Managers - Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish
Birthdate: 4 March 1951
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Other clubs as manager:
Arrived from: LFC player
Signed for LFC: 30 May 1985
LFC league games as manager: 224
Total LFC games as manager: 307
Honours: League Championship 1985/86, 1987/88, 1989/90; FA Cup 1986, 1989; Manager of the Year 1986, 1988, 1990
First game in charge: 17.08.1985
Contract Expiry: 21.02.1991

Manager Profile

Kenny Dalglish became the first player-manager in the club's glorious history and also had to deal with Liverpool's ban in Europe. It wasn't the easiest of tasks but Dalglish was modest and somewhat prophetic: "I would be the first to realise if I wasn't good enough and then I would confront it."

Dalglish was ably assisted by Paisley in his first two years. Virtually the first thing he had to do was replace the victorious fullbacks of the Paisley era, Phil Neal and Alan Kennedy with Nicol and Beglin. Kenny also decided to change the team's playing style using the Big Dane Jan Molby as a sweeper. Man Utd looked like running away with the league but Liverpool caught up with them and none other than the boss himself secured the title in the last league game of the season vs Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool celebrated the double by beating Everton 3-1 in the FA cup final and Dalglish had already written a new chapter in Liverpool's history. Liverpool turned out empty handed for only the third time in 15 years at the end of the following season.

Golden boy Rush had gone to Italy and it was clear Dalglish had to rebuild his strikeforce. John Aldridge had signed in February and he bought John Barnes and Peter Beardsley in the summer of 1987. Liverpool didn't stumble in the league until the 20th of March. LFC had played 29 games, won 22, drawn 7, lost none and scored 65 goals and conceded 13. The title was secured with four games to go, the only disappointment when Liverpool lost unexpectedly in the FA cup final vs. Wimbledon. This wasn't Joe Fagan's team or Bob Paisley's team. This team played a more offensive football than the previous teams and was more about individual play of great players even though the team spirit was high. This was Kenny Dalglish's team.

The 1988-89 season was marked by the return of Ian Rush, the Hillsborough tragedy and the crucial championship decider against Arsenal. Liverpool regained Ian Rush, lost the championship in the most dramatic of circumstances, but all paled in comparison when 96 supporters lost their lives. Football had lost its significance.

Liverpool lost only 1 game out of 35 from 3rd of January to 14th of October 1989. Liverpool won the Championship race for the 18th time and Dalglish was voted Manager of the year for the third time in five years. It's fair to say that the press went over the top in their critique of Dalglish and his team in the 1990/91 season. Kenny was criticised left, right and centre. His team was getting old, his new signing, Jimmy Carter, didn't bed-in, Liverpool were too defensive and Dalglish himself was called boring, miserable and sulky. By 9 February 1991 following a 3-1 win over Everton in the League Liverpool had a three-point lead on Arsenal at the top of the table. The Reds had scored 46 goals in 24 games, 1.91 on average, hardly the performance of a team frightened to attack. Liverpool were to meet the Blues again, in the sixth round of the FA Cup. A goalless draw at Anfield forced a replay at Goodison Park. Liverpool took the lead three times, but Tony Cottee equalised one minute from normal time. In extra-time Liverpool were in front once more, but another goal from Cottee in the 113th minute meant a second replay had to take place. Dalglish told reporters: "if there has ever been any better cup-ties than that, then I wish that someone would send me a video of them. I have never been involved in a game like that before." 

The next morning Dalglish attended a meeting that was held every month with White and Robinson. Twenty minutes in Dalglish stunned them into silence by saying: 'I want to resign.' 'Why?,' asked White finally. 'I’ve had enough. I need a break. I just feel as if my head is exploding.' 'I want to go now.' Today.' Robinson offered him a sabbatical but Kenny had made his mind up. At 4pm Liverpool held an emergency Board meeting at which they reluctantly accepted his resignation and shortly after 11am on 22 February 1991 White said to the disbelieving press: 'Thank you for coming on such short notice. I’m going to read a short statement: With great regret I have to say that Kenny Dalglish has requested to the Board of Liverpool to resign as manager.' Kenny's famous last words to the press on the 22nd of February were: "This is the first time since I came to the club that I take the interest of Kenny Dalglish over Liverpool Football Club. This is not a sudden decision. The worst I could have done was not to decide. One could argue that this decision hadn't come at a good time but there is no good time in cases like this. The main problem is the pressure I put on myself because of my strong desire to succeed. The stress that comes right before and after games has got the better of me. Some might have difficulty understanding my decision but this decision stands. I would be betraying everyone if I wouldn't let them know there is something wrong. I have been involved with football since I was 17. Twenty years with the two most successful teams in Britain, Celtic and Liverpool. I've been at the front all these years and it is time to end it."

