By Shrikant Shankar
While the football-mad city of Kolkata is getting ready for a date with Lionel Messi on September 2 in an international friendly between Argentina and Venezuela, a European legend quietly passed Delhi during the launch of the Steve McMahon Football Academy in India.
Welshman Ian Rush accompanied former England and Liverpool star, McMahon, who launched the official Liverpool FC Academy on Wednesday. Rush was excited about Liverpool's chances in the new Premier League season.
ESPNSTAR.com caught up with the former Liverpool striker and their third top goal-scorer in League football, with 229 goals, behind Roger Hunt (245 goals) and Gordon Hodgson (233).
Shrikant Shankar: Liverpool have bought many players in the summer transfer window, how do you see their chances in the 2011-12 BPL season?
Ian Rush: I expect us to be better this season. We finished sixth last year and I expect us to finish in the Champions League positions. The new players coming in are good and hopefully with some confidence, they will become a better team.
SS: There has been a revolution under manager Kenny Dalglish's second coming since he took over in January. Do you feel that the glory days can return to Anfield?
IR: Hopefully, and why not? We have the right manager, we have bought the right players and we have the right players coming through from the academy. It does not matter how old you are, if you are good enough then Kenny Dalglish will pick you. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be back to the glory days.
SS: Both Suarez and Carroll arrived after the sale of Fernando Torres. Do you think it’s the right decision?
IR: I think Liverpool got the best deal. We did not want Torres to go, but he wanted to go. The new owners have given Kenny the money to go and spend and he has spent it wisely and we have got two for one, so, I definitely think Liverpool got a better deal.
SS: You were part of the last Liverpool team to win the English top-division title and one of the most successful teams ever in Europe. Has it surprised you that they have gone without winning the coveted Premier League title for 21 seasons?
IR: Yes, very much surprised. I did not expect it at the time but then that can happen. We have to start all over again and we are doing it. It's a matter of pride for us, especially with Manchester United winning so many since titles then, and I think the rivalry between the two clubs makes it even bigger.
SS: You left Liverpool for Juventus in 1987. What prompted you to return after just one season in Italy?
IR: Kenny Dalglish was the reason. He wanted to sign me back. He convinced me to come back to Liverpool and I'm happy I did that. Juventus was the right club at the wrong time for me and they did not play the sought of football I was used to at Liverpool.
SS: What is your opinion on Kenny Dalglish, having played with him and also when he was a manager?
IR: He is a very honest man. He loves Liverpool Football Club, which is what he is like. He wants what is best for the club. His man-management skills are his strength.
SS: Having played under the great Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Roy Evans...who was the best manager you played under?
IR: For me it was Bob Paisley. He gave me the chance, he helped me when I was a young, shy teenager and he gave me the confidence to go and do well. Kenny Dalglish has learnt a lot from him, but for me, it was Bob Paisley.
SS: Are you interested in returning to full-time management anytime soon?
IR: No, I'm happy to work for Liverpool Football Club. There is a lot of travelling involved with it. I have been offered a few jobs but I enjoy the one (as Liverpool’s soccer school’s brand ambassador) I’m doing now.