Why We'll Never Walk Alone
Sorry for the length of this article, this is a good form of therapy for me right now. Please feel free to weigh in. If you dabble on the site please join and throw your comments in the mix. Your opinions count and we love to hear feeback.
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Liverpool Football Club currently sit 8th in the Premier League table on 42 points four points clear of the logjam of 9th - 13th place. LFC have collected only 8 points since we have turned the calendar to 2012. That is a relegation worthy effort of only a paltry 0.66 points per match. What's worse are the clubs that we have dropped points to: Stoke, Bolton, Sunderland, QPR, Wigan, and NUFC. These are all clubs in which LFC have far outspent in recent transfer windows but continue to struggle against. There have been ups and downs (Derby result against Everton, QPR "epic collapse", Wigan embarrassment). Kenny Dalglish's run has turned sour and could spiral out of control if damage control is not done quickly. The stated objective was at least 4th place and a Champions League spot after over £100M was spent in the transfer windows last year (I know that we netted much less with Nando's incoming cash but we should still be good stewards of cash, the fact is that we SPENT the incoming cash on something look at it as reinvesting) and did not invest our money wisely at this point. With FSG's stated objective unless we magically finish 4th then I figure this season was a bust. Sure we won silverware but I would give up the Carling Cup for a spot in the UCL next season. Cash inflow and being in a better position to get marquee players in the summer window stands to build more success than the domestic cup. There are even rumors that FSG is asking for Kenny and Damien's strategic plan to and an investigation into why the league form is so bad. I've also seen rumors that FSG is out of cash and a renovated Anfield or new stadium will never happen.
Transfers are only one part of the issue at Liverpool Football Club. Paying a premium for average talent is not a good business practice that goes without saying. Hopefully FSG have learned their lesson playing the British Experiment. This will not work and if they continue to do so you will only see our club fall further and further down the table. I see a far more disturbing issue at LFC. The players have given up on this season and are at a boiling point. See last weekend's disaster as an example. Andy Carroll's dive and subsequent actions when subbed, Pepe's head-butt which has seen him banned for 3 matches, Steven Gerrard telling Dalglish "to sit down and shut up" during Kenny's run on the pitch after Pepe's red. All these things are a microcosm of emotional events that have occurred during our season. There was Luis's race row, LFC's bungling PR fallout, Lucas lost to ACL injury, AC's continued crap form, etc. The LFC lads are carry an immense amount of emotional baggage from this season. Kenny has to instill some order in the club. Also, senior players such as Steven Gerrard need to step up and take the reigns. There should be pride in wearing the Liverbird and crest on their chests. There are 5 stars on the crest because we are Liverpool Football Club and expectations are always high. We are England's most decorated club and top four is expected every season. Kenny Dalglish is a players manager and I feel has good relationships with his players but if the current slide continues at the worst I see transfer requests this summer from players like Agger, Pepe, Luis, Skrtel, and Dirk.
Kenny Dalglish has made some questionable tactical choices, plays his midfield quartet out of position often, and has placed an equal amount of importance on cup runs than the league (tiring and depleting an already thin squad). Remember at the end of last campaign during the summer when we all laughed at the amount of midfield talent that we had coming into the season(Stevie, Raul, Aqua, Hendo, Shelvey, Spearing, Lucas, etc, etc) These can all be questionable gambles and we have discussed all these errors here at Anfield Asylum to the point of causing us to drink excessively. One thing I know about Kenny is that he is a Red to the bone and he loves this club. He is not entirely at fault here. Many opportunities have been wasted on the pitch think of the draws where we have had clear cut chances, the amount of woodwork shots, shoddy defending, missed penalties and injuries. Ultimately the manager is responsible for managing the club. This falls on Kenny and Steve Clarke's shoulders unfortunately. I am not sure if it is lack of preparation in practice, lack of foresight, etc. Kenny is working within his means but wasted opportunities on several fronts are causing our league campaign to come to a frustrating end.
We all tend to forget we were on the brink of administration a couple of years back. Hicks and Gillette almost drove the club we all love into the ground. FSG saved us from that disaster and then splashed cash in two successive transfer windows. I have no reason to doubt their want for a better club in their economic interest (I happen to feel that if FSG benefits, we as Red fans benefit). FSG are also playing the revenue generating game very well. They secured a new shirt deal with Warrior, they are exploring advertising ideas and naming rights. These are all things to ensure a constant cash flow to ensure a stable economic future. Prudent scholars of the league will note that FSG likely wasted cash on players rated as average but paid a premium due to their nationality. Damien has imparted his statistical knowledge about chance creation and we statistically have those players (Downing, Luis, Stevie - when not played out of position, Hendo) but we lack the finishing skills. Huge oversight on FSG's part and this showed their naïveté in the football world. They are new to the sport and are learning. They entrusted Damien and the front office to take on this aspect of the club. I would expect Damien to be released this summer.
I feel that Kenny was never intended to be a long term solution at LFC. His goal was to get the club to 4th place and then hand over the reigns. His appointment would only ever lead to two scenarios: restoring the club to glory or failing. We all had our Red colored glasses on when he was appointed as manager, didn't we? I think Kenny should get the rest of the season. I am conflicted about his future after that. Part of me says that we need to look in a new direction, but where as Bro has pointed out to me. Perhaps AVB could step in. He lured Juan Mata to Chelsea, had other Porto starts wanting to come to his new club. He was also toxic in the dressing room (apparently, not entirely sure) so that could further hinder LFC. My question to those who want Kenny to have one more go is this: We need transfers this summer, who is going to come to a club on the way down and with no UCL footy? Bringing in a new manager could help attract new talent. I respect Kenny Dalglish more than any Red fan and appreciate what he has done, but it does not grant him a pass when others would have been sacked. He did inherit some bad players, most of them gone. He was given free reign during last summers window and squandered a lot of cash.
This is not all doom and gloom, there are some promising signs at LFC. The youth placed third and competed very well in the NextGen series. They were given a break when the Spurs withdrew but none the less showed signs of a great youth movement on the horizon. Names like Irbe, Flannagan, Hendo, Texieria, Coates, Ngoo, Wisdom, Sterling, Morgan, and company all could have very bright futures in the league. We all owe Rafa a huge thank you for his contribution to setting up a solid youth factory. Perhaps bringing him back is a worthwhile endeavor? What I know is that this transfer window is huge we are a few solid players shy of competing for fourth. Let's use the kids as cover next season, give them a run in Europa and the Cup campaigns. I am hoping that FSG has learned their lesson after not buying a striker in the January window. That could have well cost us a run at 4th.
Isn't this why we all love this club?
Liverpool fans - You'll never walk alone (via matthijsvl)
4/4/12 UPDATE: Read this article by Paul Tomkins. Excellent article on English vs International talent. He laments my very concern about a continued "English Experiment".