A little while later at the Lime Street train station in Liverpool the announcer read the typical announcements about the delays of the trains but added apologetically: "Kenny Dalglish has resigned as Liverpool manager, I just thought you’d like to know that." Dalglish revealed in his autobiography the reason for his resignation. "Although I didn’t realise it at the time, Hillsborough was the most important factor in my decision to leave Liverpool in 1991. In truth, I had wanted to leave Anfield in 1990, a year before I eventually resigned. In the 22 months between Hillsborough and my resignation, the strain kept growing until I finally snapped. By christmas my body was covered in big blotches. A few even appeared on my face. I saw a doctor nearly every day for injections. He used to come to the ground, bend me over, give me injection in one cheek and send me home like a pin-cushion. I would go to bed, wake up the next morning, go back to the ground and try to start again. I don’t know whether the rash resulted from the general strain. My lack of tolerance towards the children probably upset me even more than it did them. I hated to see the surprise and hurt on the faces of my children when I bawled at them. As a player, I was pretty much teetotal because I was dedicated to my profession but in the period before I resigned I used to drink wine so I could me more sociable with my family. After Hillsborough, Marina began learning about counselling and tried to counsel me. But my family could see how desperately I needed a break, I was unwell and under strain. I started having doubts about myself and my ability to make decisions. In the past I would just make the decision, usually more right than wrong and move on without thinking. Now I agonized over anything."

Dalglish admitted later that he would have returned to work at Liverpool at the end of the summer. "If Liverpool had asked me to carry on as manager the moment I returned from Florida, I’d have jumped at the chance because my batteries were recharged. Sadly, they never asked. While in Orlando, I received a phone call to tell me Graeme Souness had got the job and I felt a twinge of regret."

Another Liverpool legend had gone from Anfield.

Competition Total Won Draw Lost Goals for Goals against
Grand totals 381 223 94 64 732 332
League 280 160 69 51 519 244
FA Cup 45 28 12 5 97 39
League Cup 38 25 7 6 86 36
Europe 4 1 2 1 1 1
Other 14 9 4 1 29 12
Matches that are won or lost in a penalty shoot-out are counted as a win/loss not as a draw.
Related Articles
Kenny admits why he quit Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish admits the strain of the Hillsborough disaster caused him to quit Liverpool.

Top marks for Dalglish

Player-manager Dalglish seals the league win against Chelsea.

The worst thing I could have done was carry on

Dalglish quit Liverpool on 21.02.1991.

Two-goal Cottee earns Everton another chance

Match report from The Daily Telegraph on 20.02.1991

Dalglish wide-boys narrowing the gap

Match report from 05.03.1994 on Blackburn Rovers - Liverpool from The Daily Express.

Related Quotes

"Kenny Dalglish knew his players. We never even had any set pieces really. He just went out and said 'Go and beat them'. We never worked on patterns of play, which people would be amazed at now."

John Aldridge

"Kenny’s transition to manager was so smooth. He was amazing because he combined being your mate and being your boss at the same time. Not many more managers could pull that off and it was tricky sometimes because you didn’t know of he was talking to you as a mate or a boss. Having said that, he used to always have a go at me more anyway. I was his whipping boy."

Gary Gillespie on Kenny Dalglish as manager

"Liverpool always outed at the first sign of decline. Then they'd give a new player a season or two to look at the scene before moving into the first team. I can tell you when I was a manager there, I never enjoyed such a luxury. Kenny came through Heysel and Hillsborough with some of his players. He'd become so emotionally involved with the whole Liverpool thing that he found it hard to say thanks, but no thanks. Then I came along and my job was to move all the people away. So I was the bad guy. Nobody's ever written or said that. Sure, I know I made mistakes, both in my manner and the way in which I tried to change things too quickly. But everyone accepted that that when I took the job that it was the most difficult period for the club in its recent history. We managed to win the cup in my 2 and 1/2 years, but my timing was all wrong. Players like Redknapp, McManaman and Fowler were waiting to flourish, but were still too young."

Souness on his time as manager of Liverpool

"If Liverpool had waited until the summer, and then asked me to go back as manager, I would have gone back."

Kenny Dalglish, having had time to reflect on standing down as Liverpool manager in 1991

"Liverpool practiced small-sided games every day and it was high-intensity stuff. We used to do a very light warm-up, jog around the field a couple of times to loosen the limbs, do a few stretches, put the cones down for goals and then go into five-a-side or eight -a-side. t was the same every single day. There was no tactical work, none whatsoever. All the strategic stuff was done within the small sided games. Liverpool believed that everything we faced in five-a-sides would be encountered again on match day. That was why the five-a-sides were so competitive. Liverpool’s training characterised Liverpool’s play – uncomplicated but devastatingly effective."

