The new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has held out the prospect of his predecessor Kenny Dalglish resuming a role at the club and insisted he will not be intimidated by the commentariat of former players in the background at Anfield.
The former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said recently that it had been "difficult to compete with icons" at Liverpool and reflected of Dalglish that "when things didn't go well, having him in the background wasn't easy and wouldn't have been easy for any coach". But Rodgers, who has the benefit of knowing that the clamour for Dalglish as manager has been satisfied, will not be damaged in the same way by having the Scot in an ambassadorial role and providing input at the club's academy – the role he undertook during Rafael Benitez's management.
"I've had real open and honest discussions with the owners," Rodgers said. "They are realistic. They are beginning this cycle of realism as well [as me]. There is no doubt they want to be winners. But in order to do that the cycle has to begin somewhere.
"I have the ultimate respect for Kenny Dalglish. My door is always open for Kenny Dalglish. This is his home. As the chairman [Tom Werner] said, he is the heart and soul of this club. His love for this club is unrivalled. He is the best player in the history of this club. I am not here to win any race or competition. This guy is a legend in the game and here. But what I know is history judges you as a manager and, hopefully, in time people will look back at what I have achieved here and I can walk beside these people. But there is no way I can try and overtake someone like Kenny Dalglish. All I can do is be myself."
Of Dalglish, he added: "This is a guy who has a wonderful history here and will continue to have a great future in terms of Liverpool. I can't worry about that. I can't say anymore about a man I respect. The only way you can overcome that is by winning."
The galaxy of former Liverpool players who retain an active interest in the club and have access to the media is another challenge perhaps unique to Anfield. The BBC's Mark Lawrenson has already observed that recruiting Rodgers, who has had only one season of Premier League management behind him, is "the biggest gamble the club have taken in a long time".
Asked if this presence could prove to be a millstone, Rodgers said: "No, not really. I know there are three types of supporters at every club. Number one is those who, no matter who the manager is, they love their club and they will love their manager whoever it is, because Liverpool is their life and their passion and they love their club. The second group is supporters who will accept you, but to earn their real respect you will have to be successful. That's fine. The third group are the critics and you never change them, ever. Ever. If you win 4-0 it should have been five, if you win the league you should have won three. I will never worry about that group because you can never affect them. If you do a good job you are proving them right but they [won't acknowledge they've been] proved wrong so they will kill you even more. I only want to work with the people who love the club.
"I have always had good relations with the media and with the supporters. I'm open and honest. I understand that not everybody will want me here. But that's part of the dance."
Dalglish won the Carling Cup for Liverpool, reached the FA Cup final and was still dismissed, though Rodgers said he would not be intimidated by that fact. "It tells me that it is a high level," he said. "All I've ever tried to be [is] a student of the game, to be the very best I could."
Rodgers wants the Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson to sign for him at Liverpool, while a deal with his former club Swansea City is not yet concluded.Reuse content