With the sacking of Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool’s owners FSG have displayed their intentions and requirements more clearly than any statement could have done. Someone in possession of seemingly unwavering loyalty and support from fans, who got the club to two cup finals in the season just gone, and who delivered their first trophy in six years was sacked. The reason was Liverpool’s average league form, finishing 8th in the season just gone, allied to the expensive and mostly underwhelming transfer dealings, which also claimed the job of Director of Football Damien Comolli. The PR disasters which cascaded from Dalglish’s support for Luis Suarez probably also played a part, but in the main it was failing to meet expectations in the league which did for Dalglish. FSG demand more than 8th from whoever runs the team. It appears that anything less than Europa League qualification is a sackable offence, and even that over a prolonged period without Champions League qualification may not be enough. They are aiming high. Many a fan aware of the club’s history may well think they are right to demand that even if they disagree with Dalglish’s sacking.
For that reason, murmurings of interest in Alan Pardew have to be nothing more than internet-fuelled rumour. Pardew has had a very good season, having been voted Manager of the Year by the LMA on the strength of the lack of expectation as it began.. One 5th-placed finish does not qualify someone to take over at Liverpool however, where such a placing might be considered failure. Pardew’s success hasn’t just been unexpected of course, it’s been done with no net spend to speak of. Liverpool would provide him with very different levels of money at his disposal and a different strategy. In short, a completely different job to the one he has been so successful at. What’s true for Pardew also goes for Roberto Martinez and most other candidates initially suggested by a media obsessed with the short term and the Premier League. No, it will be a shock if Liverpool go for anyone other than someone with experience at the very least of success in Europe, and probably of Champions League victory. Their idea of a young up-and-coming manager might be someone like Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid, recent winner of the Europa League, rather than someone with a history of skin-of-the-teeth top-flight survival. More likely they will go for someone of the calibre of Capello or Ancellotti.
Newcastle have good reason to be delighted with Pardew, ably assisted by Chief Scout Graham Carr. It is difficult to see how the season could have gone any better. That’s signified best by the support now being expressed by fans not just for Pardew himself but also for Mike Ashley’s general stewardship of the club, unthinkable not so long ago. Much of that support for Ashley would evaporate should Pardew & Carr drop the ball and Newcastle go back to merely wishing to stay clear of relegation worries however, which would be a shame in one sense. If you agree with Mike Ashley’s financial policy you can’t change your mind because of a bad result or a poor run of form. Running the club in a financially sustainable manner is either correct or it isn’t. We should be prepared to take whatever results come with the policy if that is what we want. It’s easy to support financial prudence when it produces better results than extravagance. Of course a sizeable proportion of fans don’t care about the financial health of the club, their only interest being on-pitch performances. The natural reaction to a drop in that performance is to demand that money be spent, whether the club can cover the outlay or not. That attitude, while understandable, is short-sighted. The only way to create long-term success is to build it over time in a sustainable manner. If we learned one thing from the Shepherd years it’s that no good comes from over-reaching ourselves.