Why It’s Time to Blame Liverpool Manager Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish, drawn by Ethan Armstrong

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.

32 thoughts on “Why It’s Time to Blame Liverpool Manager Kenny Dalglish”

  1. “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 player.”

    Uhhhh, try again. It probably has more to do with the fact that he is from one of the Home Nations and Wenger and Villas-Boas are not. British press is never as harsh on one of their “own.”

  2. Slow news day is it?

    “He has not drawn the same harsh criticism from the British press as Arsene Wenger and Andre Villa-Boas.”

    The reason for this is because Liverpool are in a better position than when he took over. Overall, he has improved the club. If the club was worse off than when he joined, I’m sure he’d receive plenty of negative attention.

    Both Chelsea and Arsenal are expected to be consistently challenging for the title, hence the bad vibes when they’re as far off the pace as they currently are.

    1. And look at Liverpool’s record… just 4 losses. Their problem has been scoring, not dominance. Liverpool on a number of occasions this season, outplayed and dominated their opponent… but only put one goal in the net, which kept the game open and their opponent scored to steal a point. They’ll out shoot a team 3 to 1, 4 to 1, and still tie.

      And going back to 9/24, they’ve lost only twice. The Reds aren’t playing poorly, they just aren’t scoring.

      1. Hi Yespage, that is what we call poor play. This is football mate if you arent scoring definetely you are playing poorly. This is not skating or racing is football which is abbout scoring.

        1. Well I’d be mistaken, because I thought poor play meant losing more games than you are winning and being at the base of the table.

          I’ll keep this in mind when pondering about how poorly a team is actually playing if they’ve only lost 2 league games in the last three months. Thanks.

  3. Still to early to judge, mainly for the reason that the best player or at least second best player hasn’t been on the pitch for the last 9 months. Until Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll are on the pitch together for at last 3 games running it’s hard to tell. Think about what would have happened to Chelsea without Lamps on the pitch for the last 8 months. Or even City without Silva.

    I agree with the English player market is overblown but it is for every team.

    You do make a very good point in the building the team around Carroll. You can see when Carroll plays that the team plays much different. The pass and move is gone and the route one starts. This is fine if Liverpool played with 2 targets but he is very isolated up top. Many times in the City and New Castle games, Carroll was in the box fighting 2 or 3 defenders to win the ball in the box and no other Liverpool player was even in the box. This will never work. Liverpool must have a 2nd striker or an attacking mid with the pace to get back and cover.

    This raises the real issue with Liverpool. Pace in the middle of the park. Adam and Spearing are far to slow to attack and cover. Spearing is the defending mid with Lucas gone for the season and the attacking role falls to Adam. This is a real concern. VS City their whole plan was to play on the brake and just outrun the Liverpool mid’s. The first goal and the pk award was directly due to this.

    Let’s look at the options at outside mid’s. Outside Bells and Downing, pace is an issue too. Maxi, Kuyt are both slow and with Bell’s knees limiting him that makes Downing a must start. A lot of the time he seems to find himself isolated against two defenders has he has outran the mid’s. (not to say i’m a fan of Downing. He has done little with all the time he has had.) but it’s very telling in my option that he seems to complete more passes to Enrique than anyone else while in the attack.

    Gerrard coming back should help this. Those storming runs from mid field are missed as is the pace and drive to bust a gut to get back and cover.

  4. I read a lot of stories like these, and they always confuse me. As much as any game, soccer can take a long time for new pieces to gel together. Players coming in from different playing styles and trying to figure each other out, I think it’s often that it takes a while longer than 6 months for this to happen. There are countless examples of this. Look at Skrtel and Agger. They have both been with the team for a few years now, and have played many games together, but only this year have formed the formidable back line that they are today. Neither player magically got better, they just stayed fit and learned to play together, and liverpools defensive record went from awful to outstanding. An even better example is the Miami Heat in the NBA. They have arguably 3 of the best 15 players in the league, and yet they struggled for a long time to learn how to play together. It took almost the whole season for them to figure it out. And I think it’s even harder in soccer to have the whole team gel. Even Barcelona has off games, and they have world class players who have been playing together for 4 or 5 years! My point is that we should be giving teams more time, especially with so many new faces, to get things figured out.

    And as far as transfer fees go, I think we can all agree that teams rarely pay what a player is actually worth. More often than not, we say that a player underperforms or out performs his fee. If Suarez and Carroll’s fees had switched, we might be concerned at how few goals Suarez has for 35 mil, and not quite as worried about Carroll at 21 mil. If downing and Enrique or adam were switched, we’d be less enthused with either one of those players, and we wouldn’t have any complaints about downing, because he was only 8 mil anyway.

