Sixer’s Sentiments on Aston Villa and Liverpool: two Americans, two sackings

Another Sixer study by Jake

Pete Sixsmith casts an eye over the turmoil at Villa Park and Anfield …

No sooner has the dust settled on the most exciting Premier League finish since the last most exciting Premier League finish, than we have two managers given the old heave-ho by their clubs.

Alex McLeish was out of the door at Villa Park before the ink was dry on the morning papers and the legend that is Kenny Dalglish joined him on Wednesday after what was probably an acrimonious meeting in Boston.

McLeish’s dismissal came as no surprise. The Villa fans had never taken to him and the vitriol poured from the terraces as they just avoided relegation in their penultimate game. Apparently, the final day’s performance at Carrow Road didn’t so much hammer nails into his coffin as weld them in with an indestructible flux.

His was a poor appointment, as bizarre as if we’d taken Joe Kinnear after the Mags went down. His football was boring and one wonders whether the number of “injuries” Villa suffered was political rather than medical. Charles N’Zogbia was his marquee signing last summer; he looked more like a threadbare Millett’s pop-up tent by May.

Dalglish is a different matter. He was, and still is, a revered figure among Liverpool fans. He was a sublime player, one of the best I have ever seen, and in his first spell as manager he showed intelligence and integrity. He represented the club, the city and the fans with real dignity over Hillsborough and emerged as much more than a football manager.

At Blackburn, he had more or less unlimited funds and won the title, but he had a poor time at Newcastle and few of their fans have fond memories of him. Ten years out of the game and back he came to Liverpool to rescue the club from a relegation struggle.

Having said that, Dalglish should be a hero in the North East, principally for giving our two PL clubs £55m. Steve Bruce used the Jordan Henderson £20m to bring in the bulk of his summer signings, while Ashley allowed Pardew to spend some of the £35m he got for Kevin-Kyle-with-a-ponytail on Ba, Cabaye and, eventually Cissé. No arguments about that deal among the Tyneside faithful.

See the Salut! Sunderland ‘Who are You?” awards: Villa fan takes first prize, Liverpool supporter is second …

The constant referrals to Dalglish as “King Kenny” irritated me, and, as those who know me will tell you, I am not easily irritated (yes you are – Ed). He made a series of catastrophic blunders over the Suarez case and it is likely that he will be haunted forever by those crass t-shirts that were worn at Wigan.

The end came after an insipid defeat at Swansea, meaning that the once mighty Reds finished below Everton for the first time since Adam was a lad, 17 points light of the mythical fourth place and CL qualification and a staggering 37 points behind the top two.

What do both Villa and the Fading Reds have in common? American owners. Which other club has an American owner? We do.

How much do they really understand the football culture in this country? Randy Lerner is getting some stick from Villa fans now, but when he came in and bought the club, he was hailed a hero. He read his Villa history, restored the derelict Holte Hotel and was seen as a model owner. Two disastrous managerial appointments later, he is no longer seen as a saviour, more a stumbler.

The Fenway Sports Group prevented Liverpool from a possible administration when they bought out the Abbott and Costello look-alikes who previously owned the club. They had a plan which said CL football, a new ground and a bright future under a club legend. All those dreams have crumbled.

Lerner and FSG have backgrounds in sports ownership. Lernerowns the Cleveland Browns NFL team, inherited from his father and with a fairly dismal recent record. FSG own the iconic Boston Red Sox who play at the even more iconic Fenway Park. Generally, they have been good owners and restored the old stadium to its former glories – but they had a poor season last year and are having a shocker so far this.

The other American owners in the league don’t sack managers, but they have neutered the buying power of Manchester United considerably over the years and it is only the strength of SAF that keeps United together. When he goes, I can foresee a major collapse at Old Trafford. We await that day with undisguised glee.

Ellis Short has been a quiet owner so far. He appointed and sacked a manager who promised much but achieved little. He replaced him with a man the vast majority of Sunderland fans had wanted as manager for years. He has put money into the club and seen a fair bit of it wasted by the previous two managers.

This coming season may well be the one where Short looks carefully at his emotional and financial investment in Sunderland AFC. We may have to accept that our club will never again win the league title, despite its long and glorious history. Will he be prepared to settle for adequate season after adequate season? Or will he lose interest as Lerner appears to have done or be overwhelmed by the experience of running a PL club, which is as FSG appear to behave?

The Quiet American is a Graham Greene novel where the eponymous figure advocates a third way for smaller, less powerful countries. Maybe Ellis Short sees a different way ahead for us: get it right on the field and wait for the Fair Play ruling to knock out the likes of City and Chelsea, whose owners’ buying power is distorting the competitive element of the Premier League.

