Think you're doing a good job, Kenny You have spent 113.3m and you're 28 points behind United
23:37 GMT, 22 March 2012
Kenny Dalglish has accused his critics of lacking intelligence and not understanding what he is trying to achieve at Anfield, pointing to the success of the academy and Liverpool’s Carling Cup triumph, as well as the FA Cup semi-final to come.
But, after Wednesday’s implosion at Loftus Road, when they lost a Premier League game after leading 2-0 for the first time in 11-and-a-half years, and after buying nearly 115million worth of players in just over a year, the club sit seventh, a place above Swansea (who have spent around 10m in that time). So, we ask Sportsmail’s experts — has King Kenny delivered
Matt Lawton: Only a top-four finish will be good enough
After spending more than 100million on players, Kenny Dalglish must realise his Liverpool side have seriously under-performed this season. Six defeats in the last 10 Barclays Premier League games, nine in all, as well as eight draws at home, is simply not good enough.
The widely-held view that the Carling Cup would be enough to satisfy the club’s American owners this season is not shared by many inside Anfield. Not even a Carling Cup and FA Cup double will keep them completely happy when the main objective was to qualify for the Champions League.
Kop legend: But with Liverpool 12 points off the Champions League spot, Kenny Dalglish does not
seem to know how to turn around
the club's League fortunes
But that does not mean Dalglish will
be sacked, or indeed should be sacked, particularly when it has never
been more difficult to secure a place in the top four and particularly
when we are talking about Dalglish here. These Americans are not half as
daft as their predecessors.
The pressure, however, will be on next season, with so much more required from those marquee signings.
Andy Carroll has been a disaster so
far, while Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam just don’t look like
Liverpool players; nothing like as good as Xabi Alonso or Fernando
Torres, prior to the latter getting injured, anyway.
Stewart Downing has had his moments but needs to perform with more consistency, especially for 20million.
Dodgy deals: Liverpool spent 55million to secure the services of Andy Carroll (left) and Jordan Henderson
Luis Suarez is the one success story.
On the pitch he has been terrific. But he has also been the cause of a
situation that has inflicted so much damage on the club, with Dalglish’s
blinkered view of the same Patrice Evra race row damaging Liverpool’s
On and off the field, the Suarez
affair has taken its toll and that is probably another reason why
Dalglish deserves a second full season.
But he needs to deliver. The Europa
League might just about do for next season but a top-four finish has to
follow. Otherwise a decision will have to be made.
Star performer: Luis Suarez has shone on the pitch, but Dalglish's handling of the Evra affair left a lot to be desired
Michael Walker: Fans won’t like reduced status
Late on Match of the Day on Wednesday night, Alan Hansen jokily commented on Liverpool: ‘We are not a cup team.’
But there was feeling behind the words all the same because ‘cup team’ signifies reduced status.
This is the old-school Anfield view of things, and it would be staggering to discover that Kenny Dalglish did not share Hansen’s opinion.
Cup team Liverpool won their first silverware in six years with victory over Cardiff at Wembley
As things stand, however, the Carling
Cup success and an FA Cup semi-final place are offering Dalglish some
cup protection and for now he will take it — though that can change if
Liverpool lose their Wembley semi-final to Everton or Sunderland on
April 14. In the Barclays Premier League, the players brought to the
club at such expense have not done it.
Liverpool finished 22 points behind
Manchester United last season — the gap stands at 28 points after
Wednesday’s casual late collapse at Queens Park Rangers.
Dalglish will be biting his lip in
public but he will know this is uncomfortable. Despite all the affection
for him in the city, fans can also see what does and does not work.
Had Liverpool held on at Loftus Road
it would actually have been a third consecutive win, with Wigan to come
Appetite for destruction: Liverpool collapsed at Loftus Road, shipping three goals in 13 minutes against a QPR side who had not won since January
There would have been the beginnings of a sense of momentum. But critical analysis would merely have been deferred, not binned.
In purely football terms this season
has been indifferent. A season in which Arsenal and Chelsea, in
particular, have wobbled presented an opportunity to finish fourth.
Yet, Liverpool are 12 points off the riches of Champions League qualification.
A serious question for Anfield is: a
year from now, where will Liverpool be —not even in terms of the title,
but in terms of fourth place
That’s reduced status.
Fall from grace: Liverpool were booed off at Anfield after being outplayed by Swansea in November's 0-0 draw
Ian Ladyman: Liverpool's reputation is suffering on his watch
I was never sure Dalglish was the right man for the Liverpool job and said so in print before he was offered it.
his standing at the club and his success as manager first time round, I
was not convinced he would be able to handle the scrutiny that comes
with top Premier League jobs these days. I also thought Liverpool needed
a younger man who could build slowly and steadily for the long term.
doubt, Liverpool are in a better position now than they were under Roy
Hodgson. Dalglish has restored unity to the club and has reconnected the
team with their supporters. That is to his credit.
Nevertheless, I feel that my concerns of 14 months ago have proved valid.
Regardless of the value for money —
or otherwise — Dalglish has secured in the transfer market, Liverpool
have proved worryingly inconsistent in a modest Premier League.
While Chelsea and Arsenal have struggled, Dalglish’s Liverpool have been nowhere near good enough to take advantage.
still rely far too heavily on Steven Gerrard. Dalglish has signed a
number of midfield players but the fact remains that when Gerrard
doesn’t play Liverpool can look predictable and mundane.
from the field, Dalglish’s part in the Luis Suarez saga should not be
Results matter, of course, but reputation is important too
and Liverpool’s has suffered on Dalglish’s watch.
Liverpool fans may continue to back him but the outside world looks at
Anfield with raised eyebrows these days and it’s sad that one of their
iconic figures has played a part in that.
Has this season been a disaster No. Has it been good enough An FA Cup triumph would help persuade me.
Dominic King: He's the right man for Anfield
It was on a balmy night in Oslo last August that Kenny Dalglish was presented with his Liverpool mission by owner John W Henry.
Having backed Dalglish’s judgment to the tune of 113million, Henry declared before Liverpool’s 3-3 friendly draw with Norwegian side Valerenga that anything other than a top-four finish would be ‘major disappointment’.
Judging Dalglish strictly on Premier League results, the only logical conclusion is that there is significant room for improvement. Currently 12 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, Liverpool will not be returning to the Champions League.
Contenders: Liverpool will face either Everton or Sunderland in their FA Cup semi-final
For those full of hope when Dalglish was re-appointed manager 14 months ago, the way this campaign has played out — culminating in Wednesday’s preposterous collapse at Loftus Road — has come as a huge shock. But for all that criticism is deserved it must also be tempered.
In terms of silverware, this season has the potential to be Liverpool’s best since 2001. The Carling Cup has been won and they have a great chance of adding the FA Cup. How, then, could it be said that Dalglish is not doing a good job Liverpool are a club that exist to win trophies and to complete a Wembley double in May would make him the envy of all bar the team eventually crowned champions. It would provide the best possible solace for no top-four finish.
But it should not mask that there is serious work to be done, on and off the pitch. Liverpool’s reputation has taken a battering in recent months and neutrals are finding the club difficult to warm to. This must change.
So, too, must the erratic nature of their performances in the Premier League. Two wins in 2012 is not good enough but Dalglish knows that better than anyone. And he, undoubtedly, is the man to put it right.