    I’m not saying that none of the buys were bad, but I am saying that our criticism shouldn’t be all about “you cost this much therefore you should right away be contributing accordingly.”

  5. I totally agree that Daglish has not been criticized for his expensive and failed buys. If Rafa Benitez had done the same thing you can imagine the outcry. Definitely a double standard on the part of the British press and commentators who always treat their own with kid gloves but are ruthless in their criticisms of foreigners.

    Torres has been massacred by the press for his poor performance thus far for Chelsea but very few have done the same with Carroll. Both players deserve to be criticised equally for their poor play. There are many other examples of such double standards in the British media.

    Unfortunately this will not change anytime soon.

    1. “Torres has been massacred by the press for his poor performance thus far for Chelsea but very few have done the same with Carroll.”

      This is a joke right? Carroll has been crucified and that price tag is mentioned EVERY time his name is written.

      To be fair Torres went from a Top 5 in the world striker to barely seeing the pitch, while Carroll had 1/2 a season of brilliance. Torres has taken a much bigger fall and that should be noted.

      1. Right on.

        Carroll’s name is rarely mentioned without his price tag. And it’s a shame to hang that around the boy’s neck. Sometimes they act like he set the price himself.

  6. To me, this article is a no-brainer and old news. But, for many Liverpool fans, they are still very much in denial and are continuing to throw out the same excuse that AC is still young and with time will be the dominant goal scorer worth £35 million despite the extreme lack of evidence to prove that point.

    As far as I can tell, I am one of the harsher judges of Kenny’s purchases coming from Liverpool fans. I love Kenny and I think he has done wonders for the club in his 2nd stint as manager. I have confidence in his footballing tactics and the leadership he conveys as a manager. However, that doesn’t mean he is free from blame.

    Purchasing Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing have been huge mistakes. To me, bringing both those players in is a very large part of the reason this team sits on the outside of the top 4 halfway through the season. I said it when they bought him and I’ll say it again (an keep pointing it out): Stewart Downing is, at best, a mediocre footballer. His incompetence on the wing hurts our attack and further one-dimensionalizes our team. Imagine if Kenny had bought a striker that could play with Suarez and a winger who could actually provide service and scoring from the wing. Add in an attacking midfielder (other than injury prone Gerrard) who could actually help to breakdown a defense and I am willing to bet this team would be in 4th at the least.

    How long can my fellow Liverpool fans go on making excuses? I’ll be interested to see what people say if Liverpool finish outside of the top 4 this season.

  7. Some of the points in this are poor for me.

    How can you make such rash judgements on a team and players so soon. Players like carroll and henderson are young. You mention van persie… I suggest looking at players like Van persie and Drogbas goal rate when they were the same age as carroll. the mistake in your argument is that you have compared a player in his prime van persie to a player still learning and developing, carroll.

    The LFC team as a whooe and as indiviuals esp the younger ones cannot be judged properly for another season or two.

    1. My point is that Dalglish should not build around a player who is currently underperforming massively. It doesn’t have anything to do with his age. In the long-run, maybe Carroll will come good, but in the short-run, the tactics should not be molded to fit Carroll’s style of play. He has not earned the right to have so much influence on how Liverpool play. The goal should be to qualify for the top four, which, if realized, would help draw more elite players to Anfield.

  8. @Neville

    Why would you compare Carroll and Torres? Torres is 27, he deserves harsher criticism…. He has many more years experience in the League than Carroll… and when he first came to Liverpool played in a more settled and better team than included a fit Gerrard.

  9. What??? First off, I’m not sure how much Dalglish had a hand in purchasing either player – “blame” Comolli.

    As for Andy Carroll, he is 22 years old, let me repeat that again, in caps: ANDY CARROLL IS 22 YEARS OLD, LEARNING HIS TRADE, HE HAS BEEN FOR THE CLUB JUST FOR A YEAR.

    I never saw Carroll as a typical Liverpool “ball to foot” Rush/Fowler type striker. The 35 million obviously was an eye opener, even in the most optimistic of eyes but considering the Torres sale, it was worth its value as a statement of the Club’s ambition and intent. (Would Liverpool have been able to hold on to the likes of Reina last summer other-wise?)

    As for Carroll’s productivity? Has it been disappointing? Of course. This is where Dalglish/Clarke’s tactics, team selection, and the Stewart Downing question comes in.

    Andy Carroll is a type of forward who NEEDS good service from deep midfield and especially from out wide.

