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Weekend Guest Post: Supporting the Manager

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**This weekend's guest post comes from Chris, who's been with us a long time in the comments section as Galahad Threepwood. He tackles questions of blind faith, looking at why being able to ask questions is a key part of supporting any manager, no matter how much you might like and trust him. You can find him on Twitter as LFCAustin **

The summer transfer window is a difficult time to be a Liverpool supporter. There’s very little accurate information available, and a lot has to be taken on faith. It’s especially difficult after the season we just went through. We’ve experienced every possible emotion, it seems, and now hopes are high that a new crop of signings will carry us back to the Champions League next year. Kenny Dalglish is very much key to those hopes. His confidence and ebullient personality were a huge part of the transformation that brought the Reds to the brink of European competition after flirting with relegation. It’s no surprise that so many fans have taken him to their hearts and are determined to trust him no matter what.

Unfortunately, this loyalty and trust can make it hard for us to evaluate Kenny’s decisions honestly and effectively. When, for instance, rumors were rife that the club was showing a lot of interest in Charlie Adam, some supporters were skeptical. They pointed out that while Adam had a definite upside, he also had significant flaws, and they said we should be cautious about giving our wholehearted approval to bringing him to Liverpool.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those skeptics. I still think Charlie Adam would be surplus to requirements if he came to LFC, especially since we already have two effective midfield playmakers in Raul Meireles and Alberto Aquilani. Now the skeptics could very well be wrong—there’s certainly room for debate. But I was surprised by how many supporters declined to engage the arguments against Adam, and instead insisted that we should suspend judgment about anyone that Liverpool was planning to bring in simply because Kenny was in charge. The idea was that it if King Kenny wanted a player that should be enough. Questions were unnecessary, and were seen by some fans as a sign of disloyalty. For those fans, it seemed, support for the manager meant unquestioning faith in him.

I love the King as much as anyone, but I disagree that the best way to support him is to have complete faith in him and ask no questions. The great thing about LFC supporters is they love their club and take a personal involvement in it. We saw this when a courageous group of supporters mobilized to drive a bad pair of owners out into the street. And, just as importantly, we saw it when love for the club and fear for its future led a growing number of fans to question the terrible decisions Roy Hodgson was making as manager. Those supporters didn’t just take Roy on faith because of his vaunted “35 years of success," but rather analyzed his tactics and pointed out what was wrong with them.

Of course it was easier to criticize Roy because he wasn’t a Red. Over and over, he made it clear that Liverpool’s traditions weren’t his traditions, Liverpool’s attitudes weren’t his attitudes, and Liverpool’s fans were unworthy of his respect. Kenny, of course, is as Red as it gets, and it’s tempting to give him a free pass for that reason. But if we really care about the club, that’s just what we can’t do. I think there are two reasons why it’s important to keep Kenny accountable.

The first reason is our commitment to the club demands it. If the manager signs the wrong players, employs the wrong tactics, or exemplifies the wrong attitude, he doesn’t just make a fool of himself, he hurts Liverpool too. We all know Roy could have set the club back decades if he’d been left to his own devices. But it’s not just managers like Roy who can cause problems. Well-loved managers with long-term connections to LFC can create setbacks if they know their decisions will be accepted without question. We all want the best for Liverpool, and we owe it to the club to speak up if we think the manager (or anyone connected with Liverpool) is making the wrong decision.

The second reason is that we love Kenny and we want him to do well, and the best way to ensure that is to keep him honest. We already see this in everyday life. If you have a friend who’s making a bad choice, you’re not really supporting him if you let him keep going in the wrong direction—you’re actually helping him self-destruct. Even though it hurts, if you care about him, you’ll call him out. I think the same is true of the way we deal with Kenny. He’s the manager, of course, and in the end we have limited influence in what he does. But if we really want the best for him, we’ll speak up when we think he’s made a mistake.

Kenny is a great manager and a great Red, but he’s not infallible. If I think he’s put his foot wrong, I think it’s my responsibility as a Liverpool supporter to call him on it. We owe it to the manager, and the club, to keep his feet to the fire. No one person is bigger than Liverpool Football Club, and because of that, no Liverpool manager’s decisions are above reproach. Not even if that manager is our beloved Kenny Dalglish.