Today, Kenny Dalglish was handed the Liverpool managerial role on a permanent basis as he signed a 3 year contract for guiding the 18-time English champions into a current position of 5th in the Premier League, following their 5-2 demolition of Fulham on Monday night. But has Kenny Dalglish been the key to Liverpool’s success?
Following Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Blackburn on May 5th, Roy Hodgson was soon after given his marching orders with the Reds lying 12th in the league. Benjani even scored a brace on that day and rival fans were joking about avoiding relegation being something for Liverpool supporters to worry about as they sat just 4 points above the relegation zone.
In comes Kenny Dalglish and the club lose 1-0 at Manchester United in the FA Cup. Things don’t appear to be changing when they lose 2-1 at Blackpool during the week and are then held at home, 2-2 by rivals Everton in the league. Liverpool see the month out with back-to-back wins, one which required help from a bizarre own goal by John Pantsil.
That started the ball rolling. As did the late January signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, and seeing Fernando Torres head off to Stamford Bridge.
One man who has remained anonymous at this stage is Steve Clarke. Dalglish brought him in as his right hand man when he came in. Having worked under Jose Mourinho and helping Gianfranco Zola to a top half finish with West Ham, the former Chelsea defender has shown a good knowledge of the game.
Already, Dalglish has a better team built around them than what Roy Hodgson was given, but the most important thing Hodgson didn’t have was the support of the players, and the fans. There was definitely a lift in player performances when Dalglish came in, and the fans were much happier too. But I still think they’re dreaming if they believe Dalglish is the right man to guide them to their first Premier League title.
Yes, Liverpool’s owners are expected to spend lots of money in the summer, having already spent £35,000,000 on Andy Carroll and £22,800,000 on Luis Suarez in January. There are some gaps to fill in this team, especially in defence.
The promise of money good well keep Jose Reina at the club past the summer; one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League season after season. Although ageing, and finishing the season injured, Steven Gerrard is one of the elite midfielders in the world. In my opinion, Luis Suarez is one of the top forwards in the world, and in his first full season in the Premier League, Andy Carroll has shown is capability as a goalscoring striker.
Maxi Rodriguez has incredibly scored hat tricks in two of his last three games, whilst Raul Meireles looks like a decent player in midfield. Dirk Kuyt is better suited as a forward, and both Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey have age on their side.
With Ryan Babel having been flogged to Hoffenheim in January, Dalglish may want to consider clearing out other players who aren’t going to help Liverpool compete for a top 4 finish, like David N’Gog, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole.
As well as Spearing, both Martin Kelly and John Flanagan have looked good in their initial few games as senior Liverpool players. There’s good potential for Liverpool from their youth system with lots more promise to come. Perhaps Dalglish may want to recreate Sir Alex Ferguson’s success with “kids” at Manchester United in the 90s? He already beat Ferguson with Dirk Kuyt’s Andy Cole-like performance at Anfield in March when all 3 of the Dutchman’s goals came inside the 6-yard box.
Whether it’s down to Kenny Dalglish, Luis Suarez, Steve Clarke and/or Andy Carroll, optimism is back with the Liverpool fans ahead of the 2011/12 Premier League season…