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Opinion

Sir Kenny Dalglish – Ruined Newcastle United or just very very poor?

9 months ago
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News has broken that Kenny Dalglish will now become Sir Kenny Dalglish.

A legend as a player, he was brilliant.

When Kevin Keegan shocked Liverpool fans when deciding to leave in 1977, it was Kenny Dalglish they turned to.

In 1997 when Kevin Keegan decided to leave Newcastle United in January 1997, it was Kenny Dalglish who NUFC turned to.

At the time, Newcastle fans were devastated that Keegan had left, especially when things were still going more than ok on the pitch.

However, with it being mid-season and having no choice but to get on with it anyway, the Newcastle supporters did quickly see a lot of positives with Kenny Dalglish.

They would still rater have kept King Kev but maybe King Kenny could add a little bit more defensive nous to Keegan’s exciting team, just enough to turn them from runners-up into champions.

Kenny Dalglish confounded everybody really, as for the rest of that 1996/97 season he just kept things ticking along as they had been and actually as the season went on, arguably went even MORE attacking than KK.

At times Dalglish played Shearer, Ferdinand and Tino Asprilla, all in the same team.

Indeed the final day of the season was a sight to behold, goals from Shearer, Asprilla, Ferdinand (2) and Robbie Elliott, saw Newcastle hammer Forest 5-0.

With results elsewhere going NUFC’s way, Newcastle became the first English club to qualify for the Champions League without winning the league. As a nice bonus. at the end of that Forest game, we discovered that both Sunderland and Middlesbrough had been relegated.

Everything looked positive at that point but we still hadn’t discovered what would happen once Kenny Dalglish started buying and selling players….

This is where it all fell apart, these are the significant sales whilst Kenny Dalglish was manager:

£2.5m Lee Clark

£3.5m Robbie Elliott

£2m David Ginola

£6m Les Ferdinand

£0.5m Peter Beardsley

£6m Tino Asprilla

£1.5m John Beresford

£0.5m Darren Peacock

£0 Shaka Hislop

£0 Pavel Srnicek

£2.5m Paul Kitson

£2.5m Jon Dahl Tomasson

What we were looking at was pretty much the dismantling of Kevin Keegan’s team.

Changes were needed, especially with some of them not getting any younger, but with transfers going out, it all then depends on who comes in…

If age was a concern with some of the players then let go, it made no sense then when Kenny Dalglish recruited the ageing Barnes, Rush and Pearce on free transfers.

There were a lot of poor signings in his 19 months in charge, not always expensive but often looking pointless:

Des Hamilton £2m, Alessandro Pistone £4.5m, (his son!) Paul Dalglish £0, Andreas Andersson £3m, Stephen Glass £1m, George Geordiadis £0.5m, Lionel Perez £0, Stephane Guivarc’h £3.5m, Carl Serrant £0.5m, Laurent Charvet £1m.

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He also found a few who didn’t cost much but who proved good servants to the club such as Temuri Ketsbaia £0, Andy Griffin £1.5m, and Nicos Dabizas £2m.

As for good signings:

Shay Given £2m, Jon Dahl Tomasson (after NUFC), Gary Speed £5.5m, Dietmar Hamann £4.5m, and Nobby Solano £2.5m.

We will never know if Kenny Dalglish was forced to sell Les Ferdinand but it was a disastrous decision.

Disastrous because he was a class player and a brilliant partner for Alan Shearer, the duo scoring 49 goals between them for Newcastle in 1996/97. That disaster became an even more horrendous one when Alan Shearer then picked up a serious injury pre-season.

However, overall you have to say that Kenny Dalglish proved to be a massive setback for Newcastle United both with his signings and on the pitch, both with style of play and results.

From finishing second twice in a row, Dalglish’s first full season saw Newcastle drop to 13th place.

After scoring 73 goals in the 1996/97 PL season, Newcastle scored only 35 in 97/98 and the top scorer got seven (Barnes and Shearer).

Of course none of us will ever forget that 3-2 win over Barcelona but we could also question whether we could have had a much better go at the Champions League if Newcastle had kept Les Ferdinand and recruited better than old timers Rush and Barnes.

We also fluked an FA Cup final appearance in his only full season, after beating Everton in the third round, Newcastle only faced one other Premier League team (Barnsley who would be relegated in 19th place came to St James Park in the sixth round) until Arsenal in the final.

Sir Kenny Dalglish deserves his knighthood, both for his playing and managerial career (apart from Newcastle…), but especially for the very special way he dealt with the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy.

So arise Sir Kenny but we’d all love to know why it went so very wrong at St James Park?
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