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Kenny Dalglish explains to Alan Shearer why he failed at Newcastle United

2 weeks ago
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Kenny Dalglish has been asked the big question by Alan Shearer.

After winning the league title as a manager with both Liverpool and Blackburn, why didn’t Kenny Dalglish succeed at Newcastle United?

Having won countless trophies as a player and manager, Dalglish became Newcastle United manager after Kevin Keegan left in January 1997.

Interviewed by Alan Shearer for The Athletic, Kenny Dalglish says that in his entire managerial career, ‘Newcastle was the most disappointing one for me.’

The former NUFC boss explaining:

“I was lucky to be brought up through Celtic and developed at Liverpool. Then I managed some iconic clubs. Newcastle was the most disappointing one for me, but it didn’t take away the enjoyment I got up there and I still have a soft spot for them. Blackburn was an absolute fairytale and Liverpool was just beyond any of my expectations and wildest dreams. So I’ve not done too badly.”

I remember at the time, when Kenny Dalglish replaced Kevin Keegan many Newcastle fans thought that it would be as simple as the new manager adding a little more defensive know-how to fine tune Keegan’s brilliant team and become Premier League winners, only for it to not quite work out like that…

The first four or five months went really well and Kenny Dalglish ended up second with Newcastle and qualifying for the Champions League. The next season (1997/98) Newcastle United finished 13th.

Explaining below why it didn’t work out at St James Park, maybe this is the killer line: ‘I loved working at Newcastle, loved working for the board. It was fantastic, but the money just wasn’t there. I’m not using that as an excuse, it’s just a fact.’

Part of an excellent interview in The Athletic:

Alan Shearer:

“I moved to Newcastle a year later and then you joined us. I couldn’t have been happier. Once Kevin Keegan had decided to leave, I was thinking, “This is going to be a huge success like Blackburn”, but it didn’t work out that way. What’s your take on why?”

Kenny Dalglish:

“There aren’t many occasions when you get a job and the team are sitting fourth in the Premier League. For me, it was a great opportunity. The boys loved Kevin, and rightly so. He’d been hugely successful, they’d enjoyed playing football for him and I came in and I was different. Kevin’s philosophy was about letting people play, but I wanted everybody to contribute.

“Sometimes some of the players were a wee bit difficult. It’s not the players’ fault, it’s my fault, but sometimes it was difficult for me to understand why a player couldn’t help their team-mate on the pitch. We finished second that season and then qualified for the Champions League proper after a play-off.

“I loved working at Newcastle, loved working for the board. It was fantastic, but the money just wasn’t there. I’m not using that as an excuse, it’s just a fact.

“At the same time, Kevin had abolished the reserve team, so there was no pathway for kids to get to the first team and I needed to get that up and running for the benefit of the club — Sir John Hall’s dream was to have a team of 11 Geordie players — as well as bring in first-team players.

“John Barnes came in on a free, Ian Rush, Stuart Pearce. That wasn’t Newcastle’s style. In the second year, we finished 13th, but we were in the Champions League and had that memorable night against Barcelona, when we won 3-2, and got to the FA Cup final, but you’d had that terrible ankle ligament injury in pre-season when Les Ferdinand was in the process of moving to Tottenham Hotspur. There was a lot of change.”

Alan Shearer:

“When I got injured, did you try to persuade Les to stay?”

Kenny Dalglish:

“After that game at Goodison Park, I was straight on the phone to Freddy Shepherd, the chairman, saying he had to call the deal off, but there were all sorts of threats about legal action. If we could have kept him, we would have.

“Les was brilliant. It would have been unfair not to allow him the opportunity to go back to London, but it came back to smack us in the face. We’d have been a better team if we’d kept him.”

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