In this week's Talking Reds column, Simon Steers looks at Kenny Dalglish's recent return to the club to take up a position on the board.
When people think about Liverpool Football Club they think about the most successful English team of all time. They think about that famous Anfield atmosphere, the great nights, the five European Cups. They think about Bill Shankly, Joe Fagan, and Bob Paisley. They think about Istanbul and Rafa Benitez. They think about the club's great players; Hunt, Keegan, Souness, Barnes and Gerrard.
But if you had to find one man that encompassed what Liverpool Football Club means, you would look no further than Kenny Dalglish.
Kenny Dalglish means different things to different generations; his return for a second stint as manager was only a brief chapter in his illustrious history with the club.
For my generation, Kenny Dalglish will always be the greatest player, and one of the greatest managers the club has ever seen. He will always be my Liverpool hero.
Dalglish was signed by Bob Paisley in 1977 and over 13 seasons scored 169 goals in 501 appearances. As a player he won the league title six times and the European Cup three times. He won a total of 16 trophies with the club (excluding the Charity Shield).
As a manager Dalglish won three league titles in six seasons, coming agonisingly close to a fourth in the last minute against Arsenal in 1989. He also has two FA Cups to his name. One of those FA Cup triumphs was in 1989, in the immediate aftermath of Hillsborough.
For all of the success Liverpool have enjoyed over the years, the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough are an integral part of the club's identity.
At the time of the Hillsborough tragedy, where 96 innocent Liverpool fans tragically lost their lives, Kenny Dalglish was Liverpool manager. With the club on its knees; Dalglish was the man that stood up and took the strain of a mourning city on his shoulders. As he has done throughout his life, Dalglish was there for the club, the city and its people when they needed him the most.
It isn't just his contribution as a player and a manager that reveres Dalglish to the people of Liverpool; it is his contribution as a man. His compassion and dignity have always been characteristics that he has shared with the great Bill Shankly. And it was those characteristics that helped the club through the darkest moment in its history.
To this day, Dalglish has been a key influence on the campaign for justice, throwing his support behind the families and fight for the truth.
The culture of the city
Liverpool is a unique city with a rich heritage and culture. It has never been a conformist city; and one key characteristic has always been how people come together to protect their own in the face of adversity. The fight for justice is the single biggest example of that.
When Bill Shankly came to Liverpool he immediately 'got' the city of Liverpool and its people. He built the football club on a set of common principles that had unity and a collective spirit at its core. The club's strength has always been its unity; when Liverpool and its supporters come together as one, anything is possible.
Kenny Dalglish gets that, he gets what the city is about, and what makes its people tick. He gets what Liverpool supporters are about.
The past meeting the future
In the past the club has struggled to find the right balance in fusing its illustrious past with a future vision. It's a balance that has been difficult to find against the backdrop of an evolving game.
When the club appointed Brendan Rodgers as manager he made it clear that whilst he was leading a clear roadmap for the future, he was in awe of the club's past, and wanted to embrace it. To do that, he has made a great effort to understand what the club means, and to relate to supporters.
But to fully embrace our past whilst looking forward, we need people at the club that understand where the club has come from, and who understand where it wants to go.
The return of Kenny Dalglish
The appointment of Kenny Dalglish as a non-executive director at Liverpool is a brilliant move for the club. His experience and understanding of what makes supporters tick will be a huge asset to the owners in decision making. He will be able to offer a unique point of view; and will give supporters the confidence there is a voice at the highest level of the club that is speaking for them.
Having Kenny Dalglish on the board at Liverpool feels right. He isn't just a Liverpool legend, he is an icon. For many supporters, Dalglish is the greatest servant in the club's history, with Shankly and Paisley architects of the club's identity.
What better person to be offering insight and input into the direction the club takes in the future?
In his role as non-executive director, Kenny will be on hand to offer advice and support to Brendan Rodgers. But he won't be involved in the day-to-day football decisions; his new role is to provide a voice that is a conduit between past and future. It is also to be an extra voice around the club that supporters can trust.
One club, one voice
The return of Kenny Dalglish to the board is another move that will help the club to find that unity that was at the heart of the Shankly vision. Alongside the Supporters' Committee that feeds directly into the club, Dalglish will be able to advise the board on matters that directly impact the culture of the club, meaning that the club doesn't lose sight of its identity.
Identity is important for Liverpool as that is how generations of supporters relate to the club. The club might mean something different to different supporters; but sometimes to move forward you need to make sure you take everyone with you, and that means integrating your past, present and future into one voice.
With Kenny Dalglish now on the board at Liverpool the club somehow feels 'more' whole. Brendan Rodgers is doing a terrific job of trying to recreate a new Liverpool, and the future looks exciting, but with Dalglish back at the club, it means we will not lose sight of what makes the club so special to a large section of its supporters.