I suppose it’s appropriate that Kenny’s first home game as returning manager should be against Everton. Those of you with longer memories will remember that it was after an FA Cup tie with Everton, the score was 4-4, that Kenny resigned.
I did a piece on this game nearly two years ago (click here) and so did Louise Taylor in yesterdays Guardian (click here). The Guardian piece was really good bringing back more memories. It referred to Ray Houghton and how Kenny’s resignation took him by surprise. I remember the game was terrific for neutrals but it did my head in as we kept letting Everton back into it. Nonetheless all the way through I thought we would win so it was a disappointment when we didn’t but not too much, we could take them in the replay (we didn’t). Little did I think that it was moment that would break Kenny. Like Houghton, I never saw his resignation coming.
Back to today and what a difference a defeat makes, Had we beaten Blackpool then no doubt the papers would be full of analysis, and may be even some praise, about Dalglish’s influence as a manager how he had made an immediate impact etc However, the defeat basically means that all the old articles, about the problems we face, have been revamped the only difference being that Roy Hodgson’s name has been deleted and Kenny’s inserted!
Now that the hype and euphoria has died down I guess we should accept that although Dalglish might have some impact in the man management area, the squad is still the same and, in terms of quality and strength in depth, the same, problems still remain. Quit rightly Kenny has said he trusts in his players and, if required, will persevere however what he says in public is one thing privately, in some cases he’ll surely realise that it is an uphill task er…. to put it tactfully, trying to polish a turd!
Nonetheless at the moment all he can try to do is make the most of what he’s got and encourage and support which is what he has always done. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Kenny criticise one of his players in public and it looks like this will remain as long as he is in charge.
Of course the transfer window offers the opportunity to improve the squad. However, it is debatable if what’s on offer will offer long term solutions to our problems. There are some reasonable tit bits to be picked from Manchester City’s (and others) table however these are short term solutions, stop gaps until we get some real quality or young prospects who we can expect to be with us for some time. Plenty of names have been mentioned in the press, with is for discussion in another piece, however I get the feeling that lurking in the background is this – although nothing has been said the money to rebuild might not be made available at least until the summer and until the new owners have fully gauged the lie of the land? We are just going to have to tough this seasons out?
So on to today’s game. Rumours are that Glen Johnson will start in midfield which is an halleluiah moment in my book. Johnson has undoubted attacking abilities but as a defender this season his form has been dire and that is putting it mildly. Apparently on Twitter he has taken criticism by Paul Merson, over same subject, to task stupidly and cheaply (he mentioned Merson’s drink and drug problems) suggesting the former Arsenal player was a “clown” and “average at best” which is also cheap. Johnson is kidding no one by lashing out in this way. I don’t think there is anyone who would disagree with Merson (by the way in my book he was well above average) re Johnson’s “defending”. However, as in the case of Gareth Bale, hopefully we might see a new Glen Johnson free from the onerous responsibility of defending? Hell, perhaps he will be the answer to our ever continuing wide man problem? First and foremost, if it happens hats of to Kenny for giving it a go and why didn’t Rafa and HRH have the nous to do the same?
Further credibility to this rumour is given by the fact that Fabio Aurelio is fit again meaning that he should take over at left back where Johnson played against Blackpool. Elsewhere Joe Cole is fit which, with former coach at Chelsea Steve Clarke now with us, begs the question will he play? In terms of players missing we can trump their Cahill (out on Asia Cup duty) with the suspended Gerrard.
Prediction? To be honest I don’t care as long as we win! For all the problems we’ve had it’s still guaranteed that the joint will be rocking! Kenny’s return will make it a great occasion and let’s hope we put in a performance that’s in keeping with it. 2-0 to us.