s inability to effectively deal with the situation may have been part of his second half problems. He seemed to have lost the thread after Suarez’ return. The charge of racism, even if unfounded and unproven, is deadly to LFC’s ambitions to return to glory through an overseas support base and overseas sponsorships. It needed a firmer and more forceful refutation than Kenny was capable of. Rodgers will speak forcefully and with authority as the voice of Liverpool.
    I wish Liverpool FC the best. Since I’ve only been following the club for a couple of seasons I can’t consider myself a supporter. In my 70s, I can take an interest, but it’s a little late to acquire the enthusiasm of a true supporter.

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    • It shows that you’ve only been supporting the club a couple of seasons – come back to this forum when you have more experience of Liverpool Football Club and their history. You can’t talk about football purely based on theory otherwise it would be easy to predict the league champions at the start of the season.

      One piece of advice – make your paragraphs shorter and space them better – it was hard reading and people lose interest.

      Liverpool won their first piece of silverware last season in six years – you might not think that’s as important in finishing fourth (for which you win nothing) but seeing trophies on the shelf is what football is about. Admittedly is was disappointing to finish eighth, but winning the League Cup (with all the games away against the likes of Chelsea, Stoke and Man City) and getting to the FA Cup Final and being extremely unlucky after having a good equaliser disallowed was a great thing – you cannot just dismiss those achievements and talk only of league form. I’m sure Swansea would have been more than happy with that, as the majority of the Premier League.

      Kenny was unfairly sacked but it’s time to change the record. I agree with Rodgers’ appointment but you talk like he has already won something – we haven’t even kicked a ball in anger yet – let’s see what happens – what will you be saying in a year’s time if we finish eight again?

      I don’t know where you’re from but in England the Premier League and the Champions League is not the be-all and end-all of everything – winning the domestic cups is something supporters love, especially the FA Cup. If you’ve ever lived there you would know – no disrespect to US fans but all your lives you have been brought on getting into play-offs and winning one major trophy for each sport – English football is not like that – every trophy has it’s place.

      Liverpool is the only British club that has ever dominated Europe for any length of time and that started with a UEFA Cup win in the early 70’s. Thanks to Kenny we are at least in Europe this year – if we win that it will be a good platform for European success.

      By the way, it’s never too late to “acquire the enthusiasm of a true supporter”!

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      • I’m looking at the situation from the same position as FSG. That may be the wrong, but I think that’s the way to look if you want to understand how FSG is going to behave.

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        • Depends if you assume that FSG know what they are doing and who they are taking advice from. You can’t work out how to win at British football like you work out how to win American sports – you need to understand all the other things that go into it – communities, history, supporters, ground atmosphere, etc. It’s not necessarily about brute force and physical fitness.

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          • What you say is true. However, FSG aren’t dumb. They try to pick the best management to achieve their objectives and don’t seem to interfere much.

            I think they realize the importance of history and community. In fact, the most salient feature of Liverpool FC’s recent history is that their success in the Premier League has not approached their previous success, and my opinion is that FSG want LFC restored to its pre-Premier glory.

            I have no inside knowledge or special insight except that I’ve watched John Henry and associates for a quite a while. I don’t always agree with FSG, but their main objective seems to aim for the top.

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    • Nobody’s blowing off the league, but you underestimate the importance of regularly winning trophies – finishing fourth doesn’t win you anything it just puts you in another tournament, which is not easy to win. Playing year in year out to finish in the top four at the cost of everything else is extremely boring. Supporters want trophies as much as European competition. I know what I would rather look at in a trophy room – actual trophies, not a list of fourth place finishes.

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      • You are right. Trophies are important. The Champions League has somewhat diminished their importance and in a sense made domestic trophies easier to win since the “big clubs” in the European tournaments can’t field their best team for every domestic cup match.

        While there are no cups in baseball, John Henry stated a number of times that the Red Sox goal is to make the playoffs every year. He probably has the goal of Liverpool being perpetually in the Champions League.

        Oddly Kenny Dalglish derided the Europa League but succeeded in gaining a place, and seemed to put more emphasis on the domestic competitions than reaching the Champions League. He may have felt that a top four finish was beyond reach and thus concentrated on the cup competitions.

        That’s okay IF FSG agreed that was the way to go. I don’t know if they did, given their major objective seems being in the top four.

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  6. Pingback: A New Beginning | The Red Letter

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