Monday, 9 January 2012

One year on - Is Kenny still King?

Kenny Dalglish completed one year in charge of Liverpool Football Club over the weekend.

A lot has been said about how Kenny has had an excellent year when comparing Liverpool’s standing in the league now to where they where when he took over.

But Liverpool shouldn’t be comparing themselves to their lowest point of recent history - rather the height of just a few seasons ago.

Rafa Benitez did have a poor season to finish off his tenure, but he also had 5 great years.

And Kenny took over just 5 footballing months after Rafa.

Any comparisons should be made between Liverpool now and Liverpool under the great Spaniard.

This is where I have great difficulty in believing Kenny has done an excellent job so far.

He is not a patch on the master tactician and while you could argue that Rafa never lifted that elusive league title, that just goes to show how much further Kenny will have to go if he is to realise the dreams of the Anfield club.

Rafa never played the attractive brand of football that has become synonymous with teams like Manchester United or Arsenal, but his defensive set-up and tactical shrewdness meant he endeared himself to the purists of the game.

There was nothing more fascinating to watch than Rafa’s team defy the far superior attacking sides time and time again, bringing great success to Liverpool, namely in the Champions League.

Kenny, having spent over 10 years out of the game, has brought back all the passion, belief and inspiration that is loved on the terraces up and down England.

But he hasn’t added any tactical shrewdness - something that Rafa had in abundance.

The sort of tactical mind that is needed to take a team from being happy to compete for 4th place in the Premier League every season to a team that has their sights set on actually winning it.

What helped Kenny land the job was being a former player and manager of this great club.

If any Liverpool supporter actually thought about it objectively for one moment - handing the reigns of the club over to a man who had been out of the game for 10 years was ludicrous.

All this talk of ‘The return of the King’ was bound to cloud the issues for supporters - given the phenomenal support that Kenny could expect on the terraces from past glories.

Ultimately, they will be judge, jury and executioner for Kenny.

But walking into a courtroom when all 12 men are heralding you as a ‘King’ can only lead to clouded judgement.

For starters, his dealings in the transfer market have been questionable at best.

The signing of Andy Carroll his biggest mistake so far.

£35 million for a player of his quality was a massive misjudgment on his part.

However, his decision to sell Fernando Torres was both shrewd and brave.

An absolute hero to the Liverpool fateful and one of only two genuine world class players at the club.

But Kenny had seen signs of his demise and managed to top up his transfer kitty with £50 million.

Luis Suarez, whilst having undoubted talent, has question marks hanging over him following his 8 game ban for racism and 1 game ban for making an obscene gesture to opposition supporters.

Kenny was already aware of the disciplinary side of the ‘Cannibal of Ajax’, so aptly named by a Dutch newspaper following his 7 game ban for biting an opponents ear in Holland.

He will have his work cut out to make sure Luis doesn’t go the way of someone like Carlos Tevez.

However, the potential is there for Kenny to turn Luis into a world class player, if he can get the best out of his little South American.

Charlie Adam, whilst only costing £7 million, looks nothing more than a decent squad player, looking desperately short since the recent return of Steven Gerard.

Steven has shown immediately in his few games back, what is needed to be a general in the Liverpool midfield.

Good judgement on Kenny’s part was the signing of Jose Enrique, who has slotted in excellently to a defensive unit that Kenny is starting to build for the team.

But Stewart Downing until this weekend, had zero goals and zero assists.

Not the sort of return needed from an attacking winger.

Kenny just can’t seem to get the best out of his signing.

But with only one year in charge, and not even a full season to date, now is not the time to judge him.

He has his work cut out and should be given time during this transitional period.

However, with £115 million having already been spent, he is only in touching distance of fourth place because Arsenal and Chelsea are massively underachieving this season.

In a season without distractions like European competition either.

Kenny has appeased the terraces so far when supporters compare him to Roy Hodgson.

But he has a long way to go before he gets back to where Rafa had this great club.

Let alone to where the supporters really want to be...


  1. I remember at a wedding in Italy arguing with you how great rafa was, but you were on the anti rafa side lol

  2. Ah true, I was disappointed Rafa didn't get closer to winning the league in his time there but still reckon he's miles ahead of Kenny!!

  3. Hi Austin... as a "biased" L'pool fan this article seems to have an unbalanced slant to it and to me omits a number of key points.....

    Firstly you quote the gross outlay of £115m but in real terms LP's net spend under KD is c.£38m... Put in context he has re-shuffled his squad for the same net price City spent on Aguero... He's also trimmed the wage bill down to c.£30m which is down the league table of wages outlay so in economic terms he's adjusting the club to the moneyball philosophy (with the help of Camoli!)

