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In this issue... 2..... Editorial 4..... Where’s the love for Dirk? 7..... Where does Hendo fit in? 8..... Confessions of a miserable barsteward 10..... Jury’s out on FSG 14..... Adamant on Adam 16..... Our second great No.37 18..... Number 7 20..... Bellends 24..... Wembley 28..... England who cares? 30..... Not going 32..... Book extract: On the march... 39..... Hat-trick heroes 44..... A tale that takes some beating 46..... Cult Heroes: Ronny Rosenthal
EDITORIAL No.13 APRIL/MAY 2012
Keep Kenny and carry on
SO how do you see your glass now – half full or half empty?
There’s a cup in the cabinet – the trophy drought is over, we’ve been to new Wembley, we’re going again and we’re back in Europe. Results haven’t always been what we wanted but the football is better. Oh, and we battered Everton.
Revisionism shouldn’t be allowed to take a twisted stranglehold. Winning a cup, any cup, is good. Always. Ditto the derby. Ditto trips to Wembley.
City out of the competition as well as turfing Manchester United out of the FA Cup. And bogey side Stoke. Again.
It proves that this team, or rather this group of individuals – which has been more accurate for the majority of the season – is capable of top-level performances.
The league, though, has been a different story. Genuinely impressive displays - 90minute performances with the right result gleaned by the final whistle – have been in short supply. Early season we won at the Emirates, Goodison and drew with both
Glass half empty? Well, you’ll be slamming the summer signings, pointing the finger at the 17-point swing in the league that saw us lead Arsenal by seven only to trail them by ten and highlighting the shortcomings. Because there have been shortcomings.
But has Dalglish deserved talk of the sack after 14 months? It was interesting to see Gabriele Marcotti compare Dalglish’s second reign with that of the starts made by Rafa, Houllier, Evans and Souness.
League-wise his analysis read: Dalglish: 44 league games in current stint. 74 points. More than Rafa (65), Houllier (63), Evans (68) and Souness (68). He’s also averaging more points than Hodgson despite a pretty barren league spell since the turn of the year.
So it’s not all bad then... While we were poor in the final itself – and Cardiff were good – the results in the Carling Cup were brilliant. We triumphed in tricky away ties with the minimum of fuss.
Lower league opposition – Exeter, Brighton – were swept aside with relative ease. Bogey side Stoke were defeated at their own place, as were Chelsea. And let’s not forget that we knocked Champions-elect Manchester sets of Mancs at home. Not bad. But poor results in the games we were expected to win in the league saw the optimism drain away.
The draws, the chance conversion, the missed penalties, the obsession with hitting the woodwork – all have stretched far beyond just being about luck.
This is a team with problems. It’s in transition of course, and to challenge takes time. But it goes beyond that, as the latter half of the season has proved.
Simply put, for all the possession, for all the shots (off target), it hasn’t worked for much of the campaign.
All season, Liverpool have largely flattered to deceive, playing good football in all the wrong places. But ask yourself this – on the whole – have you been convinced they are going to score? Do Liverpool build momentum, battering teams into submission, carving out clear cut chance after clear cut chance? Too often it’s a no and a no.
There’s some pretty play in parts of the pitch that don’t hurt the opposition. But get to the business end and too often the delivery is poor, the play predictable and EDITORIAL No.13 APRIL/MAY 2012
the finishing woeful. The defence has, in the main, been good. Martin Skrtel has been a revelation, and while Jose Enrique’s performances took a worrying turn for the worse before improving against Everton and Stoke, he remains a good signing.
Glen Johnson has proved his worth, Martin Kelly remains a more than adequate back up and Daniel Agger has been Daniel Agger – brilliant and injury prone. Move upfield and the problems start to rear their ugly heads – yes, you Charlie Adam.
Adam has come in for a lot of flak from fans, most of it deserved. But he is what he is – a £7million midfielder. He’s not, never has been and never will be in the class of someone like Xabi Alonso.
