Kenny Dalglish has pledged that his commitment to "the Liverpool way" will not falter whatever setbacks the club encounters this season. Since his return to Anfield in January, the Scot has re-embraced all the values of his first spell on Merseyside – whether it is a reluctance to criticize squad members publicly, however shaky their hold on a first-team place, or a commitment to the pass-and-move football that made Liverpool the greatest force in the English game.
During Liverpool's first defeat of the season, at Stoke City last Saturday, there was no attempt to meet the home side's physical challenge, as Roy Hodgson's side had vainly tried to do last November.
"We will always try to entertain, we will always do our best," Dalglish said. "I can only follow the philosophy I was brought up with. I cannot be anybody else." He sidestepped the question of how that philosophy had changed after his resignation in 1991. It was not always evident under Graeme Souness, or in the more pragmatic methods employed by Gérard Houllier.
"I don't know if that philosophy has ever left Liverpool," he said. "I have never changed at all. I don't know how other people saw it after I left but for me the football club has always been the same, whether I was playing, managing or just watching. I have always had the same understanding of the football club. I cannot talk for anyone else but I cannot do other than how I was brought up – and if it's not going to be right, it's not going to be right."
Nevertheless, Dalglish's commitment to the past is not all embracing. White Hart Lane, where Liverpool play on Sunday, has been an unhappy venue for Jamie Carragher. He dislocated a shoulder at Tottenham last season and conceded an important own goal there in November 2008. There are some who believe that at 33 Carragher may have to adapt his game to continue as the linchpin of Liverpool's defence. "Nobody will get picked because of their history," Dalglish said. "The people who have been involved with the club a long time would not expect that. They would not want it. But Jamie Carragher will do fine for me just the way he is. I don't know what I can say about him because there is nothing about Jamie I would like to change."
The remark by one of his successors as Liverpool manager, Roy Evans, that a season without European football at Anfield is "like a banquet without wine" still carries resonance with Dalglish. Unlike the Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, Dalglish would have unequivocally welcomed the place in the Europa League that was denied him by Tottenham's 2-0 win at Anfield in May.
However, Dalglish remarked that Liverpool would gain no advantage playing a Spurs side who played in northern Greece on Thursday night, saying he expected to face only one member of Redknapp's team that forced a goalless draw against PAOK Salonika.
"Spurs are going to be right up there at the end of the season," Dalglish said. "I don't know who else will be, but Spurs will be there. They may have faced both Manchester clubs and lost but I don't think they were at full strength either time."