BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Friday, 14 January 2011

Alan Hansen on Kenny Dalglish and the Merseyside derby

Kenny Dalglish
Dalglish is hoping to reverse a run of three straight Liverpool defeats on Sunday

Alan Hansen
Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Kenny Dalglish returns to the Anfield dug-out as Liverpool manager for the first time in 20 years on Sunday - and the fact that it is the Merseyside derby against Everton only adds an extra layer of intrigue to what will be an emotional occasion.

Of course it was the 4-4 FA Cup draw at Everton that signalled the end of his first spell in charge and he returns in very different circumstances with a huge job to do to revive Liverpool's season.

Dalglish has correctly pointed out that the romance attached to his return only goes so far and realism will soon kick in. It kicked in emphatically on Wednesday night at Bloomfield Road when Blackpool beat Liverpool 2-1.

It will be an emotional occasion and he is guaranteed a rapturous welcome by the supporters who revere him, but once he has acknowledged the Anfield crowd Kenny's approach will be cold-headed. Years of experience take care of that and the only thought occupying his mind will be the fact that this is a game Liverpool have to win.

It will be an emotional day at Anfield on Sunday and Kenny will love being back on such familiar territory as Liverpool manager, but he will know it is a day for business and Everton will be doing their best to spoil his homecoming

Alan Hansen

Kenny will hope the lift his presence will give the crowd can be used to good effect. There is no question Anfield will be a united force in tandem with the team for the first time in a long while on Sunday, but the lift will only last so long if they do not start the game in the right manner.

If Liverpool play as they have done recently there will be nothing there for them against an Everton side who can be as good or as bad as anything around, but if they defend well then it is certainly within the capabilities of Dalglish's team to get a result. I think how Liverpool defend will have a big influence on the outcome of the game.

They need a result because, if they lose, they will face Wolves next in a fixture some would be only too willing to label as a contest between two relegation candidates. As someone with Liverpool's best interests at heart I would hate to see them in the throes of something like that, especially as I think both Kenny and the players are better than that, irrespective of what's happened this season.

I don't think anyone is under any illusions about the size of the task facing Kenny, but I speak as someone who played with him as a player and under him as a manager as well as a close friend and I know how good a manager and man-manager he is. And while some things may have changed in the game since he last took control as Liverpool boss, those qualities are just as valid and vital today as they were 20 years ago.

I think it is harder to get the best out of players today than it was then but Dalglish's record as a manager deserves total respect and makes him the perfect choice to take charge in a troubled time at Liverpool.

There are certain things he will be looking to improve quickly. Liverpool's away record is one of them - and in Roy Hodgson's defence it was abysmal last season under Rafael Benitez even before he got there.

Dalglish and first-team coach Steve Clarke will also want to bring some organisation to Liverpool's defence, which has been all over the place. Liverpool got into plenty of good areas in the final third at Bloomfield Road but every time Blackpool attacked they looked like scoring. This will have been noted but this is not a problem you can detect on Wednesday and fix on Thursday.

Dalglish outlines Anfield vision

Liverpool need to start quickly without going off their heads in a game that is always quick and frenetic. It is a match they have to win but this is by no means a certainty because Everton - inconsistent as they are - are probably playing better than Liverpool.

Dalglish will want that fast and confident start. He will tell them to be organised, aggressive and to show effort, attitude and commitment. If they come off and players and manager both feel everyone on the pitch has done their best then he can ask for no more.

He will also hope some of the marginal decisions that went against Liverpool at Manchester United and Blackpool - not bad decisions but the close calls that you tend not to get when your luck is out - will start going in his favour.

Liverpool will suffer a massive loss with the absence of Steven Gerrard through suspension. They have two world-class players in Gerrard and Fernando Torres. One is out of sorts and the other is out of the team and rest assured Everton will be lifted by knowing the captain's name will not be on the teamsheet.

Gerrard is a player who is truly inspirational, a leader and someone who can bail you out by producing something world-class in the last third as well as leading by example in all areas of the pitch.

Torres is united back four basher

Everton will assess all these factors and think they can beat Liverpool. Manager David Moyes will want his players to test their opponents, test that fragile confidence, test that defensive organisation.

I haven't spoken to David recently but he must be tearing his hair out at Everton's season at times. Here is a team that can win at Manchester City and beat Spurs at home and then lose or draw against so-called lesser teams. When you think a result will set them on their way it does not happen.

Just as Gerrard is a big miss for Liverpool, Everton will be without Tim Cahill, who has regularly made crucial contributions in derbies in the past. Even without him, though, Everton may still fancy their chances of getting joy against Liverpool in the air.

So it will be an emotional day at Anfield on Sunday and Kenny will love being back on such familiar territory as Liverpool manager, but he will know it is a day for business and Everton will be doing their best to spoil his homecoming.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

Print Sponsor

see also
Liverpool need belief - Dalglish
12 Jan 11 |  Premier League
Players showed they care - Dalglish
12 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Blackpool 2-1 Liverpool
12 Jan 11 |  Premier League
Dalglish outlines Anfield vision
12 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Dalglish on Reds long-term list
10 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Comolli hints Dalglish could stay on
10 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Dalglish 'honoured' to take reins
10 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Dalglish determined to help Liverpool
09 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Hansen and Lawrenson on Dalglish
09 Jan 11 |  Football
Hodgson goes as Dalglish steps in
08 Jan 11 |  Liverpool

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.