Kenny Dalglish makes a dramatic return to management on Sunday when he leads Liverpool against Manchester United in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford.
Anfield legend Dalglish, 59, has been installed as boss until the end of the season after Roy Hodgson‘s departure. He faces a daunting task on his return to the dugout, with Liverpool 12th in the Premier League and playing poorly. But a Dalglish-inspired win in the Cup against his old rival Sir Alex Ferguson could kick-start the Reds’ season. The Scot expressed sympathy for Hodgson on his return to the UK from Dubai late on Saturday. And he told liverpoolfc.tv: “All I would say is I’m going to do the best I possibly can to try to help the club, but everybody has to pull in the same direction. “We won’t always be successful, and to be perfectly realistic, I think we have to say ‘Let’s just start walking before we run’.
No one will expect Liverpool to beat Manchester United, so Kenny can just get on with business after that
“Let’s not go crazy here and think we’re going to sweep everything aside now and go undefeated from now to the end of the season. “Let’s just go out there and try our best and take things one game at a time. I’m really looking forward to it and it’ll be a real pleasure for me to be in that dressing room again and on the bench.” While Dalglish would have preferred more time to prepare for the trip to Manchester, he will surely relish renewing his rivalry with Ferguson. The pair have locked horns on several occasions, notably in March 1990 when Liverpool’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford left his fellow Scot on the brink of the sack. While a lot may have changed in 20 years, Liverpool Echo sports editor John Thompson believes Dalglish’s return will give the Liverpool faithful fresh hope. “Those 9,000 Liverpool fans heading for Old Trafford on Sunday with some trepidation will I’m sure have their hearts lifted by this, and you will hear them right through the 90 minutes,” Thompson told BBC News.
“The fans of Liverpool FC have got their club back. It is tangible.” Dalglish guided Liverpool to three league titles as manager before resigning in 1991, but his ties with the club have remained strong and he has been working as an ambassador since 2009. While his return is sure to be warmly applauded by Liverpool fans there are questions over how long he has been out of management, having not led a team since leaving Celtic in 2000. However, in an interview in October he insisted: “I’ve never been far away from the game. I don’t think it has changed. It’s not like technology is it? “It is still about people, it’s still about getting results. The people might have changed but the principles haven’t.”
While Dalglish faces two derby matches in his opening three games, with a Premier League clash against Everton just around the corner, Match of the Day pundit and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson believes that start will please him. “The good thing for Kenny is he can’t really lose with his first match being the FA Cup game at Old Trafford,” said Lawrenson. “No one will expect Liverpool to win, so he can just get on with business after that.” Dalglish’s team are in bad shape, sitting four points above the drop zone, unable to string good results together, lacking confidence and watched by frustrated fans. The interim boss will be out to right those wrongs and restore stability under American owners New England Sports Ventures in the short term. He will also be trying to offer key players such as Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and captain Steven Gerrard a glimmer of hope that the club might return to its glory days.