Stoppage Time: Dalglish still remains King at Liverpool
(Sports Network) - Kenny Dalglish is a true Liverpool legend in every sense of the word. So his second stint as the club's manager, which lasted 16 months and came to an end on Wednesday, will ultimately serve as little more than a footnote when looking back at all he has done at Anfield.
At the moment, it's hard not to feel a bit of disappointment when assessing the past 16 months of King Kenny's second reign, which did bring about the first trophy in six years at Liverpool, but also a dismal performance in the league.
However, he will always be remembered in the most positive of light for his 14 years of service as a player and manager from 1977-1991, during which time Liverpool enjoyed one of its most successful spells in the club's illustrious history.
During his playing career, Dalglish was one of the best strikers that the English League has ever seen, and he etched his name into Liverpool lore by scoring over 100 goals and appearing in more than 350 games for the Reds.
Liverpool enjoyed a fantastic run of success during Dalglish's playing career, winning five league titles and three European Cups.
His success as a player also translated to his managerial career, with Dalglish capturing three more league championships, including one as a player- manager and two FA Cups during a six-year run as Liverpool boss.
With his place in club history already secured, it would have been easy for Dalglish to let his legacy speak for itself, but he returned to the sidelines in January 2011 at the request of the club's new owners to replace the fired Roy Hodgson.
The move seemed like a way for the new ownership group to gain acceptance from fans by bringing back an all-time favorite in the hopes of stirring up some old magic.
In the beginning, Dalglish and Liverpool hit the ground running, signing a pair of high-priced strikers in Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez to replace Fernando Torres, who left that month for Chelsea.
Liverpool finished the season in sixth place, but seemed to respond to Dalglish and put together a strong finish to the campaign, raising expectations that this past season would see the club take another step toward returning to its glory days.
After spending $75 million on three players over the summer - Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson - many Liverpool fans had the belief that the club could realistically return to the top four in the league and maybe even had an outside chance at contending for the title.
However, Liverpool never really came close to living up to those expectations. And after ending the season in eighth place, four points behind rivals Everton and 17 points adrift of fourth-place Tottenham, there wasn't much of a decision to be made regarding the legendary coach.
Dalglish did bring a trophy to Anfield for the first time in six years when his team beat Cardiff City on penalty kicks in the Carling Cup final. And he had Liverpool in the FA Cup final as well before losing 2-1 to Chelsea.
But Liverpool is a club that needs to be in the Champions League and must be competitive at the top of the league table, two things that Dalglish failed to deliver.
"Of course, I am disappointed with results in the league, but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the club to be back winning trophies," Dalglish said on Wednesday.
Obviously, it didn't mean enough, and Liverpool's owners have every right to expect more after the kind of money they have invested in players over the past 16 months.
Dalglish came along at a time when the club was struggling and did his best to revive it and lay a strong foundation for the future, only to come up short.
What began as a popular move with so much promise eventually fizzled out into a 16-month tenure that simply failed to produce enough wins.
Yes, Liverpool spent the kind of money that should translate into greater success. But Dalglish's reputation shouldn't take a hit because he failed to turn around the team's fortunes in such a small window.
King Kenny will always wear the crown that he so rightfully earned for his service to the club.
The past 16 months have merely provided it with a few fingerprints.