Hodgson: King Kenny and I can take club forward

Liverpool manager hails work of Dalglish and says political football is over
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The Independent Online

So far it has been a story that might even test the brain of Milan Kundera, the Czech writer who Roy Hodgson espouses, but the Liverpool manager maintains that the club's fortunes are about to turn and the days of political struggling at Anfield are over.

They may have new owners but Liverpool remain in the relegation zone going in to today's game at Bolton and there is still much to be done for Hodgson, who has guided his team to only two wins in nine Premier League games so far.

Few managers in Hodgson's position would feel comfortable with Kenny Dalglish at the club (think Alan Shearer multiplied by Kevin Keegan in Newcastle terms), particularly as the Scot made it clear he was interested in the manager's job in the summer. But far from being threatened by Dalglish's presence, Hodgson even went to Wigan's 1-1 draw against Bolton with the Scot last week – Dalglish drove – and thinks the former player-manager is vital to taking the club forward.

Hodgson feels Dalglish, whose current role involves working with the academy and some scouting after returning to the club as an ambassador under Rafael Benitez last year, should be working at a level that is unaffected by the identity of the manager for as long as he wants.

"I'm not prepared to pass up on quality people who can help because of a fear the day may come when the club decides they want Kenny as manager," said Hodgson. "That wasn't the case in the summer, but that's not to say it won't be the case forever. I don't know. I have no fears in that respect because I know my qualities and I'm not a political person. He is doing a great job alongside us and we involve him in our scouting while he still works at the academy and plays an ambassadorial role. That's what he's good at.

"You cannot find a better person for that than Kenny. I told him I was disappointed he went for the manager's job because for me he should be working for Liverpool on a permanent basis, long after I leave for years to come assisting all future Liverpool managers. When it was mooted the club wanted me for the job I made it clear to Kenny I wantedhim on board and it wouldn't be like it was with Benitez where you are here in name but never allowed to set foot into Melwood and we don't want anything to do with you."

Attempting to keep Liverpool in their place today is the Bolton strikerKevin Davies, who was taken to Blackburn by Hodgson for £7.5 million in the summer of 1998, a spell that marked a low in both of their careers. Hodgson was sacked that November while Davies scored just once as Blackburn were relegated, before being sent back to Southampton. He struggled for regular starts at The Dell and even had a stint in the Championship with Millwall before joining Sam Allardyce's Bolton on a free transfer.

Davies, 33, who is now an England international, feels the spell at Ewood Park was pivotal in his career and Hodgson claims he would handle the situation differently.

"We were both very, very unlucky and circumstances contrived against us both. He wasn't a bad fellow but he couldn't get off to a decent start, we weren't doing well and I probably wasn't in a position mentally to give him the help he needed. I just expected him to just do it for me and I don't think I did enough for him," said Hodgson, who admits signing a striker is a major priority in January.

"For a while his career went in the wrong direction and it's great credit to himself and Sam Allardyce, who gave him his chance at Bolton. I met Kevin years later and he told me 'I needed a jolt'. He got the jolt, Sam gave him a chance and he decided he needed to get it right. He's gone from getting it right to excellent and I was delighted the other day when he got his England cap."

Although he would rather forget his time at Blackburn, Davies remembers his former manager fondly.

"He was brilliant, he is a top bloke and everyone knows that about him and his coaching was very hands on and he wants to be on the field coaching and he was passionate about that," Davies said.

"I try to forget about [the Blackburn experience] really. It wasn't the best part of my career but it's not something I dwell on or look back on. Roy has a wealth of experience and I'm sure he will use that experience to claw them out of it. They only need a couple of wins and they are back in the top eight or six so it is not a total disaster for them yet."

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