20 Years Ago KENNY Dalglish dropped a king-sized bombshell by retiring as manager of Liverpool.

The legendary King of the Kop confessed that the pressure of keeping the Reds at the pinnacle of European football had prompted his decision that sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world.

It even impacted on Bolton Wanderers where Dalglish’s former Anfield team-mate, Phil Neal, was managing a side that was pushing for promotion back to the Second Division.

Neal was immediately installed as one of the front-runners for the Liverpool job but, after seeing Wanderers set a club record 21 league games without defeat with a 1-0 win at Reading, he played down speculation that he was a strong candidate.

“I’m privileged to have had my name put on the board,” he said after bookies quoted him as fourth favourite behind Liverpool “insiders” Ronnie Moran, Alan Hansen and Phil Thompson.

“I’m just trying to make Bolton Wanderers a better team. And until someone tells me different, that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Five years into the Burnden Park job, Neal was riding the crest of a winning wave. Next to bottom of the table when they lost at home to Stoke in early October, Wanderers went second top behind leaders Southend thanks to an inspirational performance by skipper Phil Brown and a 30-yard screamer of a shot from his fellow full-back Barry Cowdrill.

Meanwhile, over at Anfield, Dalglish poured his heart out as he explained his decision to walk out on his beloved Reds.

“The biggest problem was the pressure I was putting myself under in my desire to be successful,” he said.

“I felt it would be wrong to mislead everybody into thinking everything was fine with myself. There is no animosity between me and the club. This is something I felt was right.

“It is just really the result of 20 years’ active involvement in football that Kenny Dalglish the person has pushed himself to the limit. This is the first time I have made a decision more in favour of Kenny Dalglish than Liverpool Football Club. I felt I had gone far enough.”

The champagne was flowing freely as Ron Atkinson celebrated Manchester United booking their place in the Rumbelows League Cup final against his former club Sheffield Wednesday.

Teenage sensation Lee Sharpe scored the goal as United beat Leeds 1-0 at Elland Road to complete a 3-1 aggregate semi-final win.

30 Years Ago NEIL Whatmore and John Thomas got the goals as Stan Anderson’s Bolton Wanderers beat fellow Second Division strugglers Oldham Athletic 2-0 at Burnden Park to ease their relegation fears.

Wanderers could even afford the luxury of Alan Gowling’s last-minute penalty miss as they banked two precious survival points.

The win came at a price, with Gowling and defenders David Burke and Gerry McElhinney picking up injuries.

Nevertheless, the result brought sighs of relief all round at Burnden where the game, which was snowed off the previous Sunday, attracted a crowd of just 9,641, costing the club an estimated £15,000 in gate receipts.

It was cash the hard-up Wanderers could ill-afford to lose, especially at a time when they were doing their best to offload players.

Record signing Len Cantello – available at a cut price £50,000, less than three years after arriving in a £300,000 deal – Paul Jones, Peter Nicholson, and Dennis Peacock were on the transfer list.

And Bolton officials were continuing to press the Football League to force Wolves to pay them compensation over the botched attempt to sign Peter Reid.

Wanderers claimed they lost Reid’s services for 11 games at the start of the season and spent £180,000 on Dusan Nikolic from Red Star Belgrade as a direct replacement because Wolves had apparently agreed terms with the player before pulling out of the deal because they couldn’t afford the fee.

Another player Anderson was looking to jettison was Roy Heaney – the tough tackling defender, who was in the unique situation of being wanted by both a football club and a rugby league club.

Halifax Town, managed by former Wanderers assistant manager George Mulhall, were interested in taking the 20-year-old to The Shay, while Heaney was seriously considering an offer to switch to the 13-a-side code with Wigan.

England’s cricket tour of the West Indies was in the balance after Guyana objected to replacement fast bowler Robin Jackman because of his South African connections.

45 Years Ago ARSENAL sold England centre-forward Joe Baker to First Division rivals Nottingham Forest, prompting more speculation over the future of Wanderers’ favourite Wyn Davies.

Bolton manager Bill Ridding revealed that his home phone was so busy with calls from press men that he felt his only course of action was to go out for the day.

Yet he insisted – and not for the first time in the Davies transfer saga – that the reporters were on a wild goose chase.

“We know nothing about it,” Ridding said, just days after denying for the umpteenth time that the Wales international was heading for Manchester City.

On the field, Wanderers claimed the local bragging rights when second-half goals from Francis Lee and Freddie Hill, earned them a 2-1 victory over Bury in front of a crowd of just 12,287.

Bury, who were coming under increasing pressure to sell their teenage starlet Colin bell, had hoped to sign Sunderland striker John O’Hare in time to play in the derby, but the 19-year-old Scot called the deal off because he could not agree personal terms.

David Herd scored a hat-trick as Manchester United beat Burnley 4-2 at Old Trafford.

Farnworth lad Alan Ball made it abundantly clear to his Blackpool bosses that they could not satisfy his ambitions when he turned down their contract offer of £100 a week.

Ball said: “Blackpool have made me a great offer but it is not the money that bothers me. I don’t want to stay here, no matter what they offer.

“I want to get into a winning team to be a better player.”