Of course, it could all go wrong if Liverpool take a fancy to O’Neill. Here’s hoping they don’t.

8 thoughts on “Sixer’s Sentiments on Aston Villa and Liverpool: two Americans, two sackings”

  1. “Charles N’Zogbia was his marquee signing last summer; he looked more like a threadbare Millett’s pop-up tent by May.”

    Absolutely vintage stuff, great article.

  2. I know what you mean, Goldy, but it was Kinnear who gave Mary Poppins so little to work on. But I’ll go with the take on Shearer because I don’t like him.

  3. Great article but I’m not having it that Kinnear took Newcastle down! He may have helped cause the damage but it will ALWAYS be Shearer who took Newcastle down. 🙂 🙂

  4. You make a good point, Phil, though there’s no shortage of arrogant managers and Dalglish’s arrogance really just echoed that of the team as a whole. Yes, he could have handled the Suarez thing better and apologized a lot more quickly and readily but at least he had the guts, however ill-advisedly, to stand by his player.
    I hate the idea of a football club becoming a brand; it takes so much out of the game. I suspect that never entered Dalglish’s thinking and now he’s paying the price. He remains, in my eyes at least, a damned good manger who’s been handed a raw deal.

    • I could not agree more, Bill, to your comment regarding football clubs being viewed as a “brand” but, I think, that it is now a fact of life, especially, with foreign owners to whom image in overseas markets is all important – I would guess that Ellis Short sees SAFC in that way, hence the activity in Africa & Asia.

      Coming back to Dalglish (the manager), I know he was ultra successful during his first tenure, at LFC, but IMHO he was the man who destroyed the “Liverpool Way” by, deliberately dismantling the legacy of Shankly & Paisley.

      When he was appointed as player/manager two of the first things that he did were to sack the chief scout (Twentyman?) and scrap the reserve team.

      The same chief scout who had been instrumental in Rush, Hansen et al (including himself) joining the club and the same reserve team that then schooled new signings so that they could be inserted, seamlessly, into the first eleven.

      Instead, they started behaving as most other clubs who signed players for their first teams, with everything being viewed in the short term, rather than thinking of the future.

      Initially, this was very successful due in no small part to the “fear factor” that still existed, when playing LFC but became less so as that diminished and he left behind a team that was, totally, unsuited to playing in european competitions, when Liverpool were re-admitted to them,

      The well oiled machine was gone and has yet to be, successfully, rebuilt.

      As an aside, I think that any club (if they had invested in excess of £100M on new players) would be questioning the performace of the manager, if they only achieved LFC’s points last season – including ours!!

      It is only the, delusional, scousers who seem to think KD’s record was acceptable!

  5. “Kenny Dalglish has been fired for no good reason at all, simply spite because someone took Liverpool’s ball away once too often.”

    I’m sorry Bill, I can’t agree with you on that one.

    Leaving aside his abysmal points total, when compared to the backing he received, I think the major problem was the way he, continually, damaged the LFC “brand”.

    That, to an American is inexcusable!

    Just cast your mind back to his attitude, regarding the Suarez affair, then add that to his arrogance at press conferences.

    Every time KD opened his mouth Fenway must have been squirming with embarrassment whilst watching their sponsors do the same.

    That, for me, is the reason that KD was sacked (and rightly so) although the whole sad episode was, in many ways, highly entertaining for the neutral it cannot have been so to those who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars, only to become a laughing stock!

  6. I wonder if O’Neill would even consider Liverpool if he was offered the job. I think he’d figure he was much better off where he is.
    Once again, though, Dalglish’s firing points up the sense of entitlement that clubs like Liverpool have. They finished 8th in the Premiership (yes, 37 points behind Citeh and BrandU but only 4 behind Everton), were runners-up in the FA Cup and won the Carling Cup. And that’s not good enough! A scapegoat must be found and the fans were grumbling about Dalglish even with the Carling trophy still warm in their hands.
    The club is mired in the past – it’s 18 years since Liverpool’s last league title but they can’t get over the belief that it should be theirs by right.
    As Luke Harvey wrote in his recent tribute to Everton: “Sometimes we just have to hold our hands up and admit we were second-best… it is the mark of a strong-willed fan to grit teeth in the face of defeat and recognize that you can’t win them all.”
    Not if you’re a denizen of Anfield. Had Sunderland finished the season with Liverpool’s record, supporters would be painting the town red. And white. But we live in the real world, where no one owes us anything. What we get, we earn.
    Steve Bruce was fired for very good reason. Kenny Dalglish has been fired for no good reason at all, simply spite because someone took Liverpool’s ball away once too often. I wouldn’t want to be the manager who takes over from him. Before he does anything else, he’ll have to somehow surmount that mountain of attitude.

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