Fact is, we have had many good performances this year only to let ourselves down with poor finishing, not getting enough players in the box, hitting the post or the bar or suffering as another keeper plays a blinder. We are in a false position, if we were to score just a few more goals and finish off teams, next season will be very different. If we win our first few home games, perhaps putting one of the smaller teams to the sword, then teams will no longer come to Anfield thinking they can nick something and get a big scalp, raising their game in a way they don't at Old Trafford or the Etihad where teams know they are beaten before they get onto the pitch. Confidence will surge back through the team - we've never had a problem beating the big teams as we managed to beat everyone above us this year, apart from Spurs (poor performance and two reds away, but a great performance at home, battered them but didn't score when they were still looking at going for the title). We need to bring in a few players - principally a third striker, a winger, cover for Lucas - but I can't see a single reason why we can not get into the top four with Kenny next year.
This is the argument. This is where I think the debate should be - you have faith Dalglish has the right stuff to get us where we're aiming for. Yes, we're in a pretty horrible league position - we're there because of a matter of inches that has repeated itself throughout the season. It's totally fair enough to suggest that we can progress enough over the summer for many of those inches to turn into goals. Do that and for sure we can get into the top 4.
It is easy to say 8th is not good enough, sack the manager, but you have to have a plan in place for his replacement. I doubt there are many managers of the calibre we need willing to take on the Liverpool project. In a few years, I'd be more than happy to see someone like Guardiola, Löw or maybe Rijkaard taking the reigns from Kenny. But who are the potential replacements now?
This, to me, is a very poor argument. This isn't 2 years ago, we don't have Purslow in charge, we haven't artificially limited our candidates to a media-approved shortlist of one-deluded owl and his media approved transfer strategy. There are compelling candidates available right now who are out of a job, and there are no doubt many more who could be tempted out of their job. We aren't in crisis - Liverpool football club with the promise of reasonable backing from clued up directors is a hell of a job (and they are clued up. They may not be football experts but they ARE sports experts. Most clubs are run by clueless businessmen - ours know sport, know how to succeed in it. It's only a matter of time before they learn football as well as they need to - assuming that they are as committed as they seem). Dalglish deserves or does not deserve the job on HIS merits, not least because if he isn't kept there on HIS merits then he isn't going to be fully backed and that isn't any kind of solution anyway.
Personally, I'm quite brutal on this, and I don't know how many are. I don't think I do have a huge amount of faith in the football we've played under Dalglish, and I have no faith whatsoever that the football we've seen so far will ever challenge for the really top trophies. I do think it can get us back into the top 4, but I don't see the link to the rest of the club, and I don't see solid foundations being laid in place for successive managers to tweak and build upon - which surely is the whole point of going with a DoF model. To have a defined system which others can work with and tweak, not a system that is, in my opinion, taking us further away from the cutting edge, further away from the kind of football that can be not just successful but consitently successful against better funded opposition. I don't have much faith that we are doing everything in our power to exploit and explore every potential avenue that might squeak an extra few % from our squad.
What I think is that we've got an incredibly charismatic and hugely talented man in charge who has a slightly old-school football vision and who leaves a lot of decision-making up to the players themselves. We've got, in short, a manager who I think is quite a lot like Ferguson in charge, who lacks Ferguson's foundations, his money, his absolute control over the squad, his control over the media, his aura and, I suspect, the quality of support staff that Ferguson surrounds himself with. I think we have a manger who could and did galvanise a decent set of players, but one who doesn't have a detailed plan in place for progression, one that takes into account the fiendish lengths every other club now also goes to in order to eke out a bit of extra performance from their players.
I think if we start next season strongly, get luck with injuries and make a few good signings this summer then we can certainly get back into the top 4. I don't think we will get higher than that though, because we're trying to beat better squads with more money without superior tactics. I don't see how that bridge can be gapped, and I haven't seen any evidence that we do have the kind of tactical coherence required - a squad in which Suarez presses while 9 others are behind the half-way line is not a well-drilled side working to a clear plan, and is not going to consistently beat such sides, certainly not if they have better players.
Where we can improve enough is in becoming a flat-track bully and destroying the lesser teams consistently. That certainly is possible. That's where the inches and posts and penalties of this season look very tantalisingly like a gap to top 4 that really can be bridged.
So, there we go. That's my cards on the table but it's a horribly tough question, and one where FSG have arguably cut off their choices unnecessarily by sacking Comolli without having a replacement already in place and ready to go. If we are going to commit to a DoF model I don't think it's acceptable to leave ourselves in this kind of situation - it defeats the whole point of that structure, that ideal of long-term planning and foundation laying, to go into the fucking summer transfer window with a question mark hanging over the manager and no DoF in place at all. In that respect, FSG have dropped a massive, massive ball and I really hope something like this doesn't happen again.
But this could cause us a major problem. IF FSG really don't think Kenny is the man, don't fully trust his judgment on players and would really like a change but Kenny won't step down(or move up) because Kenny is 100% sure he is the right man to manage the club then we're screwed. We need owners & management to be united and need to make a statement to such. Kenny can't take us back to the top on his own. Maybe they are united. Maybe at their meeting Kenny convinced them. Maybe they were already convinced and all this media stuff over the last 48 hours is just typical silly season nonsense and Kenny and Steve Clarke have gone off on holiday happy as Larry.
This is absolutely crucial as well, and needs to be borne in mind. If, for example, Dalglish is kept in place because FSG fear a fan backlash then he's a dead man walking anyway. The only way any manager can work is if he goes into a season fully backed, not least because a lot of his authority over the players rests on that backing too. We don't owe Kenny Dalglish the manager's job. We do owe him the ability to do that job properly to the best of his ability.