James Lawton: Kenny Dalglish didn't fail to recreate the past at Liverpool, he failed to face the future

The Americans had put in a legend who bought the wrong players for top-end prices

It was a good idea at the time and for a little while it might just have been a brilliant one.

Who could argue with that early impact of Kenny Dalglish? He came off a cruise ship last year to save the club but it was still easy to believe that there was no ocean wide enough to separate the great player and the winning manager from the realities of the game in which he had earned such distinction.

Initially, and crucially, he could make Liverpool feel big again. He could get the players' heads off their chests and he could make the fans, those who had placed their trust in Rafa Benitez, those who so bitterly mocked Roy Hodgson and certainly the ones who were willing to blame everything on the old ownership, to believe again.

Unfortunately, and sooner than later, Dalglish had to do that thing which determines the fate of all managers. He had to assess a few players. He had to show he knew the difference between evidence of mere talent and the ability to shape a situation with the force of their will.

The jury may still be out on Andy Carroll, thanks to an extremely late revival of some of those qualities that made him such a compelling prospect as a raw-boned tearaway in Newcastle, but the bitter truth was that the job lot of players brought in by Dalglish at a cost of more than £100m simply wasn't good enough.

John W Henry and his Fenway Sports Group associates might have been able to forgive many things – including the hapless handling of the Luis Suarez affair – but not the sight of so much wasted money swirling down the Mersey.

These are big-time American sports operators smitten with the theory of Moneyball, which is partly about swotting up on the stats and buying low. Soon enough they saw that they had put in a legendary figure who simply bought the wrong players at the top end of football inflation.

Yesterday the defiance of reality which became such a motif of his reign still peeked through a parting that was couched in so much mutual respect it was hardly to believe the great hero of Anfield had just flown across the Atlantic for the brusque handing out of the pink slip.

Dalglish said that he still would not exchange anything for the Carling Cup victory which ended six years without a trophy for the club because it had been a symbol for Liverpool supporters of the fact that the good days were back on the horizon. It meant that a great football man was going down as he had spent most of his latest appearance in the trenches of football. He was refusing to see the truth of Liverpool's plight – and the extent of his own failure to deliver the minimum requirement set by the owners, which was Champions' League qualification.

The delusion is as sad as the situation of a great club which believed that a vital turning had been made.

Naturally, there are some early names thrust into the race for the succession – Alan Pardew, Roberto Martinez and even Andre Villas-Boas so soon after the collapse of his Chelsea project. For the moment, though, the most pressing requirement is not for still another instant saviour but some kind of proper analysis of what went wrong.

More than anything it was not a failure to recreate the past but a refusal to face a new reality. Kenny Dalglish, for all his meaning, simply could not get to grips with what may well have been his last challenge.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project