Liverpool FC of the English Premier League announced on May 16 that manager Kenny Dalglish has been fired after leading the team to a disappointing eighth-place finish this season. It was the former player’s second stint as the club’s manager. Dalglish was hired earlier last season after former manager Roy Hodgson was fired, but lasted just 18 months in charge.
Dalglish did manage to end the team’s trophy drought as Liverpool won the Carling Cup in February with a 3-2 win over Championship League club Cardiff in a penalty shootout. They also came close to capturing the FA Cup this season, but were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea in the final at Wembley Stadium on May 5.
Tom Werner, Liverpool’s chairman, said the team’s results in the Premier League were unacceptable this season and a change needed to be made. Dalglish found out he was fired after flying out to Boston for his season-ending review. Liverpool is owned by Fenway Sports Group, the same organization that owns the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball.
The Carling Cup victory means Liverpool will be playing in the Europa League tournament next season, but ownership was counting on a berth in the upper-echelon European Champions League. However, that wasn’t to be with the team’s record of 14-wins, 14 losses and 10 ties. In addition, the city of Liverpool’s other team, Everton FC, finished ahead of their neighbours this season for just the second time in the last 24 years.
Dalglish said he was disappointed to be leaving the club, but the decision was handled in a respectful and honourable manner by the American ownership group. He added that if the club ever needs any help in any way that he’ll always be available for them.
Dalglish was hired for the first time in 1985 and left the club after 1991 because he was suffering from stress. He managed to lead the team to the league title in 1990, but they haven’t won it since. He took over from Hodgson back in January 2011 when Liverpool was hovering close to the bottom of the league.
Liverpool finished the season in fifth place last year and Dalglish was rewarded with a three-year contract extension from owner John Henry when the season ended. However, Liverpool was one of the league’s lowest-scoring clubs this season with just 47 goals. They also had one of the worst home records in the EPL. This was deemed a huge failure after Dalglish spent a British record of 35 million pounds on forward Andy Carroll of Newcastle United and then proceeded to leave him on the bench for much of the season.
The 61-year-old Dalglish is still considered to be a Liverpool legend as both a player and manager. The fans will never forget the 172 goals he scored in the 515 games he played for the club as well as the championship he brought them as a manager. Most soccer experts feel he’s out of touch with the modern game though and his sour demeanor worked against him when dealing with the media.
The ownership group was also unhappy with the way the manager spent about $165 million of their money last year on players who didn’t produce for the team. In the end, Dalglish found out that sentiment and nostalgia don’t mean anything in today’s world of professional sports.