Kenny and Cruyff
“We’ve got great confidence in Kenny”
Oh dear, with those words “King Kenny” receives his first real warning from Tom Werner. In the same interview, the Liverpool chairman damns Dalglish with the faintest of praise, using words that should strike fear in the heart of the Liverpool manager – “We’ve told Kenny that he continues to enjoy our full support.”
As if to compound Dalglish’s misery, the Liverpool board, having ditched director of football Damien Comolli, are now making noises about hiring Dutch icon Johan Cruyff. Whether or not they eventually sign the maestro, it does make one visualise a boardroom pitching ever more desperate ideas into the air in the hope that one will land butter side up.
I would remind the Scouse supporters to be careful what they wish for. In Simon Kuper’s excellent book “The Football Men” (reviewed elsewhere on site), the fine line between Cruyff’s genius and madman persona is ably illustrated. In the 70s, Cruyff, together with Ajax coach Rinus Michels, invented Dutch football, a game of rapid one-touch passing with players endlessly swapping positions in search of space. Liverpool were probably the best English exponents of this style, the tight triangles of interplay ending with the ball at the foot of the striker – Dalglish in his pomp – in the opponents’ box.
All very new and all very exciting but that was then and the best Liverpool could expect from today’s Cruyff is a very able chief scout. What they may also get is his reputation of brooking no argument and an outsize personality. His reputation is of a man with opinions on everything, who never stops talking and is the master of paradox. Some Cruyff-isms include the following: “Chance is logical” and “Before I make a mistake, I don’t make that mistake”, along with “Italians can’t beat you, but you can lose to them” and “I haven’t lived 50 years but 100″.
Perhaps more dangerous than a reputation for never being wrong is his love of money, with the passion of a man who had grown up without it. And maybe even more telling is that Cruyff, who was on a supervisory board at the Amsterdam ArenA, stepped down from his role after a long-running feud with Ajax directors and fellow board members.
If it happens, he will certainly make an interesting contrast to the dour Dalglish and give the rest of the football world something to talk about other than Andy Carroll and Liverpool’s current underachievement.