Based on form, Adam hasn’t deserved to play as many games as he has for Liverpool but there have been mitigating circumstances that have forced Dalglish’s hand – 38 games into the season, Steven Gerrard had chalked up 19 appearances with injury and infection blighting the skipper’s season. At the same stage Adam had 34 appearances under his belt. Throw in too Luis Suarez’s nine-match ban – not to mention the shitstorm that surrounded it – and the fact that Lucas Leiva – now undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s most important players – managed just 15 appearances before his season was cut short by cruciate ligament damage.
Dalglish has never had the chance to play his strongest team this season.
If you accept that Liverpool has eight out of 11 right in Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard and Suarez – it is well worth noting that Kenny has NEVER been able to call on all of them at once.
After Lucas’s injury, it’s started to go wrong in the league. From November to March, Liverpool managed just five wins in 17 games in the league.
Up to the defeat at Sunderland, the Reds had picked up 16 out of 42 points since Lucas’ injury. They won 23 points from 13 games before he was injured.
But mitigating circumstances aside, it has to be said too many of Kenny’s signings haven’t blossomed. And it seems the boss has perhaps shown too much faith in the new recruits at times.
The lack of opportunities for Maxi Rodriguez, even Jonjo Shelvey, have been puzzling given the performances of the people ahead of them in the pecking order.
Adam we’ve mentioned. Stewart Downing hasn’t been good enough either. He seems to lack confidence and is all too happy to accept winning a throw or a corner over beating a man. As for his shooting...well it’s been pretty woeful although the beauty against Stoke shows what he’s got in the locker.
Jordan Henderson has shown flashes of potential. At 21, he’s got time to develop. He’s never a right winger though, no matter how many times Kenny puts him out there.
Carroll hasn’t scored enough and Dalglish is clearly losing faith in the number nine judging by his ad-hoc inclusion in the team.
Bellamy’s brilliant but limited by his age and fitness while Sebastien Coates’ time will hopefully come. As it is, he looks raw.
Suarez seemed to have lost all confidence in front of goal. He was scuffing shots, hitting the post and missing penalties. Yet when he was at Ajax, he was scoring all kinds of goals from all over the pitch.
It was ‘only Holland’ but watch the goals on YouTube – the way he was striking the ball then to the way he’s been hitting it in recent times is worlds apart.
Again, we hope the cracker against Stoke in the FA Cup proves to be some sort of watershed for his form.
So what now? Well, as much as the gleeful hacks and the knee-jerk brigade would love it, sacking Dalglish would be ridiculous.
He’s been in the job 14 months, he’s won a trophy, and, regardless of results, the squad IS stronger than it was – Konchesky, Cole and Poulsen anyone?
Kenny has brought unity to the club and the squad, Johnson said as much in a recent interview: “We are a tight unit. We defend together and do everything together. We are close on and off the pitch. Kenny Dalglish is good at that. He places an emphasis on it and makes sure he involves everybody. We look forward to going into training and you can see that on people’s faces.”
But he seems less tactical than Rafa Benitez was and at times that has cost Liverpool. Plan A has often been stubbornly carried out when it hasn’t worked. Whereas Benitez had a clear system, and tried to buy players that worked in that system, Dalglish seems to have bought players then tried to find a system that suits.
So far, he hasn’t got the best out of the new players. Surely that can only get better.
Carroll has improved but in the main looks unsuited to passing football while Adam looks like he needs two central midfielders to do his work if he’s to have any impact. Which begs the question, with the glorious helping hand that hindsight provides, why buy them in the first place?
Liverpool look certain now to fall short in the chase for a Champions League spot but at least Europa League football has been secured. And with another trip to Wembley booked and Damien Comolli seemingly convinced we can attract decent names in the summer, well our glass is looking fuller by the minute.
Editor Gareth Roberts @robbohuyton
Email editor@ wellredmag.co.uk
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