Just over twelve months ago Kenny Dalglish came back as manager of Liverpool regarded as the Saviour after the disastrous reign of Roy Hodgson. Have things really improved though?
Hodgson was sacked for winning just seven out of his twenty Premier League games in charge. When Dalglish first took over the signs were encouraging as Liverpool won ten of their last eighteen games and the signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll seemed to suggest an exciting new front pairing to replace Fernando Torres.
However this season things have gone backwards. Liverpool have won just nine out of twenty-two league games, dropped points against the likes of Swansea, Norwich and Stoke at home as well as Bolton and Wigan away. Their goalscoring record is also cause for concern with just 25 goals in 22 games which is less than the likes of Blackburn and Bolton.
This is where Dalglish’s dealings in the transfer market must come under close scrutiny. No-one can deny the fantastic talent of Luis Suarez but it is clear that he is not a natural finisher like Owen, Fowler or Torres that have come before him. The same must be said of Andy Carroll who it seems is simply at the wrong club at the wrong time. Liverpool have no idea how to play to his strengths unlike Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan at Newcastle. Dalglish seems to want to build a team that is capable of quick and incisive movements with players like Suarez, Bellamy and Maxi but Carroll’s style of play and lack of movement does not fit into this idea at all.
Arguably Dalglish’s best transfer dealings have been the cheapest with Craig Bellamy and Jose Enrique being two of Liverpool’s stand out performers this season. The Jury is still out on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson but both have been treated slightly unfairly by continually being played out of position on the right side of midfield when neither are comfortable there.
There is obviously some potential in this Liverpool team though as two victories at Stamford Bridge, a win at the Emirates and the cup victories this week over the two Manchester clubs shows. Does this highlight Dalglish’s lack of motivational powers though? It is easy for the players to motivate themselves for these massive games but the results against the lesser teams maybe call into question Dalglish’s qualities in this area.
At the start of the season John W Henry sent out the clear message that Champions League qualification was the requirement for this year but with Liverpool currently six points behind Chelsea and showing no sign of finding the consistency to overhaul Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle does Henry have the nerve to do what would be the unthinkable to many fans on Merseyside and remove King Kenny’s crown?
A League cup final victory over Cardiff next month may go someway to showing progress as it would mean definite European qualification and also their first trophy since 2006. This could well be just papering over the cracks though.
The next few months until the end of the season are vital not just for Liverpool’s progress but maybe also for Dalglish’s own future as well. Only time will tell if King Kenny is indeed untouchable.
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