Tuesday 27 June 2017

Gerrard backs Dalglish to stay on as manager

Mark Ogden

Steven Gerrard claims Kenny Dalglish is the "perfect person" to revive Liverpool and the right man to assume the manager's position at Anfield beyond his initial five-month interim appointment.

Dalglish's return as manager at Liverpool -- following Roy Hodgson's dismissal 11 days ago -- has yet to bear fruit on the pitch, with the team losing two and drawing one of their three games under the Scot, who guided the club to three league titles in his initial six-year reign as manager between 1985 and 1991.

The long-term plan of Fenway Sports Group, the club's owners, is to identify a young, progressive coach to take charge of the team and work in tandem with director of football Damien Comolli.

But with Dalglish's return installing stability and a tangible feel-good factor in the wake of the dark days which preceded Hodgson's departure, Liverpool captain Gerrard -- who will serve the final game of a three-match suspension during Saturday's trip to relegation rivals Wolves -- insists he is determined to help ensure that the 59-year-old remains at the helm beyond the end of this season.

"I want to do everything in my power to ensure that he (Dalglish) stays here for a long time, beyond the initial six months," Gerrard said.

"I won't lie. When Kenny rang to say he was coming back it was a big lift. I'd love nothing better, when the end of the season comes, than for us to be on the back of a good run of results that ensures he gets the job full-time.

"That's my short-term plan, to give everything I've got and all my energy to try to make that happen."

With Hodgson's final days being scarred by his unfavourable comments about the club's support and negativity from the terraces, Gerrard believes that Dalglish is a unifying figure on and off the pitch at Anfield.

"He is the perfect manager, and also person, to bring it all together," said Gerrard. "It's time to regroup and for us all to be pulling in the right direction because this season certainly hasn't been good enough.

"I love Kenny as a person and I've certainly enjoyed the first few days we've had working with him. I can see a positive future for Kenny at the club.

"I think he's the perfect person to get everyone moving in the right direction again. He's the talisman at this club. His nickname, the King, says it all really."

Sympathy

However, Gerrard had some sympathy for Hodgson: "I found Roy great to work with during the time he was here. I was very down and sad for him because he's a good man and I had a good relationship with him. It's a shame it didn't work out for him. I think he's gone out in a dignified way.

"Everyone who has been involved in football for a long time knows that it's all about results, especially at this club.

"The fans and people here don't settle for the results we've had since the start of the season. It hasn't been good enough. The disappointing thing for me -- and everyone in football -- is that just one man always gets the blame and that's the manager.

"I think it's important for us players not to hide behind that. We all have to share the responsibility for the position we're in at the moment."

Ryan Babel is another man on his way out of Anfield after Liverpool accepted a £5.9m bid from German club Hoffenheim yesterday afternoon, with the Dutch forward travelling to Germany to discuss personal terms.

German newspaper 'Bild' had earlier quoted Hoffenheim's main financial backer Dietmar Hopp as saying that the club were in an "emergency situation" owing to the probable departure of striker Demba Ba and an injury to Chinedu Obasi.

"Babel was one of the preferred candidates who our manager Ernst Tanner was most convinced by," Hopp explained.

Should Babel join Hoffenheim, he would be the first player from the Liverpool first-team squad to depart since the various changes to the club hierarchy in recent months.

In October last year, the club was bought by New England Sports Ventures, and is now run by John W Henry and Tom Werner, through the subsidiary Fenway Sports Group.

Henry was in Liverpool for Sunday's Merseyside derby and he discussed signings with Dalglish. The club have been watching Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, currently at Babel's former club Ajax.

Babel was signed from Ajax for £11.5m by Rafael Benitez in July 2007, having impressed in the European U-21 Championship that summer.

In three and a half seasons at Anfield, he scored 21 goals in 142 appearances, 65 of which were starts. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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