Following yesterday’s joke of a display against a spirited Bolton side, Kenny Dalglish voiced his anger at the attitude of the players and their lack of desire for the club and respect for their opponents. That’s all well and good but is that it? Does the buck stop squarely with the players? Surely Dalglish and his staff have a responsibility here also.
Dalglish was correct, the players were poor and the supporters and the club deserve and expect much more than they’re currently getting. Excuses about cup games etc are simply not good enough. I believe most Liverpool supporters will agree that of the 11 players that started the match yesterday, only TWO are players that you could without question say are really and truly committed to playing for Liverpool Football Club in my opinion, Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy. The likes of Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel. So so. Good players but with average attitude. That’s part of the reason why the team is performing so poorly. Most of those who take to the field in a red jersey don’t really give a toss to the club. Yes they have a certain pride to be playing for such an illustrious club, yes they’re proud to be playing in the Premiership but, for me, that’s about it.
There is no desire from this team. With the exception of the two players I’ve mentioned, none of the other starters have it. On the bench Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt, Martin Kelly and Jonjo Shelvey qualify. The others, I’d personally get rid of as soon as possible and take any financial loss that comes with it. The likes of Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson are nothing but a joke. Maxi Rodriguez is a good player but I’m not sure if he’d insist on staying if one of the mainland Europe majors came in for him, and being 31, he’s probably here to see out the remaining couple of years on his contract and return to South America. The honeymoon period is over. They should be aware of what is expected of them on the pitch and be able to carry out the Manager’s instructions. They should be familiar with the team’s system of play. This unfortunately does not appear to be the case.
The absence of Luis Suarez has shown just how shallow the depth in this Liverpool squad is and anybody that disagrees with this must be either blind or a supporter of another club. Liverpool have been relying on thirty-somethings to have any sort of impact this season and it simply isn’t good enough. If Liverpool wish to fulfil their aspirations of European football next season they need more experienced players, with desire and pride. I’m not going to say “You win nothing with kids” but said kids need to be good enough in order to stand a chance. If not, then those aspirations have to be tempered somewhat and based more on reality than romantic expectation founded on days gone by.
Why exactly are these not-quite-upto-it youngsters and wannabes at the club? Well look no further than the management. They didn’t simply waltz into Melwood and announce themselves as part of the “set-up”. John W. Henry didn’t buy them so that only leaves Dalglish and his (literally) silent partner Damien Comolli. Of all of the transfers these two have made, only Bellamy, Suarez and Enrique have had any real impact. The rest have done nothing but make empty promises and big each other up in the press. Nonsense. Carroll recently said Gerrard will help him get his form back… Well…? Where is this form? Not seen it yet! The talk in the press is all lip-service. Mention of consistency, being more clinical etc etc. That drivel is no good in the papers. It needs to be shown on the pitch. Dalglish can no longer defend them. He has to either take responsibility for making poor signings or go himself.
It burns me to say that because I adored Dalglish as a player. Fantastic he was, and part of the heritage of the club but that’s where it stops. Dalglish had a winning team the first time round as Manager but this lot are far, far removed. Nowhere near in terms of attitude, desire, or even ability. It’s time for Dalglish to get rid of a few players before they also become dead wood. Carroll for sure should go in the summer. Same goes for Downing and Henderson. I don’t see why Dalglish puts so much faith in Henderson and sends Shelvey out on load. It should be the other way round!
Dalglish must look to bring in some alternatives. Transfers are always a matter of hit and miss I believe. A very difficult task, granted. However having said that, the manager has to accept his misses, get rid of them and try again. Otherwise, those same players will be responsible for his inevitable departure. This is crucial for Dalglish. Talk is all well and good but I want to see what he does with certain players at the end of the season. The team needs more players that identify with the club in some way that makes them perform.
I said, to great ridicule at the beginning of this season that Liverpool would struggle to make the Champions League and I stand by that. There’s been nothing to make me change my mind. Not poor refereeing decisions, not hitting the post 216 times, not bad luck. None of these things make any difference. Liverpool FC have to start making their own luck and not excuses. Dalglish knows this and I think he’d better get this through to his players before he becomes their next victim. The players have to step up, or he steps down.
By Ben Green
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