|By Lawrence Ostlere
Kenny Dalglish was thrown a life vest as Liverpool’s premier league campaign sank into the mire. Damien Comolli’s departure as Liverpool’s director of football signaled Dalglish will not be the fall guy for what could be the club’s worst ever Premier league position and points tally.
Domestic cup success has not disguised failure to re-attain or even challenge for a lucrative position in the top four and the Champions League. Dalglish must now address the issue of how to step up from mid-table mediocrity to the title challenging European power that the club’s history demands, of which King Kenny himself has written so many chapters.
First he must cure his team’s ailment. The squad is riddled with players that would not stand-out in a Championship side and this has created a huge imbalance of talent.
Dalglish fields world class quality in Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard shoulder-to-shoulder with the lower league impotence of Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey, and the result is a league position that reflects neither.
Liverpool have the worst conversion of chances to goals in the league. Between regular midfielders Spearing, Shelvey, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson 162 Premiership appearances have been amassed so far this season. Goals? Seven.
In 2011 Liverpool invested £113m on seven players, six of whom have never won a league title or boast any Champions League experience. They include Andy Carroll who has been slow and largely ineffective, and Downing who has no goals or assists in the league this season. Henderson has appeared overawed and Adam simply not good enough for a top Premiership side.
The one exception is Luis Suarez who has won league titles with Ajax and international success with Uruguay, scoring plenty of goals for both – no coincidence then that he is the only signing to noticeably improve the team. Liverpool have not bought enough winners like Suarez and Camolli has paid the price.
Dalglish enjoyed the glory years of the 70s and 80s at Anfield as player and manager, cementing his place in Liverpool legend. But the memories could be tainted by his final stint at the club – the summer ahead will be defining. The squad must be squeezed dry of mediocrity and injected with quality.
Liverpool co-owners Henry and Werner will not have closed the exit door behind Camolli and Dalglish must be ruthless in deciding who stays and who goes, or else face the axe himself.
Lawrence Ostlere is a freelance writer and can be reached at: email@example.com