Dalglish needs help to stop him sinking

Manchester United 2 Liverpool 1

Old Trafford

Yes, Kenny Dalglish did have grounds for frustration about the eight-game ban imposed on Luis Suarez.

The evidence that his player used the word "negro" seven times was circumstantial and there were valid legal grounds to appeal had Liverpool chosen to take them. They did not, fearing the case would continue to engulf them but now they are awash anyway. The Dalglish regime actually felt like it was becoming destabilised late on Saturday night when the footballers' own union described Liverpool's conduct as "embarrassing" and "unresponsive" on a race issue. Better that they had challenged the Football Association in the first place than this seething kind of acceptance.

Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, revealed amid Saturday evening's maelstrom that his offer to arbitrate on the matter was rejected by Liverpool last autumn, when some simple contrition for any offence caused by Suarez's use of the word "negro" might have prevented the entire conflagration. In fairness, there have certainly been some forces of reason at the club in recent weeks, trying to draw a line. Dalglish has just not felt like one of them.

The statement the club issued on Wednesday evening, stating that Suarez would shake Evra's hand, was issued with a sense of urgency. Telephone calls alerted journalists to its release. This felt like a club repelling the distaste created Dalglish's by protestation of his player's innocence, at Anfield 48 hours earlier.

In contradicting that statement, Suarez has demonstrated that his manager has no control over him, and Dalglish is, of course, only reaping what he has sowed. His campaign of solidarity for Suarez has inculcated a sense a victimhood in the player that cannot be tamed.

Yesterday, the club's American owners decided enough was enough. The tone of Dalglish's apology sounded like one of a man who had been put through a fairly searing inquisition and the levels of contrition shown saw the clouds lift, if not entirely clear, from Anfield. But it will require more than a 122-word statement to buoy a manager who has been sinking since Suarez and Evra clashed at Old Trafford 120 days ago.

When Dalglish needs a sounding board he turns to his old Liverpool ally, Alan Hansen, his de facto spokesman on Saturday's Match of the Day. Yet when those two trod the Anfield turf together – in the days when Anfield carried the serene reputation of a club who cared to do things in a distinguished, respectable fashion which they care to call the Liverpool Way – he knew his place.

The great Liverpool administrator Peter Robinson and chairman Sir John Smith kept the Liverpool keys and he worked for them. "I had enough on my plate looking after the football side," Dalglish once said. "It would have been insulting to Peter Robinson, John Smith and the board of directors if I wanted to change how they ran a very successful club. I don't think I would have been respected if I had tried to muscle in on their action because they never muscled in on mine. I wasn't equipped to be involved."

He is certainly not equipped for the subtleties of a 21st-century race row, nor the type of media storm which has accompanied it. Yet no one appears capable of standing up to him and damage is being done. "What the owners of the club think [I don't know]," Taylor said. Yesterday's events answered that question.

The Americans' task is to ensure that there is no executive vacuum at the top of the club. The managing director, Ian Ayre, led a welcome attempt yesterday to repair the damage, as he has done with purpose in the past month.

Dalglish's own task is to begin tempering the love Suarez has been made to feel with some hard management. There is an instructive symmetry with Wayne Rooney, whose two goals on Saturday capped another golden display. When Sir Alex Ferguson fined him £200,000 for his Boxing Day night out in Southport, there was a difficult moment between the two and, from the outside looking in, it seemed harsh; risky even. This was Ferguson being a manager and it doesn't appear to have done any harm.

This task would always be harder with Suarez. Dare Liverpool fine Suarez, as the PFA wishes? Possibly not. By more flagellation, they risk losing him altogether this summer. But there is a trade off between preserving a player and preserving the fine reputation of a club.

"It could have ended there and then [on Saturday] with a handshake," the United defender Jonny Evans reflected yesterday.

"We [had] been talking about it in the changing room [beforehand]. I said to [Evra] myself and a few other players said 'just shake his hand. Then you will come out with a lot of respect.'"

Liverpool find that quality in short supply and must prove they mean yesterday's extraordinary contrition if they are to avoid pariah status.

More on Liverpool and Manchester United:

Suarez and Liverpool say sorry for Evra snub

James Lawton: Managers must come together to drag game back from brink

Sam Wallace: Apology is a good start, but there's plenty more to do

FA will take no further action against Liverpool and Manchester United

Match Facts

Man Utd: DE GEA 6/10; RAFAEL 6; EVANS 5; FERDINAND 7; EVRA 5; VALENCIA 8; SCHOLES 7; CARRICK 6; GIGGS 6; ROONEY 7; WELBECK 6

Liverpool: REINA 6; ENRIQUE 5; AGGER 6; SKRTEL 6; JOHNSON 5; DOWNING 5; HENDERSON 6; SPEARING 5; GERRARD 6; KUYT 5; SUAREZ 6

Scorers: Manchester United Rooney 47, 50 Liverpool Suarez 80.

Substitutes: Liverpool Bellamy 6 (Spearing, 61), Carroll 5 (Downing, 61), Adam (Kuyt, 75).

Booked: Man United Carrick. Liverpool Downing.

Man of the match Valencia.

Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Man United 47% Liverpool 53%.

Attempts on target: Man United 6 Liverpool 6.

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire). Attendance 74,844.

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living