    Downing has been beyond disappointing, his best has never been good enough and at age 28, I doubt it will ever be. Why does he keep getting starts is beyond me. Maxi must be asking his agent what he has do to play.

    It is sacrilege to say but Suarez simply wastes too many chances in front of goal, he should be supporting Liverpool’s 35 million striker by either playing deeper or wider.

    Saying that, Liverpool still need another striker and winger – that can actually cross a ball. And as Gerrard gets fitter – hopefully, he can give Andy the service he needs.

    1. Thank You for finally mentioning Comolli. You are the only one who has. Dalglish has had a say yes and also John Henry who in a few years might just prove to be genius. How many years at Man U did it tak efor Ferguson to win anything? Hired in Nov. 1986, League Title in 1990-1991 season. This is the manager that the world seems to judge the others on. Give Dalgish time and time for his players to grow.

  10. “My point is that Dalglish should not build around a player who is currently underperforming massively. ”

    Totally disagree. The entire team has been underperforming – with or without Carroll in the starting eleven.

    I say give it to the end of January, especially with Suarez out and their midfield finally settling down. Gerrard will get him the ball where he needs it, his confidence will pick up, and Team Liverpool will be just fine.

    Disclaimer: Liverpool supporter.

  11. I remember the same people demanding the head of the manager of the month last season because Liverpool fans don’t make excuses. Quotes from December 2010: ‘Liverpool is a top 2 team and anything else wont cut it.’ ‘Any manager that cant get Liverpool in the top four in a half a season should be fired. Liverpool supporters don’t care what they won before.’
    Now someone points out the obvious, King Kenny has failed, Carroll has failed, Suarez has failed, Downing has failed and the non excuses are its the FA’s fault, the refs hate us, or Manchester can only buy a championship .Its been a few years now and Liverpool still stinks. Of course they will not change their approach. Why change a profitable situation? Along with other American money making losers, Liverpool joins the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, and New York Knicks, as American owned clubs who gage success on how much they get from their supporters not what is done on the pitch. When the people who make you rich are the ones who defend your mediocrity, poor sportmanship, and antiquated strategy, and buy your overpriced tickets and billboard like kits, you have the best business model. No need to change a thing.

    1. What a rambling bunch of nonsense.

      Liverpool has failed? This is a new team. They are currently 3 points off 4th place and in the semi-final of the Carling Cup, with 4 and a half months of football left to play. It is way too early to pronounce this a failure.

    2. The NESV has invested a boatload of money into the squad. They made Liverpool financially viable and bought a lot of players (I’m careful to use the word talent). To say Suarez has failed is a joke. Carroll hasn’t succeeded but he is only 22. L’pool paid a premium for an unfinished player, but he can still develop. People praise Lucas (including myself), but two years ago he was a diving mad man and couldn’t be trusted with the ball.

      Liverpool could be doing better on the Table and scoring more on the pitch, but they have been playing well. Any team with only 4 losses at this point can hardly be said to be “failing”.

  12. I don’t care how much he cost. I don’t care how young he is. Carroll is a very limited player, and as long as Liverpool and the supporters defend his inclusion in the starting XI then we should all expect to be on the outside looking in at the clubs playing European football next year. The pass and move, free-flowing brand of football under Kenny has been a breathe of fresh air, but in the end it is meaningless unless the club gets a forward who can play this style, create chances, and convert them. Carroll sure as hell isn’t able to do any of these things.

    1. I definitely agree with your sentiments, however, I think he adds a new dimension to the attack with his aerial talents. He just hasn’t gotten anything in the way of service from out wide. Downing is an under-performing dullard, though one would think he should be swinging in good crosses. We saw the other day just a little bit of what Gerrard can bring, the problem is he’s been out for so long. Get him in the squad on a regular basis and I’m curious to see if that effects Carroll’s stats.

  13. When Liverpool bought Carroll they expected him to perform right away as he was scoring regularly for Newcastle. Now that he hasn’t performed well they use the excuse that he is young and may still come good. Is that why he was bought for 35 million? And what’s the excuse regarding Downing? Not old enough?

    Daglish decided that he wanted to build a squad around mostly British talent but he ended up buying the wrong players or maybe he just isn’t able to get the best from his players. Either way, he should be criticized for it. The fact that his team hasn’t been clinical in front of goal for most of the season and that they haven’t solved the problem yet is also reason to question his training methods. Downing continues to do the same thing every game he plays, Adam continues to make bad decisions every game, etc. That means the manager isn’t too worried about it otherwise he would bench them.

