Football: It often pays to stick with the devil you know even if the devils you know are close to drawing their footballing pensions

The prefix ``canny'', as applied to Kenny Dalglish, has become one of football's most enduring cliches, and Dalglish's dabblings in the transfer market this week suggest that it's also one of the most convincing. It doesn't take a genius to work out that a 36,000 full house every match (and a waiting list as long as the proverbial arm), a wealthy benefactor with his fingers in most of the pies in the North-east, and an income of over pounds 13m generated from the recent sale of players, all adds up to a healthy bank balance.

Which must mean that, despite the apparently tight financial constraints placed on the football club by the plc, Dalglish has a few bob to rub together. Yet, in his attempt to do what not even ``the Messiah'' has managed to do for 71 years - bring the championship to St James' Park - Dalglish has gone back to Liverpool and recruited two members of the Anfield old guard, Ian Rush and John Barnes; combined age: 68; combined transfer fee: pounds 0. But then Dalglish knows a thing or two about signing players to win championships, and anyway, he may well have a point (although he'll need at least 75 to win it) . Which is that, for all the air miles clocked up during the close season by managers who returned from far flung destinations (i.e., Scandinavia) with the latest Tor, Flo or Trond in tow, the reality is that it often pays to stick with the devil you know rather than the devil you haven't really got a clue about, and who could end up costing you an arm and a leg and giving you a sore head in return.

Even if the devils you know are close to drawing their footballing pensions, and couldn't get into the first teams at Liverpool and Leeds respectively. Look, for example, at Blackburn's Roy Hodgson, who says he "won't be buying any players I don't know, now or in the future''; expect Ewood Park to be brimming with ex-Inter Milan, Switzerland and Bristol City stars by the year 2000. Look, too, at Wim Jansen, whose two major recruits at Celtic have been his former Feyenoord charges Henrik Larsson and Regi Blinker.

Thing is, being a football manager is such a precarious job that you can't really blame those who play it safe. Howard Wilkinson once claimed that ``there are only two types of managers: those who've been sacked, and those who'll be sacked in the future''; and it was Wilkinson who, as manager of Leeds, went back to his old club Sheffield Wednesday and relieved them of pounds 1.75m worth of "talent'' in Lee Chapman, Nigel Worthington, John Pemberton and Jon Newsome.

But Wilko's favouritism pales into insignificance compared to that shown by Ron Atkinson to Kevin Richardson, who is perhaps the palest, skinniest player ever to have played professional football. Cynics will claim BFR's aim was to portray himself as more tanned and omnipotent than he actually is by ensuring Richardson was his constant companion, although the man himself will tell you it was that sweet left foot that did the trick. Whatever the reason, wherever BFR went (to Real Sociedad, Aston Villa and Coventry) Richardson was sure to go too.

Quite what Dave "Route one'' Bassett saw in Glyn "on the deck'' Hodges is more of a mystery, yet Bassett signed Hodges for Wimbledon, Watford and Sheffield United. Ditto Graham Taylor's preoccupation with Tony Daley. Having already - inexplicably - launched Daley's brief England career, Taylor went back to Aston Villa to sign the winger for Wolves, where he's been equally ineffective. It must have been something in the hair.

Graeme Souness' bond with Barry Venison is more understandable. See, Souness has always been an image man and let's face it, anyone's going to look good alongside Bazza Venison in post-match press conferences. So having had first hand experience of Bazza's dress sense at Liverpool, Souness lured him to Turkey when he took over at Galatasaray, then rescued him when he got the Southampton job.

Gerry Francis' favourite pastime used to be signing his old Bristol Rovers proteges while Mark McGhee is another who has an unhealthy tendency for renewing old playing acquaintances (the fans won't have anything to do with him) from his Reading and Leicester days.

But none of these liaisons are as unfathomable as that between Terry Hurlock and Ian Branfoot, who signed the volatile midfielder three times: for Reading, Southampton and Fulham. Dalglish's new signings should make more of an impact, even if the once prolific Rush managed a paltry three goals last season, and the highlight of Barnes' season was that speculative skimmer against Southampton. But if anyone doubts Dalglish's judgment, they'd be as well to recall that Brian Clough, when he became Nottingham Forest manager in 1975, signed some of the players - John McGovern, John O'Hare and Archie Gemmill - who had helped him win the title with Derby in 1972. There was nothing sentimental about it; that wasn't Cloughie's style. No, he was convinced they could do it again. And, inevitably, he was right.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal
football
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own