TEAMtalk guest Richard Kitto says Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has earned the right to be given more time to turn around the Reds' fortunes.
"The King reigns, but does not govern" - Louis Adolphe Thiers, French Politician.
For a club that emblazons a mythical bird on their crest, the return of Dalglish to Liverpool was seen as the moment that one of the most famous and fruitful clubs in world football finally rose from the ashes of past glory. For supporters, the tale has not quite played out as hoped, but the King still deserves another shot at success.
There is always such anticipation and expectation from the red half of Merseyside and their global following; especially with King Kenny restored to his previous seat on the throne. After all, this is a man who is unequivocally the greatest ever to wear a red shirt and had previously brought three league titles and two FA Cups to the team in the late 1980s as manager.
And it is these past glories that the fans cling on to, that they reminisce over and remind anyone within listening distance of. Those precious memories that still gives them the hope that 'next year is our year', and that next season Liverpool will be back where they belong fighting it out for top honours.
Seeing Dalglish in as manager again prompts this even further. But times have changed and goalposts must be moved and reconsidered. Liverpool are a long way short of the team that dominated the 1980s domestically, and across Europe, and Dalglish will not re-establish them as contenders overnight; he needs time, as much as fans and the media need patience.
And this one has been a strange season for Liverpool and their followers, surmised rather neatly, but not unsurprisingly, by their two recent contrasting performances against Chelsea.
It has seen the highs of beating Arsenal at The Emirates, Chelsea home and away in the league, and knocking both Manchester teams out of the domestic cup competitions. With the lows of losing to the likes of Wigan, Bolton and QPR, and their dreadful league run since the turn of the year, and a measly win ratio of 30 per cent at Anfield.
And it is this latter statistic that is the most noteworthy and has rightfully gained the most publicity. In previous campaigns the Reds could always rely on their form at home, especially when looking over the reins of both Rafael Benitez, who brought in Peter Crouch to combat their poor away form, and Roy Hodgson, whose terrible away record for both Liverpool and Fulham was common knowledge.
But statistics don't tell you everything, and for those that have regularly seen Liverpool play would openly admit that the team, and Dalglish, have been extremely unlucky in their pursuits this term. Generally speaking Liverpool have played very well all season (with three of the exceptions mentioned above) - in numerous games they have dominated possession, played exciting and attractive football, defended well, and created numerous chances on goal - but consistently fail to put teams to the sword, and the games beyond doubt.
It is unfair and unjust to place blame at the feet of Dalglish for this. After all, once he has picked his 11 men, analysed the opposition, set the formation and drilled the tactics into them, then the rest is up to the players to carry out what they are being paid so handsomely for. You may be able to take a horse to water, but you can't make it score when it should.
Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have taken a total of 210 shots in the Premier League this season and scored only 15 goals. Similarly, Stewart Downing has had 72 shots without scoring. They have become the first team since the 98/99 season to miss five penalties in a campaign, and have scored only one more goal in the league this season (47) than times they have hit the woodwork.
Obviously all the above cannot be bracketed as 'hard fortune', as there have certainly been occasions when the team (Carroll in particular) have been extremely profligate in front of goal. But Dalglish must be left wondering what else he could have done this season beyond lacing his boots up, slipping his shinnies in, and showing them how it should be done.
What is clear is that Liverpool need a genuine goalscorer, which appreciated is far easier said than done, but it is what they will certainly look for in the summer. With merely 11 to his name in the league, Suarez has been the most prolific in the front of goal for the Reds, in a season which has made him globally known for the wrong reasons and will be one to forget for the Uruguayan. Similarly the manner in which the situation was dealt with was one that Dalglish certainly could and should have handled better. An opinion which he freely admitted recently: "It would be done completely differently if it ever happened again - and I hope it never does."
Don't get me wrong, Dalglish is not infallible - he doesn't always get it right tactically as clearly shown at Wembley on Saturday, his surly relationship with the media does not help public opinion of the club which has been sullied for the aforementioned reason, and - regardless of the dismissal of Damien Commoli - Kenny must shoulder the blame for £80million worth of signings that have done nowhere near enough to justify the prices paid.
But he has brought stability to the club, which was absolutely essential after his arrival in January 2011. And, as he persisted on reiterating in his post-match interview on Tuesday night, he has brought them Carling Cup glory, lead them to the final of the FA Cup, and got them back into Europe. Finishing above their blue rivals would also be considered minor success for a city that lives and breathes football.
Whilst these achievements pale into insignificance compared to his past successes, Liverpool fans must be realistic and recognise that there is no quick win available here. Dalglish is certainly the man to take the Reds forward, for the next season at the very least, and has done enough this season to be given the opportunity. It's very rare to have your best ever player manage your club, and for different generations to be united in appreciation for one man, his talents, and his complete adoration for their team. That alone merits him the time to complete his unfinished business.