When Liverpool overcame Manchester United at Saturday lunchtime, completing a week in which they knocked both of the top two placed teams out of the domestic cups in a week, it highlighted the momentum cup competitions can bring. Just a week earlier Liverpool were abject against Bolton, which led their manager Kenny Dalglish to be unusually critical of his players in his post-match interviews.
On most occasions interviewing Dalglish seems to be a task that is on the same list as getting blood out of a stone and asking Jose Mourinho to accept defeat with grace. But Dalglish has not always been unfriendly with the media; in his heyday as a player he made several appearances on Question of Sport, when the requisite for being a football guest was to have an international cap rather than having once appeared on a panel show, as well as making a cameo appearance as himself in the Channel 4 Drama, Scully.
That was in 1984, when footballers seemed to be more accessible, and Tottenham Hotspur players routinely appeared on Crackerjack (Crackerjack) and Saturday morning TV. In those days, rather than Soccer AM and cooking shows, Saturday morning TV was a straight choice between Tiswas and Noel’s Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. The former had custard pies, cages, costumes and Sally James, while the latter was a softer magazine show, presented by an even then smug Radio 1 DJ, with items from John Craven, and Mike Reid (the one who thought Cliff Richard was a great musician, rather than the blue comic circa ‘Run-around’ in his pre Frank Butcher days).
Swap Shop’s way of interacting with its viewers was to allow them exchange goods. Were it still around, further to Daniel Taylor’s revelation on Saturday night, we can imagine a pained conversation starting like this:
Edmonds: Hello Line 7. What’s your name?
Edmonds: Whereabouts are you calling from Kenny?
Edmonds: And what interests you today Kenny?
Caller: What interests me is what is what is good for this football club.
Edmonds: Okay Kenny. Have you got something to offer?
Edmonds: What is it Kenny?
Caller: A Striker.
Edmonds: A ‘Striker’?
Edmonds: Do you mean the comic strip ‘Striker’ or the chocolate bar ‘Striker’?
Edmonds: Well what is it? Is it an inanimate object?
Caller: I am not answering that. Our fans deserve to be treated with respect.
Edmonds: Well does this ‘Striker’ work okay Kenny?
Caller: It works hard everyday in Training.
Edmonds: Can you describe what it looks like Kenny?
Caller: It wears the red shirt.
Edmonds: Is it an important item to you?
Caller: Nothing is more important that this football club.
Edmonds: Is there something you want in exchange for it Kenny?
Caller: We like to do our business behind closed doors. Have you ever played football?
Edmonds: No Kenny, but clearly you initiated this conversation when you, or the club you are referring to, made the call. What would you like in exchange?
Caller: The sky blue item Number 32.
Edmonds: Well Kenny, that is a proven and valuable item that has been available for some months…
Since his return to management Dalglish has chosen to brickbat most interviews, while often reciting a mantra that sounds like a scared politician repeating a soundbite to questions where their answer is not relevant. But when he has chosen to say something slightly off-message, such as after Bolton, and again on Saturday with regards to Andy Carroll, his words have been very deliberate.
The criticism of his players after Bolton was clearly an effort to convince them they could play better ahead of their two big cup-ties at Anfield, when surely the fear must have been, that they couldn’t. And in his post-match interview after the cup-tie on Saturday, Dalglish suggested it had taken time for Andy Carroll to settle as Newcastle played a different style of football, which was different to the previous response on whether Carroll had settled – which was it was the media who were talking about a non-existent issues.
Carroll was playing well when Liverpool signed him, leading a line well on his own, bringing other players into the game and scoring goals both in the air and powerfully with his left foot. But in getting the maximum out of Chelsea for Fernando Torres they were forced to pay considerably over the market value for a player it has appeared the Manager is less than sure about, and is now ready to offload.
That last day of business in last January’s transfer window, with Chelsea paying a ridiculous price for Torres, a player who had already been off-form for over a year, and Liverpool also overpaying, maybe the lesson that means there are less panic buys this time rounds. Although it didn’t stop Liverpool paying over-the-odds for Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson in the summer, so it’s no guarantee.
The Substantive Football Columnist Mel Gomes’ new e-book ‘Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley’ is now available to buy for a Kindle from Amazon for £4.27 inc VAT, and for a number of other formats including as a PDF, an online download and for Apple, Palm and Sony hand-held devices from Smashwords. With recollections of matches including Clasicos, Milan Derbies and Diego Maradona’s one appearance at White Hart Lane, it covers a journey over land and sea in the 2010-11 Champions League. New, independent writing on popular culture, it is being backed by The Substantive.