PEPE REINA hopes Kenny Dalglish will remain as Liverpool manager beyond the end of the season, and has likened his boss to Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola.
Dalglish’s emotional return to the Anfield hot seat in January has triggered an upsurge in the Reds’ form, with only Premier League leaders Manchester United collecting more points in the time since.
And Reina, an ever-present in the league this season, believes Dalglish, whose current deal at Anfield runs only until the season’s end, should be handed the reins on a permanent basis, and says the Scot can take the Reds back towards the top of the table, if given the chance.
“We all want him to stay,” the Spaniard said. “If he stays here on a long-term basis, I would be very happy. Like the rest of the lads.
“We have improved since Kenny became manager. We have beaten all of the big teams. But it is important as players to repeat that in every game. We need to be consistent; with the aggression and commitment, everything.
“We cannot just perform against the top sides because a season is 10 months long. If we get the balance right, we’ll be a lot, lot closer to where we want to be. We started this season, and the last one, not the best. Next time, we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Reina says he has been impressed by the manner in which Dalglish has transformed a squad that had appeared to have lost its way under previous manager Roy Hodgson, and has likened the 60-year-old’s impact to that made by Barca boss Guardiola upon his arrival at Camp Nou back in 2008.
“Guardiola is a bit younger than him of course,” he said,
“But they have very similar backgrounds – they are both icons as players and great managers as well.
“It is important that Kenny knows the club. He is a legend in Liverpool – and I mean a legend because sometimes that word is used too much for other people.
“Kenny knows exactly what people think, and what the supporters want to see.
“Because he was a great player himself, he understands the point of view of a player, and that means he knows how to set standards and what is acceptable to us. He makes everything much easier for us.”
Reina’s own future at Anfield has been shrouded in doubt throughout the past few months, with a host of top European clubs said to be vying to tempt the former Villarreal stopper away from Merseyside.
But the 28-year-old says he is focusing only on Liverpool, and on improving his own personal form.
“I know I could play a lot better,” said Reina. “Throughout the whole year my levels must improve.
“I am looking forward to the next one to prove myself again. I think as a squad we all feel the same. (I have to) Train hard, to listen to the coaches, managers, team-mates and to try to be as complete as possible. Nobody is the perfect player, you are always learning. I have played 450 games, which is a lot for someone of my age.
“I am happy, but I would like to play another 450 at the highest level.”
“It has been a really tough season for every team,” said Reina.
“Hopefully (Suarez and Carroll) are the beginning of some great buys by the owners,” added the Liverpool goalkeeper.