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Tinkering, Suarez-gate or Simply Not Good Enough?

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ONE of the Barclays Premier league’s biggest talking points this season has been the somewhat perplexing decline of Liverpool Football Club and the wilting of their legendary stature in British football. Our stuttering and on occasion embarrassing league form, starkly contrasted with our impressive cup exploits has been a difficult pill for all Kopites to swallow this year and one which has drawn a plethora of views throughout the football world.

Radio talk shows, newspaper columns and countless discussion forums have been swamped with LFC frustration particularly since the turn of the year with King Kenny’s Reds coming in for some fierce criticism from all quarters.

So with the curtain of season 2011/12 about to fall the question all Reds fans will be asking is, where did it all go wrong??

Well, with £50 million worth of summer investment to add to the £60 million already spent by FSG on record signing Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, expectation for King Kenny’s first full season back at the helm of his beloved Liverpool after a 22 year absence was at fever pitch. The popular opinion was that Liverpool were a decent bet for a return to Champions League football. There were even some suggestions that the reds could give both United and City a serious challenge for the Premier League title.

In all honesty it didn’t start too badly, after a distinctly average pre-season our half way point analysis was without setting the world on fire pretty encouraging. 39 points from a possible 57 wasn’t exactly title form but was a respectable return given the amount of new faces at Anfield.

Excellent away wins at Arsenal and Chelsea and a home win over Everton in the Derby was coupled with a home point against Man United and an away point at the Etihad. A top 4 place really did look a possibility in the early months of the season. However a repetitive script had already been witnessed by the Anfield faithful at the turn of the year as lackluster home draws against Swansea, Wigan, Norwich and Blackburn combined to remove the early season gloss earned in the opening weeks of the season.

It seems like every season since the introduction of the Premier League there has invariably been a month in which our season’s destiny has been decided, and this year was to be no different. The 2011/12 season has contained perhaps the month of all months in relation to the season’s destiny; the month I am referring to is of course October.

Could it be that Saturday the 15th of October at around 13:48 was the defining moment of our season? Unless you happened to be on a Russian space station hovering over Mars that day then the events of that stormy Anfield clash with Manchester United will be all too easy to recite. The post match hysteria was like nothing ever witnessed in modern Premier League history. It was almost impossible to pick a newspaper up, turn on a TV or radio or log onto any football blog or website without being bombarded with story after story of the fall out of that now very infamous Premier League fixture.
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Make no mistake this was a huge turning point in our season, it was no coincidence that the moment the FA charged Suarez with racially abusing Evra the beginning of the end of our season had begun. From that moment on and for the first time in a footballing eternity the collective disapproval of the football world and what has seemed like the entirety of the UK press have had the proverbial knives out for King Kenny, Luis Suarez and quite frankly anything LFC.

Never has the cliché a tale of two halves been so apt when summing up a football clubs fortunes over 38 games……it has literally been night and day. Night and day is also an analogy that can be used to describe our league form versus that of our impressive cup exploits.

It has been a very strange contrast indeed and has left many a puzzled Liverpool fan searching for answers. Why is it that we have managed to get things so right on one hand and then so completely wrong on the other. That question brings us nicely to our next point.

Tinkering had never even been heard of until the perennial tinkerman himself….the charismatic Italian Claudio Ranieri entered the Premier League and the cauldron of Chelsea football club. These days the Premier League’s most elite and respected managers usually refer to this plagiarized continental approach as “squad rotation” or “keeping players fresh”.

Whilst it is difficult to argue against the benefit of fresh players and the advantages of having a depth of squad that allows this, it is also extremely evident just how strong the advantage of having a settled starting 11 and then rotating to a bare minimum can be. Skeptics to this point need only look to La Liga for evidence…. after all how often does Guardiola rest Pique, Puyol, Alves, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi and of course the maestro Mr Messi??

When speaking of Liverpool specifically it is really quite simple so plain and straightforward are the facts, in 36 Premier League games Dalglish has not once named an unchanged starting 11. A staggering fact I’m sure you will agree. It is well documented that the Reds have experienced more than their fair share of injuries this season. With Lucas missing for pretty much the whole season and the likes of Gerrard, Agger, Johnson and Kelly all missing for large periods combined with the 8 game ban served by Luis Suarez for the Patrice Evra incident, then it’s fair to say that Kenny hasn’t exactly had it easy in relation to his strongest eleven.

Can it really be just a coincidence that the output of those 36 different team sheets has been a return of just 49 points? 13 losses and 10 draws is by no means a record to be shouting about particularly with the fact that 13 of those results have been at Anfield. If you couple that with the fact that we have won only 13 league games all season, the same number as our losses then there is enough evidence to prove that the squad rotation philosophy this time around has well and truly backfired.

