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Has Anybody Said "Return of the King" Yet? Roundup

The Return of the King

On Saturday morning I woke up hungover and not expecting any news on Roy Hodgson until Monday (that's today!) at the earliest. Coffee seemed like a chore and I figured Ed wouldn't have the preview up for a couple of hours, but hey, it was about time for La Liga matches to start popping up so why not turn on the computer and HOLY SHIT ROY HODGSON'S BEEN FIRED AND ED'S IMPLYING I'LL SAY SOMETHING BEFORE THE PREVIEW RUNS AND OW MY HEAD.

So while the rest of the world was busy cheering the return of King Kenny, I scrambled to make something of a half-remembered Hodgson obituary I'd sorted in my head after Blackburn but didn't bother writing ahead of time on the assumption change wasn't immanent. Apparently this is why newspapers have thousands of pre-written obits for various celebrities and public figures ready to go at all times. Apparently too, most other places were going with that whole upbeat rebirth celebration thing. No, I'm not a morbidly pessimistic person. Why do you ask?

* It's really no surprise that the most consistently laudable voice from the sports pages kicks things off by saying that Liverpool has finally seen sense by making the switch, and on the whole Dion Fanning (who else?) delivers a just fantastically thorough piece that's a history lesson, recent retrospective, and look to the future. If you read one article on Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish returning (like a king) to manage Liverpool Football Club, make it this one (plus other similarly overblown and hyperbolic statements to that effect):

Dalglish was 34-years-old when he was appointed Liverpool's player-manager. He was too young. The two jobs were too much for one man. He had no experience. All these arguments made perfect sense.

He took over in the aftermath of the shame of Heysel and led the club to two league titles. He made it look easy, which is the hardest thing of all.

Then came Hillsborough. He was a young man and an inexperienced manager in a haunted land without a map. He instinctively knew what to do in a time that was bewildering for its lack of sense. He suffered but considered his suffering trivial compared to the grief of others. They never forgot that in a celtic city where not forgetting is part of the honour code.

Dalglish always understood that code and he understands it now. Liverpool needed that after a manager whose very appointment was a statement of the mutual incomprehension that existed between the club and its fans.

It really is a phenomenal piece, even by Fanning's typically high standards, and since I can hardly quote the whole thing you'd best just go and read it now.

* Over at Well Red, the focus is on the hope and unity brought to a fractured club and fanbase by Dalglish's return. Also up for discussion is the disdain for the switch from some London media types:

It also displays ignorance on behalf of most of those sneering. Hodgson was not hounded out. Liverpool fans have not lost their class. The manager signed his own death warrant. The signings, the football, the results, the public speaking--none of it was up to scratch. Neither was the track record. There was nothing to suggest things would get better--money or no money.

Many of those knocking the decision to fire Hodgson ignore why he was appointed in the first place (and by who). It seems pointing the finger at fans and questioning the owners makes for a better story.

Which brings me back to unity. Dalglish offers the chance for the manager, the players and the fans to push in one direction. If the media want to knock that, if rival fans want to label us, let them--we know the truth. The decision made sense, the decision is logical.

All I can say is good. If the Patrick Barclays of the world and whichever "experts" are trotting tired lines out on SkySports this week are against Liverpool again then it can only be a good thing. After all, we all saw what happened when Christian Purslow did his best to appease them. One can only hope that some portion of the fanbase that ever actually gave a damn what they thought has learned a thing or two from the past six months.

* Meanwhile, Nate chimes in on the "brilliant day" that was Saturday and he too takes time to address talk of it being a foolishly sentimental appointment. Also, there's a statistical parting look at Hodgson, for those tired of reading all these long words and... stuff.

The comparisons to Kevin Keegan and Newcastle are facile and wrong-headed. Yes, Dalglish hasn't managed in more than a decade, but his record at Liverpool, Blackburn, and even Newcastle was light years better than Keegan's with the Geordies, Fulham, England, and Manchester City. Dalglish has won the league title four times, with two separate clubs. Keegan finished runner-up twice, and won Division One (the current Championship) twice. Liverpool's current squad, despite the recent trouble, is far better than the relegated Newcastle team.

So you're saying there's a chance... that we won't be relegated? Sign me up.

* Elsewhere, The Guardian needs to fire whoever came up with this gem of a headline: Reign of King Kenny II as Liverpool go back for their future. In fairness things do quickly get better, and if you can get past the top of the page without having your brain turned to goo by that mumble-jumble and the dismissive lede that immediately follows, there's a solid overview to be found which provides a nice bookend with the earlier Fanning piece:

John W Henry and his team may not consider Dalglish a viable long-term appointment. The previous owners obviously did not endorse this quest when Benítez left. If they had, they would have handed him the keys back in July. More fool them, Dalglish's supporters would say. Their man experienced the deep pain of rejection but elected to stay on anyway as an academy fixer while becoming an unwilling focus for anti-Hodgson unrest...

It helps, of course, that he is a living deity who knows the precise state of the academy and its starlets. This should not be underestimated. If Liverpool are serious about Moneyball--the clever use of baseball statistics in order to obtain value-for-money-players that was the title of a book by Michael Lewis--and self-regeneration it helps to have a manager who knows which of the reserves and under-18s might step up to help...

Of course there's some distressed flopping around from the likes of Winter and the like who variously shoved Rafa out/brought Roy in/snickered at suggestions of Dalglish over the past few months, but in the spirit of trying to stay positive for the next five minutes I'm going to just pretend they don't exist. In the meantime, while we're all basking in the general upbeatedness of triple-word-scores, and with a tip of the hat to Paisley Gates for unintentionally jogging my memory...

p.s.: Your phrase of day of yesterday is, "Return of the King Kenny Dalglish Return of the King Kenny Dalglish Return of the King Kenny Dalglish." Though one doubts that it will get into the top thousand hits over on teh Googles. Maybe if I mention something about a Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler sex tape? Are there any rumours about one of those existing? No? Well, there are now...

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