Kenny Dalglish was the first player-manager in the English game and had also to deal with Liverpool's ban in Europe. It wasn't the easiest of tasks but Dalglish was modest and somewhat prophetic: "I would be the first to realise if I wasn’t good enough and then I would confront it."
Dalglish was ably assisted by Paisley in his first two years. Virtually the first thing he had to do was replace the victorious fullbacks of the Paisley era, Phil Neal and Alan Kennedy with Nicol and Beglin. Kenny also decided to change the team's playing style using the Big Dane Jan Molby as a sweeper. Man Utd looked like running away with the league but Liverpool caught up with them and none other than the boss himself secured the title in the last league game of the season vs Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool celebrated the double by beating Everton 3-1 in the FA cup final and Dalglish had already written a new chapter in Liverpool's history. Liverpool turned out empty handed for only the third time in 15 years at the end of the following season.
Golden boy Rush had gone to Italy and it was clear Dalglish had to rebuild his strikeforce. John Aldridge had signed in February and he bought John Barnes and Peter Beardsley in the summer of 1987. Liverpool didn’t stumble in the league until the 20th of March. LFC had played 29 games, won 22, drawn 7, lost none and scored 65 goals and conceded 13. The title was secured with four games to go, the only disappointment when Liverpool lost unexpectedly in the FA cup final vs. Wimbledon. This wasn’t Joe Fagan’s team or Bob Paisley’s team. This team played a more offensive football than the previous teams and was more about individual play of great players even though the team spirit was high. This was Kenny Dalglish’s team.
The 1988-89 season was marked by the return of Ian Rush, the Hillsborough tragedy and the crucial championship decider against Arsenal. Liverpool regained Ian Rush, lost the championship in the most dramatic of circumstances, but all paled in comparison when 96 supporters lost their lives. Football had lost its significance.
Liverpool lost only 1 game out of 35 from 3rd of January to 14th of October 1989. Liverpool won the Championship race for the 18th time and Dalglish was voted Manager of the year for the third time in five years.
Liverpool began the 1990-91 season in emphatic fashion. 14 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss in the first 18 games, 43 goals scored against 15. Liverpool had only lost three games at the turn of the year and were at the top of the league. Liverpool’s success had taken its toll. Many of the fans didn’t remember Liverpool other than crushing their opponent one way or the other and some criticized Kenny's team.
Liverpool took the lead four times against Everton on the 20th of February 1991 in the FA Cup 5th round. The Blues equalised every time, a 4-4 draw was the result. The next morning Dalglish told the Liverpool board he was leaving.
Kenny's famous last words to the press were: "This is the first time since I came to the club that I take the interest of Kenny Dalglish over Liverpool Football Club. This is not a sudden decision. The worst I could have done was not to decide. One could argue that this decision hadn’t come at a good time but there is no good time in cases like this. The main problem is the pressure I put on myself because of my strong desire to succeed. The stress that comes right before and after games has got the better of me. Some might have difficulty understanding my decision but this decision stands. I would be betraying everyone if I wouldn’t let them know there is something wrong. I have been involved with football since I was 17. Twenty years with the two most successful teams in Britain, Celtic and Liverpool. I’ve been at the front all these years and it is time to end it."
Another Liverpool legend had gone from Anfield.
The legend would, however, return. Appointed as the club's ambassador in July 2009, Dalglish was asked to help the club find a replacement for Rafael Benitez as manager. Although linked strongly with the post himself, the job eventually went to Roy Hodgson. But a wretched start to the Premier League season saw the Reds in the unfamiliar territory of the relegation-zone after losing at home to Blackpool in October. When results failed to improve, Hodgson left the club 'by mutual consent' and Kenny was appointed on the 8th of January 2011 to replace him until the end of the 2010-11 season.
|Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland|
|Other clubs as manager: Blackburn, Newcastle|
|Arrived from: LFC player|
|Signed for LFC: 30.05.1985|
|First game in charge: 17.08.1985|
|Contract expiry: 21.02.1991|
|LFC league games as manager: 224|
|Total LFC games as manager: 307|
|Honours: First Division champions 1986, 1988, 1990|
|F.A. cup winners 1986, 1989|