With their longstanding record of 18 league titles overtaken by Manchester United preparation, the subsequent and much needed re-build has begun in earnest at Anfield. In no uncertain terms, last season would have been a disaster for Liverpool had Kenny Dalglish not been brought in to steady the metaphorical ship and guide them forward.
Roy Hodgson was never a popular choice to take over from Rafa Benitez as Liverpool manager, but he didn’t do himself many favours when he bemoaned the lack of support he was getting from the fans: “Ever since I came here the famous Anfield support hasn’t really been there.” There was only ever one man that could replace Hodgson after that and get the support of the famous Kop back on side – Kenny Dalglish.
Dalglish – inherited a Liverpool side languishing mid-table in 12th – before leading them to a 6th place finish and narrowly missing out on the Europa League spot in the process – the first time they haven’t qualified for Europe since 2000. In the long run, it’ll probably be beneficial for Liverpool not to have the distraction of a European competition.
Paul Hayward wrote an article for The Guardian this weekend, and stated: “Kenny Dalglish is rebuilding not for a title push but a solid top-three place from which a proper challenge can then be mounted.” And it is hard to disagree with him. Naturally, expectations will be bloated – some may suggest Liverpool will win the title this season but the main priority is Champions League football.
So far, this summer, Liverpool have signed – Jordan Henderson, Stuart Downing, Doni and Charlie Adam. The fees that some have been signed for are an entirely different matter, however, having spent over £100m since taking over John Henry – FSG, working in tandem with Daniel Comolli and Kenny Dalglish – it is a statement of their intent to get Liverpool back to where they belong. Comolli referred to Stuart Downing as the “missing link” that Liverpool needed. A cursory glance at Downing’s crossing stats (243) suggests that Comolli is correct. You can expect plenty of his crosses landing on Andy Carroll’s head next season.
It was Blackpool manager Ian Holloway that said of Charlie Adam: “If he plays well, we play well,” Slick passing is just one aspect of the Scot’s game. He also gives Liverpool a great option from the dead-ball situation – corners and free-kicks, another cursory glance at statistics would tell us this is somewhere the Reds have been lacking a threat from also.
It was evident in the latter stages of last season that Liverpool were paying more attention to passing – this pass and move mentality was instilled by Dalglish and Steve Clarke from the off, and it was bloody good to watch (speaking as a fan of a rival club).
Despite grumblings about the prices Liverpool have paid for some of their signings, they are all very shrew buys coupled with the Dalglish factor the Reds are a work in progress. Talk of equalling Manchester United’s record or bettering it? Well – it’s far too soon to say.