Football

Suarez replacement solved at Liverpool

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Bring Kuyt back in from the cold (©GettyImages)
Bring Kuyt back in from the cold (©GettyImages).

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has a problem, and the solution is sitting in his dressing room.

 

The Reds’ scoring record has been rightly criticised over the past two months, as it is pretty sub-standard for a team who are supposed to be challenging for a top four finish.

 

The record was then coupled with their best player and forward being handed an eight-match ban from the FA - this issue has caused much controversy, but the fact remains that Liverpool are facing a significant amount of time without him.

 

Another problem Dalglish has had to face is the apparent flop of £35million record signing Andy Carroll.

 

The former Newcastle forward has not really got going since his switch to Merseyside and has struggled to get games, never mind score the goals needed to maintain the challenge for a Champions League place.

 

Considering this, there has been much speculation over which striker the Scot is likely to bring in during January to remedy the problem - there appears to be a general assumption that a new recruit is needed.

 

Dalglish has no need to do this; he has the answer to his problems staring him in the face.

Well, maybe not right in the face, but the answer is definitely in his vicinity.

 

That answer is Dirk Kuyt and Dalglish needs to begin using him in the middle if he wants to increase his side’s number of goals.

 

For too long has Kuyt been stranded out on the right hand side, working his socks off but not getting much luck in the scoring charts.

 

The Holland international started his career as a centre forward with Utrecht and really broke through at Feyenoord, where his scoring record is exceptional.

 

The 31-year-old has spent most of his Liverpool career stationed out on the right of midfield or a front three and was never really given a proper chance to lead the line.

 

Despite this, Kuyt has always chipped in with goals in his career with Liverpool – he has finished every full season in double figures.

 

He is no Luis Suarez but he can bring certain attributes to the central striker role that could boost Liverpool’s goal record.

 

First and foremost, Dirk Kuyt works tirelessly and any defender will have a hard time trying to shrug him off. His touch is good and his link play can be slick when it needs to be.

 

Suarez does get into good positions and his movement is very clever, but he is wasteful in front of goal and his final ball often lets down some highly skilful and creative build-up play.

 

Kuyt would not be able to carve out the same kind of chances as Suarez but he would pose more of a physical problem for defenders, while holding the ball up more effectively than Carroll is capable of.

 

Part of Liverpool's current problem is that Suarez’s knack for beating defenders and making deep runs into opposition territory often causes him to become isolated.

 

Kuyt would be more inclined to bring others into the play and this would aid a more rounded style of play, with more people in the box to convert effective crossing from the flanks.

 

The Dutchman is also a far superior header of the ball and Stewart Downing’s, so far, fruitless attempts at assisting a goal may well find more success with a player more inclined to attack the aerial ball.

 

Downing has the ability put in some exceptional crosses, but this skill is not utilised quite so well when he only has Suarez to aim for.

 

Kuyt is a more clinical finisher than most of the other strikers at Liverpool, though he does not possess the dribbling ability to create chances for himself.

 

There is no suggestion that the 31-year-old should occupy the position permanently – Suarez’s obvious brilliance overrules certain tactical advantages that may be gained by playing the Dutchman.

It does feel, however, that those at Anfield have forgotten Kuyt's ability to play in a lone role and that it may prove an affective, though sparingly used while Suarez is available, alternative.


So, rather than paying for an expensive striker from somewhere around Europe, Liverpool could use the Uruguayan’s ban to try and find a different way of attacking the opposition.

 

Problems of this ilk often provoke rash responses, like calling for the purchasing of a new player, as if that will immediately fix things, but this is rarely the case.

 

Rearranging what you already have is a way to experiment new systems and styles of play, while maintaining some kind of squad continuity – new arrivals can often take time to gel.

 

So Anfield bosses should put their chequebooks away – it’s time to put Dirk Kuyt back where he belongs.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Kenny Dalglish
Dirk Kuyt
Luis Suarez
Liverpool
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