Kenny Dalglish was unveiled as Roy Hodgson’s successor earlier today. The Liverpool legend will take charge of the team until the end of the season. Paul Eaton interviews Kenny.
Shortly after arriving at the team hotel in Manchester ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup showdown with Manchester United, Kenny Dalglish sat down with Liverpoolfc.tv to give his first in-depth interview after being named Reds boss for the second time.
Firstly, Kenny, another dramatic day at Liverpool Football Club?
Obviously it’s a great honour for me to be back in charge of a football club which means so much to so many people. When somebody gets a bit of pleasure there’s always the disappointment of someone else, and it’s Roy. Roy is a very honourable guy with loads of integrity and I feel really sad for him. He came in at the start of the season when Rafa left, he tried his best but it just didn’t happen for him and the disappointing thing for me is that this opportunity has come along and he has lost out. If you ask any manager if they want to manage Liverpool Football Club there’s no way in the world they’re going to say no, so he came in and unfortunately for himself and everyone else it didn’t work out as we all hoped and I don’t think there’s anybody who supports the football club who will get any pleasure out of seeing it not work.
How does it feel to once again be the manager of Liverpool Football Club?
I’m a very lucky person. That’s twice I’ve been very fortunate. I came here as a 15-year-old boy when Shanks asked me to sign and I was a wee bit homesick thinking I was too young to leave home. Then I got back as a player and left the club in February 1991. I’m fortunate to come back, even if it’s only to the end of the season it makes no difference to me, this place is very special and all we can do is try our best to move the club forward a bit and try to win some more games.
What was your immediate reaction when you were asked to step in and help the club out?
Marina and I were away for a break, but I said at the start of the season that if they wanted me to help in any way, shape or form then I would do. My situation never changed. I was there to be of help to the football club and if John and Tom and Ian Ayre and Damien were happy to offer me the position then there was no way I could be disrespectful and not take it. I’ve been a very lucky boy to be asked to do this. All I would say is I’m going to do the best I possibly can to try and help the club, but everybody has to pull in the same direction. There’s no point not being a unified unit. If we pull in different directions we won’t get anywhere. I’m really looking forward to it and it’ll be a real pleasure for me to be in that dressing room again and on the bench.
What’s the reaction been like so far from your family, friends, ex-players and fans you’ve seen?
I was on the plane to come back from Dubai and it went out to take off and the news hadn’t broken. Then it came back in to repair something and everybody’s phone was going and people were coming up to me to say ‘Congratulations, all the best’. My family have been brought up here and know what the football club stands for and what it means to a lot of people, so they’re delighted. The excitement has to calm down a wee bit, we have to make sure we turn the excitement into some positivity for everybody and make sure we win games. That’s the most important thing we have to do and the best way for us to do it is to support each other and we’re very good at that. As someone once said, the closer we are and the harder we work then the luckier we’ll get. So we’ll work hard to get the luck we need.
You’ve spoken in the past about your desire to manage the club again, how confident are you that you can turn Liverpool’s fortunes around this season?
I always said I’d help but I also made it perfectly clear I wasn’t going to stand on anyone’s toes to help. I was happy to help in any way I could, the football club and Roy. I think people know what they’re getting and what’s in the package with Kenny Dalglish, they know they’ll get honesty and a great deal of commitment. I’ll take my chances and hopefully we’ll get more positive results than negative ones.
It has been a disappointing campaign so far but why do you think the results haven’t been what we’d like and will a big part of your job now be trying to lift the confidence of the players?
Some people may find it strange that you’re talking about some great players – Steven, Fernando, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Raul Meireles – and you mention confidence. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re not confident in what you’re doing and not believing that it’s going to turn for you then you’re not going to play as well. You can point them in the right direction and tell them how good they are, but they’ve got to believe in it. Our lads will admit themselves that they’ve not achieved this season and not maintained the standards that they’re very capable of reaching. I might be fortunate and I might come in and get the luck that Roy missed out on. I’m sure Roy will be sitting and watching and hoping that we do well, because when you read the statement he made when he left the club then that tells you how dignified the man is.
