LONDON (AP) — Kenny Dalglish’s second stint as Liverpool manager ended Wednesday when he was fired following the club’s disappointing eighth-place finish in the Premier League.
Dalglish lasted less than 500 days in charge, as the club owners decided to terminate his contract despite having ended the team’s six-year trophy drought with the League Cup triumph in February.
“Results in the Premier League have been disappointing and we believe to build on the progress that has already been made, we need to make a change,” Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said.
That decision was taken after Dalglish flew to Boston this week for an end-of-season review with the Boston Red Sox ownership group, which also owns Liverpool. After the 2011 baseball season, the Red Sox replaced managers with Bobby Valentine succeeding Terry Francona.
A League Cup triumph in February secured Liverpool’s return to European play through the Europa League. Dalglish also took the team to the FA Cup final, but he fell short of the owner’s target of finishing in the top four in the league as Liverpool went 14-14-10 and wound up 17 points behind fourth-place Tottenham. The Reds finished behind crosstown rival Everton for the first time since 2005 and only the second time since 1987.
“Whilst I am obviously disappointed to be leaving the football club, I can say that the matter has been handled by the owners and all concerned in an honorable, respectful and dignified way and reflects on the quality of the people involved,” Dalglish said. “I said when first approached about coming back as manager that I would always be of help if I can at any time and that offer remains the same,” he added.
Dalglish first left Liverpool in 1991 due to stress less than a year after the delivering the team’s 18th — and most recent — top flight title triumph in 1990.
He was brought to Anfield after a 20-year absence to replace Roy Hodgson in January 2011 with the club in danger of being relegated from the top flight after being bought by the Fenway Sports Group.
After lifting Liverpool from its perilous position to fifth place, Dalglish was given a three-year contract at the end of the season.
“Kenny came into the club as manager at our request at a time when Liverpool Football Club really needed him,” Werner said. “He didn’t ask to be manager; he was asked to assume the role. He did so because he knew the club needed him. He did more than anyone else to stabilize Liverpool over the past year-and-a-half and to get us once again looking forward. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.”
Owner John Henry also paid tribute to Dalglish.
“Kenny will always be more than a championship winning manager, more than a championship winning star player,” Henry said. “He is in many ways the heart and soul of the club. He personifies everything that is good about Liverpool Football Club. He has always put the Club and its supporters first. Kenny will always be a part of the family at Anfield. “Our job now is to identify and recruit the right person to take this club forward and build on the strong foundations put in place during the last 18 months.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.