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Liverpool: Dalglish loses grip on his Anfield crown

On Saturday afternoon Kenny Dalglish stood, head in hands, frustrated at his teams failure to turn possession and chances into goals. It was like Deja Vu all over again. Liverpool having all of the ball, all of the chances, let still losing to smaller teams at Anfield. To compound matters, he is not longer fighting for forth place. He is fighting to keep grip on his crown.

Two years ago it would have been mad to question King Kenny, a legend at Anfield, a man associated with the glory days of the past, with the league titles and the champions league victories of the ’80s. A year on it would have been even madder. He was not just a man who represented Liverpool’s past, but its future. Early signs were encouraging to say the least, with his team shooting up the league despite the absence of a certain Fernando Torres. The Kop became even more excited and enthralled by Dalglish’s reign when they announced the signings of Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson in the summer months. He had bought short term success in the 2010/2011 season, and looked as though he would bring long term success, through the use of young British players.

However, it has been these players, initially the symbols of Liverpool’s future back in the top four of English, and perhaps European football, that have become symbolic of Dalglish’s failings. One of the main criticisms of Rafael Benitez was his transfer policy, his spending put the club in a great deal of debt and created the (mild) threat of administration in September 2011. Nonetheless, the likes of Fernando Torres, Martin Skrtel and Pepe Riena were all signed by him. Also, one has to bare in mind the money he brought in; Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso combined equate to £75 Million transfer income. Although the Spaniard spent a great deal, he bought in record transfer fees, whilst also keeping Liverpool in Europe’s elite competition.

Dalglish’s signings, conversly, have very little potentially sell-on value. Jordan Henderson seems extremely overprices, baring in mind that much of his season has been spent anonymously standing in and around the center circle. Meanwhile Charlie Adam has been mixed, whilst there have been great passes he has not controlled the tempo of games in the same way that he did at Blackpool. He no longer takes games by the scruff of the neck and says; “right that’s it, I’m winning this thing”. Andy Carroll have proven a disaster, costing £7 million per goal. Meanwhile Luis Suarez could be characterized as a good signing, he has contributed very well going forward and, when he has played, has been one of the best players in the league. But perhaps the most important aspect of that sentence is “when he has played”. Suarez has missed so much of this season due to injury and suspension, and his club can ill-afford to lose him in big games. He is a brilliant player, but one that causes controversy. One could call him a poor man’s Mario Ballotelli. He doesn’t have the Italian’s skill, and is hated because of the controversy he creates whereas Super Mario is generally adored for such controversy.

One saving grace for Dalglish is the signing of Jose Enrique, who has proven to be a superb addition to the squad and has been possibly the left back of the season. Those defending Dalglish might also point to Liverpool’s cup runs, compromising a Carling Cup when that ended the long trophy wait, and a potential FA Cup final, should they overcome Everton in the Wembley derby. Whilst these are achievements, nowadays in football league positions are more valuable then cups, without doubt. This is perfectly shown by comparing Liverpool and Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s side are sitting 3rd in the league, but will (barring a run of unbelievably poor form for both the Manchester clubs) face yet another trophyless season. However, there fans are without doubt happier than followers of Liverpool, and have considerably more confidence in their manager.

Should Dalglish, therefore, be sacked? Looking at Liverpool’s season, one would have to say that it represents some concrete success, there is undoubtedly hope for the future, if he can make the right signings. But that appears to be a  very big “If”. One must also analyse the quote “there is undoubtedly hope for the future”. Could it not, equally, be said that Andre Villas Boas’ side had “hope for the future”? He had bought in young, exciting prospects and was taking Chelsea through an exciting transition. In football nowadays every manager may want and need time. But fans, and chairmen alike, are growing impatient. Whether fair or unfair, regardless of his legendary status, Liverpool’s new owners would have to remove Dalgilish from his role of manager if potential success does not turn into concrete success soon.

 

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