John Barnes talking about his Liverpool days when Dalglish was in charge

“When Joe told us he wanted to finish, the chairman (John Smith) appointed a sub-committee of four people – I don’t think this has ever been said – comprising himself, myself, Bob Paisley and Tom Saunders. Tom was little-known but had made a tremendous contribution over the years and was youth development officer. We had a situation with that little committee where we all knew Kenny Dalglish in different ways, we had all dealt with him in different ways. We did discuss it at length, it wasn’t an immediate decision and at the end of the day we came down unanimously in favour of Kenny. In life you either get decisions right or wrong and that was one we got right …”

Peter Robinson Chief executive in the Daily Express on 14 December 1989

Players bought
Player Club Fee Date
Steve McMahon Aston Villa £350,000 6 September 1985
Mike Hooper Wrexham £40,000 24 October 1985
John Durnin Waterloo Dock £500 29 March 1986
Barry Venison Sunderland £200,000 25 July 1986
Steve Staunton Dundalk £20,000 18 August 1986
Alan Irvine Falkirk £75,000 24 November 1986
John Aldridge Oxford United £750,000 27 January 1987
Nigel Spackman Chelsea £400,000 24 February 1987
John Barnes Watford £900,000 9 June 1987
Peter Beardsley Newcastle United £1,900,000 14 July 1987
Mike Marsh Kirkby Town Free 21 August 1987
Ray Houghton Oxford United £825,000 18 October 1987
Nick Tanner Bristol Rovers £20,000 30 June 1988
Ian Rush Juventus £2,800,000 18 August 1988
David Burrows WBA £550,000 20 October 1988
Barry Jones Prescot Cables £500 16 January 1989
Steve Harkness Carlisle United £75,000 11 July 1989
Glenn Hysén Fiorentina £600,000 15 July 1989
Ronny Rosenthal Standard Liege £1,000,000 26 June 1990
Tony Cousins Dundalk £70,000 2 October 1990
Don Hutchison Hartlepool United £175,000 26 November 1990
Jimmy Carter Millwall £800,000 10 January 1991
Jamie Redknapp Bournemouth £350,000 14 January 1991
David Speedie Coventry City £675,000 30 January 1991
Players sold
Player Club Fee Date
Phil Thompson Sheffield United Free March 1985
Alan Kennedy Sunderland £100,000 20 September 1985
Bob Bolder Sunderland Free October 1985
Phil Neal Bolton Wanderers Free 18 December 1985
Sammy Lee QPR £200,000 26 August 1986
John McGregor Free Transfer Free * May 1987
Ian Rush Juventus £3,200,000 1 July 1987
Alan Irvine Dundee United £100,000 28 August 1987
Mark Seagraves Manchester City £100,000 23 September 1987
Ken De Mange Leeds United £75,000 24 September 1987
Brian Mooney Preston North End £82,000 9 November 1987
John Wark Ipswich Town £100,000 4 January 1988
Paul Walsh Tottenham £500,000 15 February 1988
Nigel Spackman QPR £500,000 1 February 1989
John Durnin Oxford United £300,000 9 February 1989
Jim Beglin Free Transfer Free * 15 May 1989
Kevin MacDonald Free Transfer Free * 15 May 1989
John Aldridge Real Sociedad £1,250,000 14 September 1989
Jim Magilton Oxford United £100,000 2 October 1990
Alex Watson Bournemouth £150,000 14 January 1991
Players used
Player Appearances Minutes Goals Assists
Bruce Grobbelaar 266 23997 0 1
Ronnie Whelan 257 22783 27 22
Steve McMahon 253 21790 49 27
Steve Nicol 232 20558 28 27
Ian Rush 226 19534 130 35
Alan Hansen 212 18827 1 8
Gary Gillespie 181 15496 15 7
Jan Mølby 172 13679 40 31
John Barnes 168 14869 70 54
Peter Beardsley 161 13431 59 39
Barry Venison 137 11333 1 9
Ray Houghton 136 11759 23 29
Craig Johnston 133 10349 19 22
Mark Lawrenson 126 10594 5 6
