It’s March 10th and Liverpool have lost again, three in a row now for the first time since 2003, this time to Sunderland, a team who a couple of years ago they would have brushed past with ease. So what is going so drastically wrong, why have Liverpool gone from title challengers to mid table mediocrity in such little time? The problem started a long time ago before Dalglish was even the manager, when world class players such as Alonso and Mascherano were allowed to leave. Rafa Benitez left after bringing trophies to Merseyside , but never quite managed that elusive league title, and was replaced with the lovable Roy Hodgeson, who has since proved his worth at West Brom. Hodgson was not given enough time at Liverpool, and after just 17 games was sacked. However Hodgson’s record in those 17 games was better than Dalglish’s in his first 17, RH gaining 22 points and KD 21. So now Liverpool fans are starting to ask, is it time to move on from Dalglish?
In January 2011 Hodgson was sacked, and all was lined up for the return of legend King Kenny. It was the appointment Liverpool fans had been crying out for, and a heroes return was set to be an exciting one as Liverpool took on Everton. That match ended in a draw however, but everyone believed things were looking up. In that January transfer window Dalglish looked at the squad, and I believe this is the root of where it all started to go wrong for him. Spending 35 million on the unproven Andy Carroll, who has a less than impressive goal return. For that amount of money he could, and should have bought a player like Cavani or Lavezzi. He also bought the talented, but controversial Luis Suarez , who has set the Premier
League on fire whilst ruffling a fair few feathers along the way. Liverpool rumbled through the rest of that season at a steady pace, finishing 7th, ready to build for the next season, maybe even challenge for the title? However, it’s now March 2012, and they sit 7th yet again, millions of pounds spent, yet no better off.
The key to where it all went wrong this season, in the short term, is the transfers and decisions that Dalglish has made. In the summer transfer window he spent vast amounts of money on Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing all of whom have been less than impressive, and have counterparts who are a lot more able than they are for the same price or less. Much like with the Andy Carroll situation, Dalglish has made the wrong buys for ridiculous amounts of money. For instance Liverpool fans, would you swap Henderson, Adam, Downing and Carroll for Cavani, Hazard, Goetze and Mata for instance. Dalglish probably could have signed any of these players with the right bargaining skills and simply should have. The other problem, is that Liverpool have one of the worlds best defensive midfielders in Lucas Leiva, injured, long term. He is a shining light, and has been sorely missed this season with a bench with not much depth to cover his absence, Dalglish’s refusal to sign cover for him has cost the club greatly.
How many times this season have Liverpool fans been frustrated by Dalglish’s late substitutions, like the home game against Arsenal? A fresh injection of pace at about 70 minutes probably could have won that game. The sad thing is, things like this happen quite regularly this season for Liverpool and games which appeared to be winnable have been drawn or lost, costing uncountable points. The other talking point that cannot be ignored is Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan is undeniably talented, but is a frustrating character. In the Evra saga he made his club, his manager and even Liverpool fans look like fools, and the 8 game ban did not help Liverpool’s challenge for a top four spot. The way in which Dalglish handled the situation was also awful and unprofessional, and smacked of desperation, and it all could so easily have been avoided. The fact that he had to publicly apologise for his stance spoke volumes.
Liverpool have won the Carling Cup this season and could quite possibly win the FA cup too, and ths is obviously a great thing, silverware was needed. However if fourth is not achieved,the season will be seen as a failure. As a club with such a rich European history, the fans deserve to be in the Champions League. At the conclusion of today, the fourth spot is looking like a distant dream for another year, and many fans are starting to call for Dalglish’s head. I say give him until summer, there would be no point in changing managers now at this late stage. Two trophies would be a great achievement, and maybe, just maybe fourth can be squeezed out with a maximum amount of effort and results in other games going Liverpool’s way. I think whatever happens Dalglish needs to step down in the summer. He is a legend at Liverpool FC, and another year where the club don’t get fourth and perform badly could further tarnish his reputation. With a managerial merry go round soon to occur in the summer, it would be great to get a fresh, experienced top manager in to make new signings, and completely refresh the squad. Keeping a few important core players and building around that is the key to reviving Liverpool.
Writing as a neutral, I’m looking from the outside in. I know some Liverpool fans will stick with Dalglish until the end, but maybe, it is time to move on , before the legend destroys his hero status completely.
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