So whether it’s Luis Suarez’s shortcomings, a starting eleven that has changed more times than the dugout at Chelsea or simply the fact that that we have just been unbelievably poor the rumblings of Liverpool’s mediocre season will be heard long into the summer months. Only time will tell if King Kenny will be around to answer them.

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  • Ahmad says:

    Dalglish doesn’t know how to change tactics during a game (how could he? He wouldn’t know a tactic if it smashed him in the face) and I’m reasonably certain he doesn’t cope vey well under pressure.

    It takes courage to admit you don’t have it anymore and that courage is lacking in KD. Yes LFC played scintillating stuff in the first half last night, but for them it was a meaningless game with no pressure, nobody had ever seen them play like that before etc etc and thus Chelsea were rolled over.

    A lot of the second half was ‘a resumption of normal service’ ie meandering play, misplaced passes etc etc stuff that we have come to expect under Dalglish’s ‘second coming’.

    I would like to dedicate the first half of last night to Dalglish and wave him goodbye after sunday’s game.

  • Karl says:

    One word MAXI! I will admit our strike force has been lacklustre but we have had a poor midfield, Henderson played on the right instead of kuyt and Downing instead of Maxi both of these players are ‘clever’ players and would have performed I believe better provided better service and more movement not to mention probably a few more goals.
    Lucas has been a massive blow for us none of our current squad can play that role as well as he has and it’s showed. Someone has to be bought for the right hand side and a cover for defensive midfield I do not think we need to spend big just a little more clever.

    Kenny has one more season and I believe Carroll will prove himself he’s still only 22. This is the first season in a long time when I have switched off from our play and I can’t really take much more of this…..

  • ss says:

    Worrying for Liverpool.

    I really think we need a good manager/coach especially if Liverpool going for youth and if the owner insists of having a sporting director, the we need a good tactical manager to configure the right tactic for the acquired players.

    Clearly Kenny cannot work in this environment, and if KD is so upset about how media portrays Carrol why doesn’t he trust Carrol and plays him more often.

  • ss says:

    If we play 433 next year, I don’t think Carrol can do it as a lone striker, as he has no pace. If we play 422 clearly Hendo and Spearing are not the best combo even Stevie G and Lucas are not a good combo especially now Stevie G has lost his mobility.

  • Liam says:

    Anyone thinks that we should snap up players from blackburn and wolves since they are alr relegated?

  • seano says:

    Poor signings made on the back of a romantic idea.
    We already had Lucas,Mereiles and Aqualani(who was
    the stand out player in pre-season) in the centre
    of midfield KD and Comolli opted for Hendo and Adam.The needs of the squad completely overlooked.No pace added,no creativity and no backup holding midfielder,no backup striker.
    Hendo signed as a centre mid yet played out on the right in almost every game.Poor as player in his natural position in relation to what we already had and even worse as a right mid.Tactics and selection puzzling and players unable to understand or adapt to the way Dalglish wanted them to play.In short no plan A and no plan B.No mystery as to why we are where we are – no world class players besides Suarez,Agger,Gerard and Reina(poor season by his standards)The rest ,Skrtel excluded would struggle to get into the top 7 teams starting lineups. Poor quality ,poor tactics and out of touch with regards to the modern game = Newcastle,Fulham,WestBrom and a host of others equal to or better than us and 40 points off 1st place.Spearing,Adam,Hendo,Downing,Kuyt and Maxi have to be moved on and replaced with better players.Shelvey has more drive,guts and talent than Hendo could wish to develop yet he hardly gt a game despite Hendo being anonymous in almost every game he plays.

  • NJRedsFan says:

    The almost pathetic obstinance was unbearable to watch. Adam, clearly too slow and below grade in his play an automatic inclusion? Henderson, young and inexperienced is persistantly played out of position. Downing, left or right side? He showed some glimpses on the left but was rarely played with the intended target of his crosses and went missing in action far too often. Maxi, when played, would do well and often score ensuring an automatic exclusion from the next team sheet. The biggest loss was Lucas, a void never really filled. Shelvey was brought back from a loan in which he was having a very good year, a move that made sense to pretty much everyone who watched him make solid contributions the last half of last year. Then we were left scratching our heads when he was left on the bench or not even included on the team sheet.
    Can you blame Maxi and Kuyt for wanting to leave? Would anyone be perplexed if Shelvey wanted out?

  • Jack says:

    The world is ending in December, so I wouldn’t worry anymore. 🙂

  • Mahj says:

    I really can’t see them sacking Kenny this summer. They’ve just paid off Hodgson for terminating his contract and publicy backed Kenny a couple of weeks back. Who would they bring in that would guarantee success and stability. I think Kenny will get another year!

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