Monday, July 6, 2009

The Return of 'THE KING'

Liverpool supporters were rejoicing last night after it was confirmed that Kenny Dalglish is to return to Anfield.After months of negotiations, the legendary former Liverpool player and manager has agreed to take on a senior role at the club’s academy, where he will be responsible for overseeing the development of their burgeoning young talents.Dalglish, 58, will also serve as a global ambassador for the club, fulfilling much the same duties as Sir Bobby Charlton does at Manchester United, although perhaps more pertinently in the eyes of Liverpool fans, he will act as a sounding board for Rafael Benítez, the manager.“I am very excited, but also a bit nervous,” Dalglish said. “For the boss to put his trust in me is a great compliment and I am coming back as a very lucky person. When you leave a club you don’t often have a chance to return, so I am fortunate. Rafa has made a very brave decision to revamp the academy.“There are lots of positive things happening here and there is a real feel-good factor around the place. Hopefully we can start producing players to challenge for a place in Rafa’s plans. It won’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of work to be done and I will do whatever is asked of me.”Benítez was instrumental in urging Dalglish to rejoin the club, more than 18 years after he resigned as manager, and his role as a buffer between the Spaniard and an incoming chief executive and Christian Purslow, the recently appointed managing director, could prove crucial to Liverpool’s success in the years ahead.The Liverpool manager often clashed with Rick Parry, whose 11-year tenure as chief executive formally ended on Wednesday. But fans will hope that Dalglish’s presence can help to avert some of the boardroom confrontations that have hampered the club in recent years and also have a positive impact on Benítez’s relationship with Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, the American co-owners.“When you talk to Dalglish about players and football systems it’s clear he has a lot of experience,” Benítez said. “That’s good for the club and young players. We are bringing in new ideas and people \ but we’re keeping the spirit and the heart.”As far as mentors go, Liverpool’s aspiring players could probably not ask for anyone better to guide their futures than the man widely regarded as the best player in the club’s long and distinguished history.Bob Paisley, the former Liverpool manager, broke the British transfer record by paying Celtic £440,000 to bring Dalglish to Anfield in 1977 as a replacement for Kevin Keegan, and he did not disappoint. Dalglish scored 172 goals in 515 games for Liverpool, winning the European Cup three times and a host of other trophies in the process. As player-manager, he guided the club to their first league and cup double in his debut season in charge in 1985-86. He was also the last Liverpool manager to win the league title, in 1990, although Benítez will hope to change that next season.Although Dalglish’s resignation in February 1991 came as a bitter disappointment to the club, he brought a smile to the faces of Liverpool supporters again by managing Blackburn Rovers to the Premier League title at Manchester United’s expense in 1995 and he subsequently worked for Newcastle United and Celtic -TIMES ONLINE

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