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Reds boss is King of spin

SOMETHING extraordinary is happening at Liverpool FC. A club mired in depression just a month ago is suddenly on the bounce WRITES JIM WHITE.

Optimism reigns where pessimism once stalked. Talk of Europe has replaced shudders about relegation. And yet an objective analysis of the facts might lead you to wonder how this change came about.

Put a different spin on the same sequence of events that took place this week, and things would have looked very different.

Imagine, for a moment, if it were not the present manager who had recruited Andy Carroll. Imagine if Roy Hodgson had clung on in the boot room a month longer and had been in charge during what was quickly christened 'Manic Monday'.

And imagine he had then, as circumstances conspired against him, as time ran out, come to the same conclusions as his successor, Kenny Dalglish.

If he had sanctioned the sale of Torres, the unequivocal hero of the Kop, and, seeking his replacement, £36m for a man who had scored 12 top-flight goals, would the crowd have stood united in welcome?

Would Torres -- now the Lord Haw-Haw of Merseyside -- have been villified? More likely the phone-in lines would have been jammed with angry fans.

Buy a replica? He's not fit to wear the shirt, they would have fumed. To replace our hero, Hodgson's gone and bought Paul Konchesky with a ponytail. As for Torres, well who could blame him wanting to escape from Roy? Who wouldn't?

The owners of Liverpool have great belief in systems. They followed the principles laid down in Michael Lewis' book 'Moneyball' to lead the Boston Red Sox back to the pinnacle. In sport, they reckon, objectivity is all.

Analysis, value, statistics: these are the things that deliver success. And yet at Liverpool, they have discovered that precisely the opposite seems to drive football in England.

It appears to be a game in which collective emotion can affect results, in which success is derived from positivity, in which spin is king. In a sense, it is a magnificent trick Dalglish has pulled off these past few weeks.

Before his appointment, he was criticised for being out of the game for 10 years. But he didn't need to be up-to-the-minute on the latest sports science techniques to understand that the main thing a manager can do is improve morale. His injection of insistent upbeat energy has revivified the club he loves.

The players are largely the same, the staff remain in place, yet the mood is altered beyond recognition. Everyone notices it the moment they walk into Anfield on a match day.

And if everyone is feeling better about themselves, then the players will play better, the results improve and a benevolent circle will develop.

It may not be the most sophisticated scientific approach, but it works.

Irish Independent