Dalglish calls for derby calm
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish hopes his players will display the intelligence required to win tomorrow's 215th Merseyside derby after errors cost the side defeat in his first two matches in charge.
Dalglish will walk out of the Anfield tunnel as Reds manager for the first time in nearly 20 years and although the welcome he will receive will surpass anything afforded his predecessors, he will have wanted to arrive in better circumstances.
Daniel Agger's misjudged first-minute challenge on Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov and Steven Gerrard's lunge at Michael Carrick ensured the Scot's first game in charge ended with an FA Cup exit at Old Trafford last weekend. And more defensive slip-ups contributed to a 2-1 defeat at Blackpool in midweek.
Dalglish is desperately in need of a win but will send out his team - without the suspended Gerrard - at Anfield telling them to play the game and not the occasion. There have been 19 red cards in this fixture in the last 14 years and Dalglish is keen not to add to that tally.
"The players here know the importance of the derby and sometimes the local lads get carried away and are too motivated and get a bit heated," said Dalglish, who, with Jamie Carragher still sidelined with a shoulder injury, will have no Scousers in his team.
"Nowadays if you say 'Good morning' to someone you've got a chance of getting a red card. But you can't blame players for being passionate and committed - they've been highly criticised for not being passionate and committed. If there is a bit of understanding from the officials I'm sure it would ease things along a bit.
"You have to be intelligent - the fact it is a derby doesn't change the rules of the game, they are exactly the same. But you have to go and compete, just as you have in every other game. We want to see the players competing but within the rules of the game and if I have 11 players on the pitch we have a chance of winning."
After defeats in Dalglish's opening two matches, and the team on a run of four losses in five domestic league and cup matches which have dropped them closer to the relegation zone, the significance of this derby is being hyped up. But the manager played down those suggestions.
"We're going out to win game. Where it takes us at this moment in time isn't particularly relevant," he added. "It's where you are at the end of the season when you add up the points that's the most relevant thing. A positive result for us gives everyone a lift. We just need a bit of confidence. The best way to do it is to start winning matches. The sooner we do that, the quicker the confidence will come."