Dalglish inspired by Liverpool challenge
Published 23/02/2011 | 15:15
Kenny Dalglish admits he has found a new zest for life since being asked to return to the Liverpool manager's hotseat almost seven weeks ago.
Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the end of Dalglish's first spell as Anfield boss and the contrast in his demeanour from that day could not be more marked.
The Scot stepped down in 1991 as the pressures of the job and the emotional burden of the Hillsborough disaster two years previously took their toll.
Dalglish later returned to football with Blackburn, Newcastle and Celtic but had been out of frontline management for 10 years when Roy Hodgson's departure opened up the possibility of a dramatic Liverpool return as caretaker last month.
The 59-year-old, who became a grandfather again early this week when his son Paul's partner gave birth to twins, said: "I didn't envisage I was going to get to where I was 20 years ago and have to leave - but yesterday was a much better day than it was 20 years ago.
"But it was unavoidable and I am a very fortunate person to be asked to come back.
"It is a great honour to be back - the club means an awful lot to an awful lot of people and I am certainly one of them.
"To be asked to come back was really a big stroke of luck for me, I'm delighted with the way it's happened.
"I didn't know it was seven weeks, but every day you come in and there's something new to be done and every day you look forward to getting up out of bed, which is good.
"It's been a change, but it's been very rewarding and worthwhile for me and I just hope other people are enjoying it as much as I am."
Dalglish has breathed new life into Liverpool's season after a miserable six months under Hodgson.
The Reds are unbeaten in seven matches and, now sixth, back in with a chance of finishing in the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
They can also clinch a place in the last 16 of the Europa League tomorrow night.
Liverpool are locked at 0-0 with Sparta Prague heading into the second leg of their first knockout round tie at Anfield.
In another milestone for Dalglish, the match will also be his first as Liverpool manager at home in European competition.
He said: "I'm sure tomorrow night is going to be special but it's more important that we get a result because, if we do, that will make it even more worthwhile.
"For me, I'm only a small part of it and although I am really looking forward to it and it's a great honour to be in charge of Liverpool on a European night, it will more enjoyable if we get a result.
"The result is more important than the pre-match show."
Such is the enthusiasm Kop legend Dalglish has installed at Anfield that the match, despite being in an unfashionable competition and kicking off at 6pm, is a sell-out.
He added: "Anfield has had some memorable evenings.
"European nights are always special for many clubs, but certainly for this club.
"Tomorrow night is obviously an earlier kick-off than we're used to and it will take a bit of adjustment from the players and the fans, but I'm sure that won't deter them from giving us their full support.
"We've got to get them onside early doors. The responsibility is on us to go and win the game, but fortunately for us that's nothing new.
"The responsibility has been on us many times to go and win games."
Liverpool are again likely to be without their talismanic captain Steven Gerrard due to a groin injury, although the England midfielder is making good progress.
Gerrard trained apart from the rest of the first-team squad today and is more likely to return at West Ham on Sunday.
"Steven is not too far away but whether he is going to play Thursday remains to be seen," said Dalglish.
Dalglish has also played down speculation that new signing Andy Carroll's debut is imminent.
Carroll joined the Reds in a surprise £35million deal on transfer deadline day last month but is yet to play because of a thigh injury.
Dalglish, who along with Carroll was spotted at a Boyzone concert earlier this week, said: "He's close to full training and involved with the lads for parts of the training, but as I said there is no need to get carried away.
"There's not going to be a surprise announcement that he's playing tomorrow night."