Pooling Resources; Our regular analysis of the antics at Anfield
SO KENNY Dalglish is in the hot-seat at Anfield but, as the start he’s made has shown, the appointment of the club’s messiah to the top job hasn’t yielded instant results. Anyone who’s watched Liverpool regularly this campaign will tell you that not even the mystical powers of King Kenny are enough on their own to turn this wretched season around. So what does Kenny have to do in order to bring some respectability back to Anfield and ensure that he’s in with a fighting chance of nabbing the job long-term when decisions are made in the summer?
Build up the under-performers:
As far as I can see, there are two sets of players at Anfield; those who deserve to be there (and should remain) and those who don’t. There are many Liverpool players who most supporters would agree should have a future at the club but who have simply failed to perform to their normal level this season. Ask any Liverpool fan who they’d like to get rid of and only the likes of Gerrard, Reina, Carragher (yes, still) and Torres (although more on him later) would be excluded from most potential lists; once you gave the person answering enough time to note all the players. He’d probably need a glass of water halfway through the exercise too.
However, there are others at the club who I feel are good enough to remain but have simply underperformed this season for one reason or another – loss of form, unsuitable tactics and fitness concerns being the main reasons. Fabio Aurelio, Dirk Kuyt, Dan Agger, and Martin Skrtel have all shown far more in red shirts in the past than they have this term and should probably be given the benefit of the doubt that their form will eventually return. Similarly Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Maxi Rodriguez and Raul Meireles have shown enough at previous clubs to suggest they should be up to the required standard. Although Johnson should surely now be given a run on the right-side of midfield given his defensive ineptitude this season.
Add to these groups some promising youngsters like Ngog, Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Kelly, and there’s a strong enough core of players there to move up the table if they could approach anything near their potential. We’re not talking about finishing higher than the likes of Chelsea , United, Arsenal, Spurs or City here, but most other squads in the Premier League could, and probably should, be overtaken.
Get rid of the under-talented:
Despite the above, there is some serious deadwood to be purged in the squad between now and the start of next season. Hodgson signings Poulsen and Konchesky must surely be shown the door whilst the likes of Kyrgiakos, Babel and Jovanovic never look like being up to the Kop’s required standard. There’s plenty of Liverpool players out on loan at the moment like Insua, Degen (Remember him? Thought not) and Aquilani, so finding permanent addresses for this bunch and recouping as much money as possible should be a priority for the powers that be during the summer also. There’s an awful lot of dross in the Liverpool squad and the names above should be the first to go. Lucas Leiva? I haven’t made my mind up about Lucas yet!
Sign some quality
Money isn’t exactly flowing but its not in short supply either and one or two top quality purchases may just happen before the end of the transfer window. Liverpool don’t have a left-back with both the quality and the durability to play consistently in the Premier League (Konchesky and Aurelio both fall down in one of those two areas – you work it out) so that should be a priority for January. Stephen Warnock has been mentioned as a short-term fix but perhaps the net should be cast out a bit wider in the summer. Having Maxi Rodriguez as your first choice left-winger maybe isn’t ideal either so a flying winger would go down very nicely indeed whilst a new striker has been needed since Robbie Keane left two years ago (only two years ago would you believe?). Ashley Young and Luis Suarez would conceivably be the ideal recruits – something tells me we may have to set our sights lower than that though.
Get the best out of Torres:
Torres has only shown flashes of what he’s capable of this season and one of Kenny’s priorities has got to be to get the maximum out of the main man if the Reds are to get back up the table. In fairness, Torres has looked better in the short time King Kenny has been back but goals need to start flowing from El Nino in order to expel the doubts starting to surround him. Some say he’s added too much bulk over the last 18 months and lost that crucial half yard of pace, whereas others have questioned his attitude. He may whine, he may look disinterested and he may hit the deck too easily on the odd occasion, but Liverpool in their current state cannot afford to discard such a class act.
Give youth a chance
They can’t do much worse surely. Liverpools’ recruitment drive at youth level finally looks like it may bear fruit over the next few years. There’s a gaggle of promising youngsters poised to make the breakthrough to the first team, as long as the first team boss has the courage to throw them in. Martin Kelly has already gotten his chance and looks like he should have been there all season. The faith shown in Jonjo Shelvey (picked ahead of Poulsen) shows how highly he’s rated by Dalglish whilst Jay Spearing’s derby start was a major vote of confidence for the scouse Mascherano. The likes of Dani Pacheco, Danny Wilson and Tom Ince must all be feeling a little bit more optimistic about their chances for the remainder of the season given Kenny’s penchant for having faith in the ‘yoof.’
Win the Europa League
For the simple reason that those tickets were bloody expensive and I don’t want to be sitting in the Aviva in May watching Shakhtar Donetsk versus CFR Cluj. Or, even worse, Manchester City.