• New Anfield manager pays tribute to legendary successor
• Rodgers insists FSG has realistic ambitions for club
Brendan Rodgers has told Kenny Dalglish he is always welcome at Liverpool and believes the Scot’s presence at Anfield would inspire his challenge of restoring the club’s fortunes.
The new Liverpool manager claims an element of supporters would treat his appointment as Dalglish’s successor with scepticism even if he ended the club’s exhaustive wait for the Premier League title. But he has moved to avoid any possible rift with Dalglish personally by asking the Scot, sacked by Fenway Sports Group last month after winning the Carling Cup but finishing eighth in the league, not to keep his distance.
A previous Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgson, felt Dalglish’s presence as club ambassador undermined his brief spell in charge, with the Kop calling for the legend’s return as Hodgson’s tenure unravelled. But Rodgers said: “I have the ultimate respect for Kenny Dalglish. My door is always open for Kenny Dalglish. This is his home. He is the heart and soul of this club. His love for this club is unrivalled. He is the best player in the history of this club.
“I am not here to win any race or competition. This guy is a legend in the game and here at Liverpool Football Club. But what I know is history judges you as a manager and hopefully in time people will look back at what I have achieved here and I can walk beside these people. But there is no way I can try and overtake someone like Kenny Dalglish. All I can do is be myself. This is a prestigious club and this is a guy who has a wonderful history here and will continue to have a great future in terms of Liverpool. I can’t worry about that. The only way you can overcome that is by winning.”
Dalglish was sacked 12 months into a three-year contract despite ending Liverpool’s six-year wait for a trophy and reaching the FA Cup final, but falling way short of expectations in the Premier League. Rodgers, however, denies Liverpool’s owners lack perspective over the club’s position.
“I’ve had real open and honest discussions with the owners,” said Rodgers, who was powerless to prevent Dirk Kuyt leaving for Fenerbahce due to a £1m release clause in the Dutch international’s contract. “They are beginning this cycle of realism as well. There is no doubt they want to be winners, because I do as manager, and so do the supporters and players. But in order to do that the cycle has to begin somewhere.”
Liverpool’s array of former players in the media, and at Anfield on match-days, have aggravated several former managers who have struggled to recreate the club’s title-winning prowess. But Rodgers accepts criticism comes with the job description.
He said: “I respect every player who has played here and passed through the club’s history. There are three types of supporters at every club. No1 is those who love their club and love their manager whoever it is because Liverpool is their life and their passion. The second group is supporters who will accept you but to earn their real respect you have to be successful. That’s fine.
“The third group are the critics and you never change them ever. Ever. If you win 4-0 it should have been five, if you win one league title you should have won three. I will never worry about that group because you can never change them. I understand that not everybody will want me here. But that’s part of the dance.”