While so much controversy has been swirling around Liverpool off the pitch, very few in the British media have directed criticism at Kenny Dalglish for the events on the pitch. He has signed two extremely disappointing, not to mention expensive, players. Instead of taking advantage of the struggles of Chelsea and Arsenal, Liverpool have dropped points to supposed weaker clubs and are currently on the outside looking in at the Champions League positions.
John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group have allowed Dalglish to spend heavily in the last two transfer windows. While Luis Suarez, Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam, and Craig Bellamy have proven to be fantastic acquisitions, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing have so far performed well below their price. Jordan Henderson has not yet delivered either, but has shown some promise. Sebastian Coates should not yet be judged as he has made very few appearances this season.
While it appears that Dalglish has made only two mistakes in the transfer market, both were extremely high-priced errors. Carroll and Downing cost a combined £53 million, while all the rest of the fees paid for the other new players added up to around £59 million. John Henry may want to be more careful with his cash the next time Dalglish wants to go for an expensive English player.
British players, and English players in particular, are way overvalued in the transfer market. Arsene Wenger learned this lesson years ago, and Alan Pardew has benefited from selling Carroll and buying foreign players. It is noble that Dalglish wants to keep the core of his side English, but not practical.
Young English players are built up in the press because of the immense hype surrounding the national team. The question is always: “Who is the next great hope for England?” In almost every case, the accomplishments and consistency of the player are overlooked. Andy Carroll had only had several months of Premier League success when Liverpool bought him. Another is example is Jack Wilshere. He only really emerged as a star last season, yet he is expected to be the savior for England and has already featured on the cover of the popular FIFA 12 videogame.
If Liverpool are to break into the top four in the coming years, Dalglish will need to break the habit of buying expensive British players. They should scout the lower leagues for young English talent while also developing players through their academy. Liverpool are unable to compete with the spending Manchester City and Chelsea, but there is still good value for money on the continent.
The worst thing King Kenny could do is build a team around Carroll, as many pundits and writers have suggested. The former Newcastle striker is simply not good enough to be the centerpiece of an elite side. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are forwards to mold a squad around, and Carroll is nowhere close to that level.
In addition, Liverpool’s tactics should not be fitted to Andy Carroll’s style of play. It’s all well and good to say that he is young and needs to get his confidence back, but a striker who cannot score will not cut it for a club attempting to qualify for the Champions League in the tightest top four race in years.
Please note that I am not suggesting that Liverpool sack Kenny Dalglish. He has not drawn the same harsh criticism from the British press as Arsene Wenger and Andre Villa-Boas. Possibly this is because Dalglish was a legendary footballer. Regardless, if Dalglish is to advance Liverpool any further, he will need to change his transfer policy and stop trying to make Andy Carroll the focal point of the team.