American revolution dethrones King Kenny
Liverpool owner John W Henry's parting words to the manager he sacked could have been plucked straight from the mouths of the supporters who still refer to Kenny Dalglish as "The King".
The American, who completed the formalities of Dalglish's removal after the Scot returned from a meeting in Boston with an ominous lack of assurances about his future, said in his farewell message: "He is, in many ways, the heart and soul of the club. He personifies everything good about Liverpool Football Club."
It was a statement that reflects the reverence in which Dalglish is, and should be, held when Liverpool's history is examined. His place in it is secure, but his dismissal brings a brutal conclusion to an association with Anfield stretching back to his arrival from Celtic in 1977.
If Henry and his Fenway Sports Group truly regarded the 61-year-old icon as Liverpool's heart and soul, then it has been ruthlessly removed after one full season in permanent charge after his return to replace sacked Roy Hodgson in January 2011.
Kenny Dalglish was sacked as Liverpool manager after a meeting with their American owners. Photo: Getty
With the strange symmetry football occasionally throws up, Hodgson - sacked by Henry and spectacularly unloved by Liverpool's fans as they constantly demanded Dalglish's return during his 191-day reign - was basking in the limelight as England manager, selecting his Euro 2012 squad at Wembley at the very moment his successor was being dismissed.
Dalglish returned to a job he had craved since leaving Anfield in 1991, broken by the pressures of life at football's top level and the stresses of leading the club through the trauma of Hillsborough, with what he regarded as unfinished business.
It will be a source of constant regret to Dalglish that he leaves as manager for a second time with that work still incomplete.
Such was his early success in reuniting a club fractured in spirit after Hodgson's departure that he drew FSG away from their own instincts about what they wanted from their manager.
Their template was for a young vibrant coach working alongside a director of football, Damien Comolli. But Dalglish's direct line to the psyche of Liverpool's support and a optimistic end to his temporary period in charge left them with no choice but to hand him a three-year deal.
Dalglish then started an expensive reshaping of Liverpool's squad. He spent lavishly on £20m Stewart Downing, £16m Jordan Henderson and £10m Charlie Adam - none of whom produced a return on the investment. Jose Enrique cost £6m and faded badly while £35m Andy Carroll only showed he was worth anything like that price in the closing weeks of the second Dalglish coming.
This lack of success disturbed the American owners, whose pre-season hope of a place in the top four and a return to the money-spinning Champions League was soon exposed as little more than fantasy.
Dalglish moved Liverpool back towards the old "pass and move" tradition and the air around the club cleared after the inertia of the Hodgson era but home results were wretched, with only six wins this season. It was a record that constant complaints about a lack of good fortune and a regular association with the woodwork throughout the season could not disguise.
Then came the Luis Suarez affair. It scarred the image of Dalglish and the club, was spectacularly mishandled and ended as the sort of public relations wreck that will have appalled Henry and his image-conscious cohorts in Boston.
Dalglish reacted with his default response of defending his player. The club stridently supported Suarez when he was handed an eight-game suspension and fined £40,000 by the Football Association for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra in a Premier League game at Anfield in October.
The manager was heavily criticised for joining the team in wearing t-shirts publicly supporting Suarez before a game at Wigan - but the real meltdown came in the return at Manchester United in February when the Uruguayan refused to shake Evra's hand.Dalglish's loyalty to Suarez was thrown back in his face by this gesture after he assured his manager he would shake hands with Evra, and the Scot's own combative response in a post-match interview led to an unprecedented series of apologies from both player and manager the following day.
In his statement Dalglish said: "I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I'd like to apologise for that." The damage to Liverpool's image, guarded so preciously by the hierarchy, was already done. The "brand" took a heavy hit.
This was a dark day for Dalglish and Liverpool but FSG must not escape blame either. Dalglish's handling of the situation drew criticism, much of it justified, but he appeared to receive no guidance or leadership from Liverpool's owners until it was all too late. In the meantime Suarez gave his manager a dreadful return on the trust he had shown him.
Even this situation that might have been salvaged had the FA Cup been added to the Carling Cup, won on penalties against Cardiff City.
Liverpool beat Manchester United and neighbours Everton in reaching the final, but an abject first hour at Wembley led to a 2-1 defeat and owner Henry's stony face as Dalglish passed him as he went up the Wembley steps sketched a grim outline for his future.
They had finished 37 points behind champions Manchester City, 17 points away from the Champions League places and four points behind neighbours Everton, whose transfer budget would barely register in Liverpool's small change.
There used to be an old saying that Liverpool existed purely to win trophies but on this occasion one was not enough. If Liverpool had won the FA Cup FSG would have had a tough job justifying his sacking. The loss opened the door to a decision that will upset Liverpool's support, whether they approved of Dalglish's management or not.
The club does indeed exist to win trophies but these particular owners would clearly rather it was something more than the Carling Cup.
Now, with Dalglish gone, the focus will shift to Liverpool's American owners. They have made several big decisions recently as they have cut a swathe through various layers of Anfield management, sacking Dalglish, Comolli and popular long-serving director of communications Ian Cotton.
So now they must reveal a long-term vision they have kept well hidden up to now. They must find a manager, a director of football, a chief executive and also finally deliver some hint on how they intend to move forward on the thorny issue of whether to rebuild Anfield or move to a new stadium.
Many will see the dismissal of Dalglish after one full season, and one trophy, as harsh and he will be personally devastated to leave the club he loves.
Now the search begins for his successor, with Wigan's Roberto Martinez, former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas and even former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez touted.
FSG may have removed Liverpool's heart and soul in Dalglish - but questions still remain about whether they have the ability and vision to transplant a new one.