Part 16 - A Quarter of a Century of Liverpool FC in the Premier League Era, 1992-2017
The Return of the King
Following the sacking of manager Roy Hodgson, an all-time club legend is brought back as the unification candidate for a divided and troubled club. Welcome back King Kenny. Sir Kenny. Sir King Kenny.
Originally written by TTT Subscriber Anthony Stanley, this major series was first serialised on The Tomkins Times and then published by TTT as a book, called A BANQUET WITHOUT WINE - A Quarter-Century of Liverpool FC in the Premier League Era.
Covering the period from the onset of the Premier League in 1992 to Klopp’s arrival in 2017, the book is available from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Banquet-Without-Wine-Quarter-Century-Liverpool/dp/1521850674. It remains a definitive matter of record of Liverpool FC during the period in question.
Of course, nothing would be ever easy at Liverpool and, even if the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as interim manager had the vast majority of supporters in buoyant mood, the returning icon would have some severe issues to deal with.
Not least of these was a disgruntled Fernando Torres. Promises had been made to the Spanish striker and then broken – at least that was Torres’ interpretation. There were strong rumours that he had been asked to play through his own personal pain barrier on a number of occasions and he had been left severely disillusioned at the direction the club had been sailing in following the ill-fated appointment of Hodgson. He was, however, far from alone in that.
Torres had gone from one of the best strikers in world football in his first few years with the club to a poor imitation of the golden-haired Achilles that had terrorised the best defences in European football. Liverpool supporters asked was it symptomatic of the general despondency that had engulfed the club or was it a sign of something more fundamental? Had injuries taken their toll on the striker and could he ever recapture the lightning pace and awe-inspiring assertiveness that made him such a formidable forward? Answers were not immediately apparent but even as the club heaved itself from the mire of disaffection and borderline apathy, with Dalglish walking back into Anfield, it rapidly became clear that Torres had had enough. The Spaniard had fallen out of love with the club or – at the very least – had ceased to love to play in a red shirt. Kenny’s entreaties fell on apparent deaf ears; El Niño was determined to leave.
Nearly a year ago, Simon Hughes released his new book Ring of Fire, during which he interviewed Fernando Torres. This allowed the former striker to get some old grievances off his chest and to highlight his thinking in wanting to leave in early 2011; the truth is, it may have brought him desired trophies but he would never recapture the form that made him one of the best forwards in world football.
Newly appointed Director of Football, Damien Comolli, had originally envisioned the next arrival (during what suddenly became a frenetic January window) not as a replacement for the departing Spaniard but as one who would partner him in a saliva-inducing potential attack. Luis Suárez was signed from AFC Ajax; appearing to carry more baggage than an eighteenth century Saharan camel (and quite possibly the only reason Liverpool could get him for such a relatively modest fee), the Uruguayan may have possessed a questionable temperament but also doubtlessly possessed unique gifts. During a whirlwind three years at the club, all of these facets of this exceptional and inimitable footballer would be on stark display.
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