They say you should never meet your heroes, and sometimes you should never appoint them as your new manager either.
Kenny Dalglish has brought success back to Liverpool in the form of a League Cup – with chances of an FA Cup also tangible. But the team’s league form would make Roy Hodgson blush. And so would the signings. Dalglish has spent £114.2m on seven players, with the majority – suspect signings at the time of purchase – failing dismally.
The two pluses – Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique – have even generated ambivalence. Aside from Suarez’s distasteful behaviour, he has struggled to score goals while Enrique’s form this half of the season has not mirrored his near-faultless performances between August and December.
Spending such a vast amount of money only to take a club backwards (we shan’t dwell on Dalglish’s behaviour and the club’s regressive reputation as of a result of the Suarez race row) warrants action.
Dalglish is an Anfield icon, part of the club’s most successful era as player and manager, and the predicament appears to be he is perennially stuck in a time warp. His tactics are outdated and his excuse list is close to exhausting itself. Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to 19th placed Wigan saw “schedule” cited as the latest conspirator of Liverpool’s downfall. The problems are all in-house, however.
Welcome back Woods
The Tiger came to tee, and he teed well. Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour title since September 2009 at the Arnold Palmer International at Bay Hill - and the first since his philandering was exposed.
He had the home support from the gallery. "Welcome back, Tiger!" "Trophy time!" "It's a new day!" "Bring it home!" were just a few of the flurry of exclamations.
New ball game: Woods ended a two-and-a-half-year wait for a PGA gong
It was inevitable he would end his duck in the first half of this year after a solid tournament at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, and also when he threatened to steal Rory McIlroy's world number one thunder, scoring a majestic round of 62 at Florida's Palm Beach Gardens earlier this month.
It's good timing for the 36-year-old too. His form has progressed steadfastly as he travels to Augusta for the Masters next week, with the omens auspicious. Out of his four Masters wins, two have come off of the back of victory at Bay Hill.
Second season syndrome
Brendan Rodgers' Swansea have enjoyed a superb season, with the Swans floating serenely in 10th with 39 points. Safety is assured, yet the caveat is not whether their best players will be nabbed by bigger clubs, but if the team get distracted by the praise they have had lavished upon them.
Rodgers is an impressive manager who instils his side with a positive and attractive passing philosophy, but this is his and Swansea's first season in the Premier League, and it is too early to herald them just yet.
Reading finished 8th in their first promoted season in 2006/07 and manager Steve Coppell was touted for England. But they were relegated the following campaign and Coppell has retired from football management after a disastrous four-month stint at Bristol City in 2010.
Alan Pardew, a little over a year into his reign at Newcastle and level on points with Chelsea, is in the same boat.
“That’s a stray one from Vieira…”
Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t do much, but he’ll happily take the credit. In a week when Manchester City's football development executive Patrick Vieira made an accurate judgement of Manchester United bringing back a 37-year-old out of retirement, he still somehow set up Ferguson for an open goal.
It is displaying “weakness” to have Paul Scholes back, but it is also displaying desperation to make the impossible very much possible by enabling Carlos Tevez to return to your team, despite him disrespecting said team to the extent he laughed about a defeat. Ferguson and City haven’t gotten into mind games on a Keegan or Benitez scale, but the Citizens have felt the heat and blinked first.
A weekend draw at Stoke, which saw manager Roberto Mancini snub Tony Pulis because he was angry at the side’s approach, just happened to coincide with Ferguson ridiculing their attempts to engineer nerves at Old Trafford.
"Why say anything?"
Had Vieira remarked United’s midfield hasn’t been sufficiently addressed since the last year of Roy Keane’s Reds career and acknowledged City had done a U-turn over Tevez, it could have been a googly for Ferguson to negotiate. Instead he received a full toss and in one foul swoop hit City into the stands. Victory over Fulham tonight will only augment the Blues feeling blue.
Gatland the only man to get Lions roaring again
Last week’s Manic Monday mused on how Wales’ Grand Slam winning squad will likely dominate next year’s British and Irish Lions party, and now that could apply to the coaching set-up.
The Dragons’ coach, Warren Gatland, has been approached to take over the role which has been filled by Sir Ian McGeechan, Sir Clive Woodward and Graham Henry this century.
New Zealander Gatland would be an exceptional choice, not just for guiding Wales to two Grand Slams and the benefit of an established relationship with several personnel, but also because of his Southern Hemisphere experience.
He has transformed Wales from 2007 World Cup flops into one of rugby union’s best sides and is complemented by a renowned backroom staff consisting of Wales legends Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins, as well as Wasps coach and Lions 2009 alumni Shaun Edwards.
The Lions haven’t won a tour Test series since 1997’s success against South Africa, and with Henry already having been in charge during the 2-1 defeat to Australia in 2001, Gatland is the sole outstanding candidate.
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