New Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has warned his sentimental return to the dugout will not instantly solve all the club’s problems and has called for unity as he attempts to turn around a disappointing season.
The 59-year-old admits he is “a lucky boy” to be handed the job until the end of the season after Roy Hodgson paid the price for poor results and an even poorer relationship with fans just six months after replacing Rafael Benitez.
Emotion and romanticism have paid a large part in the outpouring of joy which followed the announcement of his appointment.
Dalglish, of course, is rated Liverpool’s best player and is their last manager to win the title – in 1990.
He quit his post 19 years and 11 months ago after suffering emotional burn-out in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which took a huge personal toll on him.
The Scot soon realised he wanted to return but it has taken the best part of two decades for that wish to be fulfilled.
But after the club’s worst start to a season since 1953/54 – when they were relegated – even Dalglish accepts he cannot instantly turn back time to the glory days he used to enjoy both on the pitch and in the dugout.
“All I would say is I’m going to do the best I possibly can to try to help the club, but everybody has to pull in the same direction,” said the Liverpool legend on www.lfc.tv.
“There’s no point not being a unified unit. If we pull in different directions we won’t get anywhere.
“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.
“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.”
Dalglish will get a hero's welcome at the home of arch-rivals Manchester United today when he will renew rivalries with old foe Alex Ferguson in the third round of the FA Cup.
It is one thing Hodgson could never call on during his short stint in charge but Dalglish, who was overlooked for the job in the summer when Benitez departed, knows he and his team have a duty to start putting in the performances.
He admits confidence has been a problem within the squad but his introduction into the dressing room should give the players the necessary boost after it appeared they had struggled to adapt to Hodgson’s way of working.
“We’ll do our best to get the results that they (the fans) all want,” said Dalglish, who cut short a holiday to fly in to Manchester from Dubai tonight.
“As a squad of players and as a management we 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.
“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 (the players) 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.”
Despite criticism that bringing in Dalglish, even for a temporary period, is a backward step, the Scot insists he can cut it even though he has been out of management for 10 years.
“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,” he told liverpoolfc.tv.
“I’ve been a very lucky boy to be asked to do this. I’m fortunate to come back, even if it’s only to the end of the season it makes no difference to me.
“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 Henry (principal owner) and Tom Werner (chairman) and Ian Ayre (commercial director) and Damien Comolli (director of football strategy) were happy to offer me the position then there was no way I could be disrespectful and not take it.
“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.
“I’ll take my chances and hopefully we’ll get more positive results than negative ones.
“It’s not going to turn overnight. We’ve got to get it right between now and the end of the season.
“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.”