    The "lubricous" assertion of handing over the reins to someone "out of the game for over 10 years" is also an overused cliche about KD...He may have been out if management but he's been to virtually every LP game over the years including youths, reserve games and academy so he had an in-depth knowledge of the fabric of the club...More importantly he has surrounded himself with a top class back room team in Steve Clarke & Kevin Keen who both have excellent technical records in the modern game and this is evident in both tactics & defence (cont'd below)

  4. I was a fan of Benitez myself as he did achieve results with his system... However in the end he did take Liverpool backwards and he did leave a weakened squad low on moral / confidence. He wasn't a knight in shining armour on the transfer Market and a couple that stick out were losing Alonso in his peak to RM as he wanted Gareth Barry... Failing GB's signature we ended up with an injured Aquilani for £20m.... No further comment...The 09/10 season saw us finish 5th with an early exit from the CL too... He lacked consistency, and the combo of obsessive Squad rotation, Zonal marking & obscure decision making in the end lost the dressing room and the Kop... History will be right,y kind to RB but the wheels fell off the wagon in his final season...

    Don't forget KD inherited a much more maligned squad than the one RB did when he went on the win CL in Yr1. Players like Konchesky, Cole, Aquilani, Insua, kyriakos, to name a few were deadwood and that's before Torres walked out 2 weeks into his tenure and his captain SG injured for the majority too.. KD had a massive project on his hands and I believe he has genuinely strengthened the squad, Bellamy, Enrique are top signings combined fee of £5.5m! I think Henderson at 22 will be an excellent player and there for the long term. Downing while disappointing to date I believe will have a strong 2nd half of season.

    I agree the price on Carroll is unwarranted but on the flip side most people will tell you that Saurez @ £22m was a bargain! Both are young.

    Finally KD is a man manager, he has united the dressing room... Both Agger & Johnson have said they love playing under him... They both were on the verge of leaving under previous managers... He's clued into the Academy and is brining in exciting new talent such as Kelly, Sterling, Robinson, Flanagan etc Hes brought the best out of Lucas who has been playing the football of his life recently The defence is playing as a unit and conceded the east amount of goals in the PL to date. We've hit the woodwork 20 times already this season
    and a little bit more sharpness in front of goal we will see Liverpool finishing strongly this year... He has been out of management but he hasn't been away from the game or club!

  5. Lot's of points against most of what you said here.

    RAFA: Rafa(not him alone - a certain pair of cowboys had a strong part in it too) left the club in a shambles. Let's look at his achievements.

    European Cup in 2005. Essentially, this was the Frenchman's team (Traore, Hyppia, Finnan, Hamann, Kewell, Cisse etc). Fair enough, Alonso and Garcia were very important in their European success, but let's not forget, Liverpool finished 5th in the league this season, and were only allowed 'qualify' for the next year's competition because they won the trophy. Very dubious goal against Chelsea in the semi-final, and a perfectly good goal from Schevchenko disallowed in the final (would have been to make it 4-0 at half-time).

    FA Cup 2006 - let's be honest, there was no 'genius' about winning this. If it wasn't for 1 man and his legs crampping up, they would have lost. Gerrard, as has been for a decade, rescuing them. F'n great goal though.

    And that's it. Nothing since then - second in the league. In a season where he benched Torres (when he was actually in form - remember when he used to be good??), and he had a hissy fit about signing Robbie Keane, and sold him within months (at loss of £5 million or so).

    I specifically remember a game against Hull (2-2 at Anfield). Liverpool bombarding them the last 15 or 20. One sub left, Rafa brings on Lucas for Mascherano?? With Keane on the bench.

    Fair enough, injuries blah, blah - every club has to put up with it. Look at Utd now - they can hardly field an 11 with the injuries they have. Gerrard and Torres only played something like 15 games together that season they finished 2nd, but who's fault is that? Why so reliant on 2 players? Rafa spending millions on substandard full backs (Josemi, Dossena etc). Jesus, remember Vorinin (although I dont think he was paid for).

    Anyway, enough about Rafa.

    KENNY: I'm insulted as a Liverpool fan that you think we'd compare Kenny Dalglish to Woy Hodgson. Woy was a mistake. He's a mid-table manager at best. But - power of the media, he was 'the next England Manager', remember? Don't hear that now.