    Daglish has done some good things since he came back to manage Liverpool. Unfortunately I think he isn’t the manager that is going to take Liverpool into the future. It was his idea (with Commoli’s collaboration) to buy Carroll and also buy Downing to provide crosses for the big man. A big target man is a tactic of the past or at best it will get you limited success. There isn’t a top team anywhere that still uses such tactics. Keeping the ball on the ground and passing and moving is the way all top teams play. When Carroll isn’t in the lineup Liverpool actually play better because they resist the tempatation to hoof the ball forward (unless of course when Carragher plays).

    1. “When Liverpool bought Carroll they expected him to perform right away as he was scoring regularly for Newcastle.”

      No. When Liverpool bought Carroll he was injured, and facing months on the sideline (he didn’t debut until mid-March). Kenny was always very clear and stated repeatedly that Suarez was bought for now, and Carroll was for the future. They have always seen him as an investment. And if Suarez was scoring like he did at Ajax, fans would be more patient with him as well.

      “When Carroll isn’t in the lineup Liverpool actually play better”

      This is debatable. Liverpool have a difficulty scoring with or without Carroll. The pieces just aren’t jelling together yet, but Carroll has shown potential. The Carroll from the first half of last season didn’t just disappear, but he did change to a different team, one that just isn’t currently set up to service him like Newcastle was. For the January window, I’d like to see a quality replacement for Downing. That, along with Gerrard’s return, and a good run of games, should see a much improved Carroll in the second half of the season. I’m not ready to write him off yet.

  14. Yet another writer that doesn’t seem to take into account player’s wages and only looks at the transfer fee…

    1. please dont tell me you are using the “net spending” as an excuse. Anybody who pays 35 million pound for a footballer as limited as Carroll needs to be lambasted for it. The boy has no technical ability, The majority of teams in PL got strikers better than Carroll. Some of the top teams 3rd or 4th choice strikers are better than carroll.

  15. Carroll is only 22 folks. Granted he was not worth the 35 mil spent on him and probably never will it’s still too early to write him off. Yeah he’s been disappointing but so has the service to him. There are multiple examples of strikers who come good later on in their years with experience under their belt. Bye is far too young to write off.

    The only disappointment so far has been Downing. He was brought in to add some cutting edge in the attacking 3rd and provide service to Carroll and he’s done neither. He’s in the prime of his career with vast club and international experience. To me his problem is simple, no confidence. He has the physical attributes of a world beater, pace to burn, good at short passing and a decent crosser to add. What separates the good players from decent players is confidence, swagger, arrogance….and unfortunately he just doesn’t have that belief in him. You can tell in his play. He plays really well in the build up but then as soon as he gets possession in the final 3rd he just doesnt have the balls to make anything happen. Either he hangs on to the ball too long for a safe option or he just ends up passing it backwards. This is why he’s been an average player all his career and unfortunately I can’t see that changing.

    As for Liverpool, they have played free flowing attacking football all season. Apart from the game at spurs and city they have controlled matches, dominated possession and have had numerous chances. What’s let them down is their play in the final 3rd, luck (lack thereof), and top drawer goalkeeping. Mainly their problem has been a lack if cutting edge in the final 3rd. You also have to realize where the club was a little over a year ago, in the relegation zone, broke with heavy debt and a squad full if garbage. For a team that started rebuilding last year they are progressing very well. They are just missing a couple of attacking players that can make the difference on the score line. They still have a long way to go but the way they have improved in such a short space of time both on and odd the field is a testament to the good work of the new owners, Kenny and Clarke.

    Up until the City game they had the best defense in the league and had created the most chances in the entire league. As mentioned what’s let them down is the cutting edge in the opponents penalty area. If you take a look at the conversion rate of the entire league, they rank bottom. They are still a work in progress and if they can make the right signings either in window or in the summer then they will surprise a lot of people. Just watch their games on a regular basis and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    1. not to mention they’ve also hit the woodwork more than any other team in the league, I believe it’s 17 times.

      They just need to start being more clinical and start converting all the chances they’ve created and they could easily make the top 4.

      You just have to watch the games they’ve drawn and you’ll be saying how the hell did they not win that! This includes games against UTD and City at home where they dominated and created more chances but still ended up drawing.

  16. With Arsenal in shambles at the start of the season, Liverpool had golden chance of taking there place.. they lost it.. Buying English players for shi.t load of money is not the answer..

  17. Dalglish has very little say when it comes to transfer matters. Comolli will be there long after Kenny is gone. JWH looks at the manger as a disposable piece and he ceratinly didn’t spend $40 mil on Carroll because KD asked him to. Dalglish served the purpose of soothing the Scousers at the beginning of JWH’s tenure.

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