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Say the Right Thing: The Manager


Certainly it's been an implicit theme under Kenny Dalglish, and it's been mentioned in passing on occasion, but taking the time to explicitly and thoroughly state it seems long overdue: he's kind of good with the whole saying the right thing thing when he talks to the media. Which is kind of a change--and a rather stark one at that--when compared to a certain former manager with thirty-five years experience at top clubs around Europe who will remain nameless because really, he's suffered enough. And we've suffered enough, too.

It's quickly become easy to take for granted that our new old manager will say the right thing without fail, will toy with annoying questioners, will always do his best to put the club first and not look to blame others and lower expectations. In fact, it's slipped us all back so quickly into a world where the manager of Liverpool Football Club says exactly what the manager of Liverpool Football club is supposed to say that it's hard to remember just how easy it is to screw things up in that position. So, before we all start to take it entirely for granted, a few words from the man in charge post-Chelsea seem in order, if only to remind us how difficult it would be to construct any kind of Tuesdays With Roy head shaking narrative bullshittery with the current manager.

And now I've gone and mentioned that certain former manager with thirty-five years experience at top clubs around Europe, which just goes to show how easy it is to slip up and say something daft and unbecoming, even when you're just some dumb blogger with no real pressure not to say something daft and unbecoming...

"As this club has always said," he said, "the most important people are the people who are at Liverpool Football Club. That's the way they approached the game.

"Our incentive was to get three points and that's what we did. Whatever someone wants to do with their life, that's entirely their choice"

And I'd say he's spot on, of course. Not to mention that he's rising above any show of pettiness that your average fan might be able to get away with. Which is nice, since it allows me to feel all warm and fuzzy about how he's above it all while having one last (maybe) snarky point and laugh at a certain Spanish striker and really this time I won't mention the guy's name who was a complete non-entity on Sunday.

"That's four clean sheets in a row now and 12 points. Everybody who has got any favour towards Liverpool will be very happy at the moment."

And he's right. And I am happy. I suspect damn near everybody in Liverpool land is, too. A part of me does wonder if it would be bad form, with Wigan and West Ham ahead in the League, to start salivating over the chance of six clean sheets in a row to match the clean sheets accumulated by Hodgson across his entire twenty league games.

Meanwhile I've mentioned him again, and once again shown myself to be a petty bastard ill suited to manage a top flight side. Though it's likely my tendency to be a petty bastard isn't the only thing standing in the way of that happening.

"I don't think it was unconventional," he said in response to questions about three at the back. "What's unconventional about it? We'll always set our team up to suit our team best of all, but at the same time we'll always pay respect to the opposition and take into account what they can do.

"I think the players enjoyed the system. I'm not trying to be clever, I'm not trying to be a tactical genius--I'm trying to get the best out of the players.

"It's four games now and we've played different systems and got no goals against. That's not down to any system--it's down to them and their great pride and work and fantastic respect for this football club."

And I don't think he's being entirely fair to himself or the rest of his coaching staff, but in seeking to deny any rightful credit for a tactical master-stroke on the road against a clicking Chelsea he's again putting the team, the squad, the club ahead of himself and any personal glory. It seems as though it should be difficult, and for many it is, but the best managers always seem able to fully suppress their ego to spread the praise while at the same time being there to shoulder the bulk of the blame should things start to go wrong.

There are always, I suppose, successful exceptions. There's always the self-proclaimed Special One, of course. But even the supposedly brilliant egomaniac is, after the benefit of a bottomless chequebook at Chelsea--where he still never managed to nab the prize coveted by owner Abramovic above all others--and Inter, looking quite poor in comparison to the much more mild mannered man who came before him at Real Madrid and was forced to deal with much tougher circumstances. In any case, he's not fit to manage a club like Liverpool, so enough of this tangent.

"I'm only doing what I said I would do," he said. "Coming in to help. I'll never stand in the way of progress at this football club. I've never had a conversation beyond the one I had at the beginning. That's where I stand at the minute."

And I rather suspect a great many are starting to think that that progress, that way forward, involves Kenny Dalglish staying on as manager beyond just this season.

"Our ambition is to beat Wigan next Saturday," he said, keeping it simple when asked of the club's ambitions for the remainder of the season.

And I'll be watching, hopeful once again, and even starting to dream of fourth place finishes safe in the knowledge that the manager knows well enough to leave that dreaming to the fans and followers and supporters while he and the players get on with worrying about just the next match. As it should be.

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