    Kenny's managerial record speaks for itself, I won't go over his history at Liverpool and Blackburn as a Manager. He has been out of the game a long time, but any Liverpool fan will tell you, the improvements are noted (from when Wafa left, not Woy). Liverpool are essentially playing with a brand new midfied - Downing, Henderson, Adam, (Spearing & Shelvey can be included too). The best defensive midfielder in the League has just been knocked for the season, and we've just gotten SG back (trust me Man U fans, he's a lot more important to us than a certain Ginger lad is to you).

    Kenny, Clarke and Co need time to blend this together.

    Up to the Man City game, we had the best defence in the league. We've also hit the post more times than anyone (considerably). Downing, but for the woodwork, would have 4 or 5 goals this season.

    That's all if's and but's, however, my point is that - but for the rub of the green, Liverpool would be the team in pole position for 4th in the league (or higher), and it would be the London clubs doing the chasing.

  6. SIGNINGS: Carroll - no complaints, disasterous. But not necessarily a financial one. Money was made on that girly boy being sold to Chewwwlsea. And Carroll's goal rate is stil better than his (Torres scored more PL goals for Liverpool in 2011 than for Chelsea - and he left in January). Carroll I think was a mistake, but his fee is a sign of the way ridiculous money (particularly if players are English)is being spent. That need to get the top four, when there are 6 or 7 clubs going for it.

    Downing: If he doesn't end up in prison for GBH (great week for the club), Downing could be a game winner. The ability is there. There seems to be an element of 'feeling the pressure' for some of these new lads. He has a link with the Spanish full-back, and at times, has looked great (run against Sunderland opening day which, oh yeah, he hit the bar from with the shot).

    Adam - don't feel he's a good enough player for Liverpool. These days, 7 million is cheap. Gets booked too much, no pace, and looks like a Scottish Spongebob Squarepants with those teeth.

    Enrique - excellent. One of the signings of the season.

    Henderson - big price tag. Stil very young, and also not being played in his best position. But there are sparks there (cross for Suarez in League Cup against Stoke).

    Liverpool have spent a lot of money, but then again, so have other teams. Utd - Young (is he ever fit?), Jones (mostly good, but had trouble keeping the ball in play against City in FA Cup for some reason), De Gea (looks like a mouse, and plays like one too), Scholes (good young player).

    Chelsea (Mata - hardly set the league alight has he?).

    Truth is, English football is at the point where success has to be instant. Only one team can win the League, that's what seems to be forgotten. Nobody wants to wait for it. Liverpool fans have waited 20+ years, and it will be a few more - we're used to it. It will come around, just have to have faith in your team, no matter how racist they are.

  7. @PuffinHugger

    Kenny has spent £115 million. Irrespective of how much he recouped, the quality of player that he has brought in would suggest that despite been given a massive budget to spend, he hasn't seemed to have brought in £115 million worth of player. Carroll for £35 million was just £3 million short of a player like Sergio Aguero. It doesn't matter that he was sold the same time as Fernando Torres, £35 million for Carroll was a massive misjudgement.

    Kenny was out of football for ten years at the very top level. Much has changed during this time. Managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson have mentioned how much more difficult it is to deal with the top players and how they are so much more protected these days. Kenny spent that time dealing with kids. Maybe, his handling of the current Suarez situation will someday lead to highlight how he first encountered this problem?

    As for Rafa - I have never felt that he was good enough to take Liverpool to the title. But he stood a much better chance than Kenny ever will.

    Question: Do you think Kenny Dalglish will win Liverpool the Premier League in the next 5 years?

  8. @Eoin

    Excellent point on "English football is at the point where success has to be instant". And on this, I believe we should judge Kenny after he has been given enough time to have had a fair shot at it. However, irrespective of all that has gone on in the last 5 years at Anfield, do you feel Kenny is the man to not only bring Liverpool forward but to also bring them the title?

  9. why do liverpool fans keep mentioning how they have hit the woodwork 20 times this season?that just shows how bad their finishing is!! stupide point.

  10. @TheBoxBlog
    I would certainly hope so. It is much more difficult to win the league now with Chelsea, City and now Spurs in the frame too. FSG are ambitious owners and I think the management team will be looking to be at least competing for the league by next year rather than continually scrapping it out for 4th and I understand that their priority is to win the league again. I think KD will be afforded the time to build his squad and if he does I do think he's more than capable of bringing Titles back to Anfield.

    Hardly a stupid point.... It illustrates the fact that Liverpool are an attacking side, they're creating chances and simply not putting them away which points to my earlier assertion that they need to be more clinical in front of goal. Whether the solution is to buy another striker or winger well so be it but their Goals For stat doesn't tell the full picture hence my point!