On Sunday you’ll walk out at Old Trafford to the sight and sound of 9,000 Liverpool fans singing your name – how do you think you’ll feel when you make that walk along the touchline?
I’ll feel very humble and probably a bit emotional. They know that they’re equally as important as what we are, not just for Sunday’s game but for every game. We might lose a game – not necessarily on Sunday – or we might not play too well and that’s when we’ll need their support. We also as a squad of players and as a management have to give them something to cheer about as well. I’m sure our people will respond if we go out there and they see that our lads are proud to play and that they’ll do their best for Liverpool Football Club. We’ll do our best to get the results that they all want, we won’t always be successful, and to be perfectly realistic I think we have to say ‘Let’s just start walking before we run’. Let’s not go crazy here and think the season changes and we’re going to sweep everything aside now and go undefeated from now to the end of the season. We’re perfectly capable of doing it but let’s be realistic, let’s just go out there and try our best and take things one game at a time.
Manchester United away in your first game back – exciting or daunting?
It’s the same for both clubs I think. I’m sure Fergie would have picked an easier game if he could have picked one. Old Trafford is a fantastic stage to go and play your football, it’s an FA Cup tie and the FA Cup has been devalued of late with people fielding weakened teams. United lost to Leeds last year after putting out a weakened side and I can’t see him doing that tomorrow. All we’ve got to do is concern ourselves with us. Sammy, Mike, Damien and Roy up to today have been getting the boys ready for the game so they’ll be the ones who are bigger players than me, but I’ll be there beside them on the bench and we’ll all be singing from the same hymn-sheet.
And have you thought about what you’ll say to the players in your first team talk?
Yes, but it’s changed 25 times on the flight home, so I’m sure it’ll change again before the morning.
Do you think you’ll feel nervous before kick off?
I felt nervous last night after I got the phone call, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling that anticipation. I also feel a great sense of pride to try and help everybody get what they want, which is results.
You’ll be renewing past rivalries with Alex Ferguson as well, of course….
Yes, I don’t have a problem with that. You have to respect what Alex has done in the game and you don’t do it through gritted teeth. It’s a fantastic achievement what he’s done, his track record is fantastic, we respect him as a person and a football manager. It’s all well and good people disliking him or disliking Manchester United, but it doesn’t mean you don’t respect what other people have done in football.
Away from matters on the pitch, will you be having conversations with Damien Comolli and the owners with a view to bringing in new players during this transfer window?
I’m just in the door. I’m sure there will be conversations but honestly, I have had minimal conversations about what’s happening. I need to sit down and be told. I’ve got straight off the plane to do this interview and to try and get a message to the supporters and hope that I can repay the trust that John, Tom and the other footballing people, Ian and Damien, have put in me.
How excited are you by the challenge which lies ahead this season?
I’m really looking forward to it. You get nervous with anticipation but I’m looking forward to it. The games come up thick and fast, Sunday and then Wednesday at Blackpool and then the derby next Sunday. We’ve got to get on with it. It’s really exciting and something I’m looking forward to. There’s no fear, just a nervous anticipation about what’s going to happen.
What is your target for the rest of this season?
To get as many wins as we can muster and then take it from there.
And finally, what’s your message to Liverpool supporters as we all look forward to your second term as manager?
I’d just say if there’s excitement among the supporters then I can share in that excitement. I think we’ve got to be realistic and a little bit patient. It’s not going to turn overnight. I know there are lots of times when a manager leaves a football club and a new guy comes in and gives everyone a lift, well if the players get a bit of a lift then it has to last for more than one game. We’ve got to get it right between now and the end of the season and as I said earlier, there might be some disappointments but the biggest disappointment for me is if everyone who is involved in this football club doesn’t give everything they have to give. If we do that then we have a good chance of finishing the season well.
I’m sure everybody is right behind you Kenny and we all wish you the best of luck…
It’s a great pleasure to be back. We’re working for people we know we can trust and working for people who only want the best for us as well. Let’s just hope we can take this journey over the next five or six months together and have a successful time.