Football

Dalglish needs time to turn Liverpool tide

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Dalglish must improve Liverpool's league form. (©GettyImages)
Dalglish must improve Liverpool's league form. (©GettyImages).

When it comes to expectation, there are few clubs that can rival Liverpool. Despite already delivering the Carling Cup trophy this season, and steering the Reds to an FA Cup semi-final, Kenny Dalglish finds himself under increasing pressure at Anfield.

Having lost four of their last five Premier League matches, with just two victories recorded in 2012 and a total of eight draws at home this season, Liverpool find themselves in a lowly seventh place in the table, 13 points adrift of Champions League qualification.

There's no denying that the club's league form has slumped under Dalglish, in spite of the fact he has invested nearly £115million in his playing staff in the space of just over 12 months.

Liverpool may have already secured entry into Europe's second-tier competition - the Europa League - next season, but it's the domestic title that the club's fans remain obsessed with. Even in years gone by when former manager Rafael Benitez guided the Reds to Champions League glory, the Premier League crown was still perceived as the number one priority.

The closest the Spaniard came to realising that dream was a second-place finish in 2008-09, after winning 10 of their last 11 games, Liverpool finished four points behind champions Manchester United.

Prior to that, the closest the club came to winning their first league title since 1990 was when Gerard Houllier - who was in charge at Anfield between 1998 and 2004 - oversaw Liverpool's best Premier League campaign, finishing in second spot in 2001-02.

The previous season, the Frenchman guided the Reds to a memorable cup treble - winning the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup - and after finishing third in the league, went on to win both the FA Community Shield against Manchester United and the UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich.

But, despite Houllier's success on Merseyside, failure to bring home the Premier League title resulted in the sack - the same fate that was afforded to Benitez six years later.

With that in mind, it would be a fair assumption to make that regardless of how triumphant Dalglish is in Liverpool's cup conquests this year, continued negligence in domestic competition could ultimately cost him his job as well.

"There is too much expectation at Liverpool," Houllier told the Daily Mail earlier this week. "They expect you to win the Champions League every year. That won't happen.

"The obsession is the league. Rafa Benitez finished second and I finished second once, but for all the cups we won, they wanted us to win the league.

"They won the League Cup, the same way we did in 2001. It's a good sign for the future. I think he's heading in the same direction, just give him some time.

"In football, you can go from the attic to the basement very quickly, so one day he is the hero and the next day he is the zero. You have to be careful.

"Liverpool need another year to kick in. They have had a lot of recruitment done and a lot of problems. Kenny isn't alone - he has a whole staff with him and they trust him, so give him some time."

After winning their first trophy since 2006 last month, Dalglish is adamant that Liverpool are making progress under his stewardship, not just in terms of the first-team, but throughout all levels of the football club.

"Maybe at times it isn't always apparent, but on the pitch the club is moving forward, in and around Melwood it's moved forward, off the pitch it's moved forward, the Academy has moved forward," he told Liverpoolfc.tv. "We just need to get our league results in better order and it'll be a happier story.

"We want to compete equally in every competition we're in. We've done tremendously well in the cups and we've got to recreate it in the league. It's not been that way this season. There have been a lot of fantastic performances but we've not got the results."

In reaction to Houllier's assessment that winning the Premier League is an 'obsession' for a club like Liverpool, Dalglish added: "I don't know how you define the word 'obsession'.

"It would be fantastic for Liverpool Football Club to win the league. We've won plenty in the past. It's been a while since the last one, and it's an ambition for everyone who supports Liverpool to see them win the league title.

"But, at the end of the day, there are a lot of other games to play other than league matches, and we want to compete in every game we play in. I'm not obsessed with anything other than the next game."

A diplomatic evaluation from the Liverpool boss. He'll be hoping Anfield's owners operate with the same delicacy in their assessment of his achievements this summer.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Kenny Dalglish
Liverpool
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