Gary Ablett 111 9615 1 10
John Aldridge 104 8143 63 19
David Burrows 89 7320 0 6
Jim Beglin 83 7376 1 7
Steve Staunton 77 6043 6 14
Glenn Hysén 75 6721 2 4
Paul Walsh 73 5335 24 19
Pepe Reina 69 6233 0 0
Martin Skrtel 68 5781 5 1
Dirk Kuyt 67 4395 16 6
Nigel Spackman 63 4742 0 3
Kenny Dalglish 61 4261 15 19
Andy Carroll 56 3472 11 4
Luis Suarez 52 4360 21 9
Jamie Carragher 48 3874 0 0
Jordan Henderson 48 3503 2 2
Glen Johnson 46 3970 2 3
Stewart Downing 46 3221 2 2
Daniel Agger 44 3553 2 1
Jose Enrique 43 3696 0 2
Mike Hooper 42 3723 0 0
Kevin MacDonald 40 2478 5 6
Jay Spearing 38 2936 0 2
Lucas Leiva 37 3276 0 0
John Wark 37 2309 13 4
Craig Bellamy 37 1826 9 7
Charlie Adam 35 2666 2 6
Maxi Rodriguez 35 2457 13 3
Steven Gerrard 34 2518 9 6
Martin Kelly 30 2400 1 1
Jonjo Shelvey 28 1136 2 2
Ronny Rosenthal 27 1262 11 3
Sammy Lee 26 2142 0 2
Raul Meireles 25 1830 5 5
Phil Neal 16 1343 1 1
Jon Flanagan 15 1105 0 0
Fábio Aurélio 14 677 0 0
Joe Cole 13 447 1 0
Sebastian Coates 12 845 1 0
David N'Gog 12 339 0 0
Alex Watson 9 606 0 0
Alan Kennedy 8 720 0 0
Sotirios Kyrgiakos 8 580 0 0
Danny Wilson 6 515 0 0
Christian Poulsen 6 366 0 0
Fernando Torres 5 437 3 0
Jimmy Carter 5 385 0 0
Jack Robinson 4 327 0 0
Nick Tanner 4 298 0 0
Alexander Doni 4 295 0 0
Alan Irvine 4 164 0 0
Mike Marsh 4 158 0 0
David Speedie 3 240 3 0
John Durnin 3 176 0 0
Raheem Sterling 3 26 0 0
Mark Seagraves 2 180 0 0
Brad Jones 2 154 0 0
Milan Jovanovic 2 107 0 0
Steve McManaman 2 14 0 0
Brian Mooney 1 30 0 0
Ryan Babel 1 30 0 0
Champions and King Kenny is crowned - 13 May 1986
Champions and King Kenny is crowned - 13 May 1986
Cheers Kenny! - August 1990
Cheers Kenny! - August 1990
Cover of Mirror Sport special for the 1986 FA Cup final
Cover of Mirror Sport special for the 1986 FA Cup final
Dalglish at the helm to steer Reds through safe final passage - 25 February 1987
Dalglish at the helm to steer Reds through safe final passage - 25 February 1987
Duelling giants - Nigel Clough vs. Kenny Dalglish - 1989
Duelling giants - Nigel Clough vs. Kenny Dalglish - 1989
Great goals - 25 February 1987
Great goals - 25 February 1987
How about that for a finish? - 3 May 1986
How about that for a finish? - 3 May 1986
Kenny Dalglish on the cover of Shoot! as boss 1985-1989
Kenny Dalglish on the cover of Shoot! as boss 1985-1989
Kenny is not ready
Kenny is not ready
Kenny kops the lot! - Sunday Mirror 10 May 1986
Kenny kops the lot! - Sunday Mirror 10 May 1986
Kenny stood here (cartoon)
Kenny stood here (cartoon)
Kenny's from heaven -12 August 1990
Kenny's from heaven -12 August 1990
Kenny's king of the Kop! - 16 May 1989
Kenny's king of the Kop! - 16 May 1989
My decision - 23 December 1986
My decision - 23 December 1986
No soccer Messiah at Blackburn
No soccer Messiah at Blackburn
One for the family album - Liverpool Echo 13 May 1986
One for the family album - Liverpool Echo 13 May 1986
Poster of Kenny from the 1989/90 season
Poster of Kenny from the 1989/90 season
Reds rocked by Dalglish stunner - February 1991
Reds rocked by Dalglish stunner - February 1991
The Dalglish dynasty - 11 August 1987
The Dalglish dynasty - 11 August 1987
The subtle superman! - 1988
The subtle superman! - 1988
The ultimate team man - January 1991
The ultimate team man - January 1991
Title number 18!
Title number 18!
King Kenny manager of the decade - Daily Mirror from 1 January 1990
My finest hour! - Daily Mirror on 22 May 1989
New kid on the Kop - Paul Dalglish on 3 May 1990