Reticent Dalglish finally finds it good to talk

Glenn Moore joins a footballing legend at the launch of his autobiograp hy in a London restaurant yesterday
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Ossie Ardiles's shirt, George Best's boots, Billy Meredith's union book. Although the occasional star drops by, the attractions at Football Football, the PFA-backed theme restaurant on London's Haymarket, are usually inanimate ones. Yesterday the draw was a living "great'', and, more to the point, a talking one.

As a player and a manager Kenny Dalglish kept his public utterances succinct. "You saw it, you write it,'' was his favourite phrase - sometimes his only one.

However, the publishing business demands a more expansive approach to publicity. Having taken his own advice and written an autobiography Dalglish yesterday found himself faced with the serried ranks of the media - and with an obligation to talk.

He did not look entirely comfortable but, he insisted, "it is not an ordeal. When I woke up this morning I did not think anything untoward. It made a change to be going back to work.''

The prospect of Dalglish returning to real work - football management - was uppermost in everybody's minds. "I'm not desperate to go back," he drawled in that famous Glaswegian whisper. "I don't need to go back. It won't break my heart as long as I can find something else to do which I enjoy.''

Apart from becoming a professional golfer that seems unlikely, especially as his four children (at present aged eight to 21) gradually leave home. He admits he will always be involved in football, even if only as a spectator. "I watched 80 matches last season and I still enjoy watching games," he added. "I came back from holiday on Tuesday and went to watch Crewe and Preston that evening.''

At present he said he is "just dossing about'' but he is planning to further his football learning. "I would like to educate myself on coaching. See how other people work. Most of the top guys have learned from others, at home and abroad.''

Dalglish has always been regarded as more a motivator of players than a coach and his desire to improve that area of his management suggests, more than anything, that he intends a comeback. He had also said, in reference to that match at Crewe, "if you see something, you note it for future reference''.

Any return to management would depend on who was asking. "You have to know who you are working with, you have to trust them. That is the most important thing, to work with people you feel comfortable with. If you feel comfortable you do a better job.

"Football is changing. It is becoming more of a business. The pressure on managers to be successful is increasing. If you do not get results you are out of a job.

"I do not have any targets. I have never said 'I want to win this, or that', except when I left Celtic out of a desire to be successful in Europe.''

In the book, Dalglish deals in depth with the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough. The latter chapter is very moving, the former one slightly controversial. Without condoning the actions of the Liverpool fans, Dalglish criticises the behaviour of some Italian supporters and the governing body of European football, Uefa, as well. More may be heard of this - it was picked up on by an Italian journalist yesterday. Dalglish is also strongly critical of Margaret Thatcher - oddly that part was missed out when the Daily Mail serialised extracts earlier this week.

The portrait of Dalglish which emerges from the book is of an honest, decent man perhaps with a tinge of paranoia about the media's treatment of him. Because of the football tragedies he has witnessed - he was also at the Ibrox disaster - and the way he left Liverpool and Blackburn, he has been subjected to more amateur psychology than most. Much of it was probably wrong but that is partly because in public, with people he does not know, he is a poor communicator.

But with people he knows he is warm and possessed of a dry wit. His family are very important to him - as were the extended families of Celtic, Liverpool and Blackburn. He is also a football man. The game is unlikely to be without him for long.

n DALGLISH My Autobiography by Kenny Dalglish with Henry Winter (Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 16.99).

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