Paul Parker

Questioning Dalglish’s reign is justified

Paul Parker

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Liverpool's owners may have a tough decision to make if the club ends the season in the bottom half of the tab …

On the face of it, Wigan's 2-1 win at Liverpool on Saturday was a surprise result. To be honest, considering the meagre handful of victories they have secured this season, any occasion on which the Latics pick up three points is noteworthy.

However, the way Liverpool have been this season, you can hardly call the defeat at Anfield a true shock. You can't even say Wigan were lucky. They played the better football and got what they deserved.

Kenny Dalglish has been given a lot of money to spend, but his team contains the same fundamental problems that it did when he returned for his second spell in the dugout last year.

The Reds always look capable of raising themselves for the big games, but remain prone to dropping silly points against teams they should be beating, especially at home.

Anfield has only seen five home wins in the league this season, and Liverpool have picked up just eight points from their last 10 games. It doesn't matter who your manager is, you are entitled to ask questions of the man in charge if such a run occurs.

It is difficult to argue that Liverpool have progressed a great deal since Dalglish took over in January of last year when they are currently 13 points off the last Champions League place with eight games remaining. If results don't go their way this weekend they will be in the bottom half of the table. In April. Imagine the criticism Dalglish's predecessor, Roy Hodgson, would be in for if it was him presiding over this situation.

Dalglish's summer signings have had almost a full season together, but they are still not producing the goods with anything like enough regularity. Stewart Downing has given hope to some in his career that he will one day take his game up a level, but in the year in which he will turn 28, you have to wonder if he has gotten any better in the last few years or will ever reach the very top of the game.

Jordan Henderson still has youth on his side, but he has a long way to go to look like justifying his price tag.

As for Andy Carroll, he does not look like he will ever fit in at Liverpool. He is just not the kind of player who slots into a team that plays the ball to feet, nor can he be relied upon to provide game-changing moments.

This trio act as pretty conclusive proof that English players are vastly overpriced.

I find it hard to believe that this same group of players can develop much further as a team next season. They simply do not have the collective quality to keep pace with the top clubs.

Will Liverpool's owners trust Dalglish and sporting director Damien Comolli to spend again in the summer and manage that overhaul? Of all the players to have been bought by Liverpool since Dalglish took over, only Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique can be reasonably described as successful signings, and Dalglish had little or nothing to do with landing the former — those wheels were in motion before he arrived.

Some would argue that where Liverpool finish in the league this season is irrelevant because they have already secured European football by virtue of winning the Carling Cup. However, I am not so sure that even a trophy — or two if they also win the FA Cup — would paper over the cracks of ending the season in the bottom half.

Dalglish will always be known as King Kenny on Merseyside for his brilliance at Anfield as a player and in his first stint as manager, but for anyone who is not guided by loyalty to the club, the Scotsman has had his brilliant reputation diminished since taking the job for a second time.

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