The King is gone, long live the King
This is a sad end for Kenny Dalglish but ultimately he can have no complaints.
In March I was of the opinion that he should be given one further season to put the club back on track. I still think that would've been a fair assessment but the way the team lifelessly trudged through the remaining months of April and May meant that changes were inevitable.
It never worked this season and it never looked like working. For all the talk about progress and ship-steadying the last 12 months have seen us unquestionably take a step backwards. The problems began immediately with a woeful home draw to Sunderland and it never improved from there.
Some fans are of the opinion that one bad season doesn't mean the end of the world, a thought process which never ceases to amaze me. How can an entire season be dismissed as a bad day at the office?! New lows were reached in this chronic campaign and anyone but Dalglish would arguably have been sacked by Christmas. The Carling Cup success was almost nullified by an excruciating first hour of the FA Cup Final, and the appalling league records that have been broken speak for themselves. Furthermore the way the Suarez/Evra affair was handled brought enormous shame on the club and made us a laughing stock across the globe. It's not exactly easy to gloss over this kind of stuff.
So it came down to a straight forward choice for FSG. Do they persevere with Dalglish for one more season or cut their losses and start afresh? They opted for the latter and while some might argue this shows some signs of impatience, I have no problem with the decision they've taken. There are no quick fixes in football which I'd like to think they acknowledge, but on the simplest of levels the results AND performances this season, individually and collectively, have been completely unacceptable.
It's also worth bearing in mind that FSG never wanted Kenny Dalglish in the first place. He was seen as an interim appointment in January 2011 and one to get the fans onside. However to a certain extent this backfired with them eventually surrendering to the overwhelming clamour for Dalglish to be given the job on a permanent basis. I'd like to think that FSG will have learned a valuable lesson from this and realise that the club needs to look forward and not back.
If you think about it, it's actually been quite a while since Liverpool FC were in this position. Hodgson, although he will deny it, was a short-term appointment charged with the task of keeping the club ticking over while new owners were sought. Similarly, Dalglish was given a temporary role which, with hindsight, should probably have been just that. The time has come for someone who is in for the long haul.
With all the ship-steadying that's gone on over the last two years we still find ourselves in surprisingly choppy waters. Dalglish has not exactly made it easy for the new man. Not only a new manager, but also a director of communication, a director of football and possibly a new MD must be brought in as we start from scratch.
I'm pretty sure that FSG want a young manager with fresh ideas and this is something that the club has been desperately in need of for years. The names have already been bandied about and I'm treating each one with a relatively open mind. It's an enormous task for whoever comes in and they must realise the pressure and expectations will not be like anything they have ever experienced before.
I don't want to be too mawkish in wishing Dalglish well. He'll always be loved at the club no matter what, and deep down he knows this season was unacceptable. Whether his divorce from FSG was amicable or not he'll always be a saint in this city.
At present Liverpool FC stands on the precipice of an Aston Villa-esque existence. We've reached a point now where the club starts taking steps forward as opposed to pining over the past. If anything Dalglish was a hindrance in that respect and while this puts massive pressure on FSG to make the next move a successful one, we should look at this as an exciting new start (again) for Liverpool FC.