While the Luis Suarez racism case has enveloped the club for the past couple of months, intense scrutiny of performances on pitch and within the club have become somewhat slacker.
Summer signing Stewart Downing who arrived from Aston Villa for the staggering amount of £20m, appears to be a player going through a serious crisis of confidence. The disparity between his performances on the pitch and his value off it are so great at the moment that it beggars belief that he ever cost that much in the first place. Is he Dalglish’s worst signing since returning back to the club?
The gigantic white elephant in the room is, of course, Andy Carroll. The £35m frontman does himself no favours, though. Arriving at the club as the ‘big man’ to Luis Suarez’s ‘little man’, the two have played very few games together. Carroll has either been in the process of returning to full fitness or has been out injured. It has been a never-ending cycle of disappointment.
The galling thing about Carroll is the misconception that Liverpool are not playing to his strengths. The club’s summer purchases of the likes of Downing, Henderson and Enrique were all geared towards getting the best out of Carroll and getting balls into the box. Liverpool, out of all the teams plying their trade in the top flight this term have had the most crosses.
Carroll has varied between lazy and disinterested. His work-rate is at times non-existent and he simply doesn’t look as strong as the bulldozing number nine of yesteryear at Newcastle. His hold up play resembles a man trying to control a balloon and more often than not, balls played up to him come straight back.
He’s not difficult to defend against for ninety per cent of the time, yet on that rare occasion when he does threaten, he can look a real handful. Carroll has been abysmal so far, let’s make no bones about it, but his one saving grace is that there is at least something to work with there. He has the potential to be a great number nine in the future, but only if he starts to believe in that himself and focus less on the price tag hanging around his neck and more on improving his performances on the pitch.
This brings us to Stewart Downing; a player whose reputation has always proved greater than the sum of his parts. Downing should be a byword for underperformance. The creeping suspicion is that he has always struggled when there has been any pressure placed upon him. Poor England performances against the likes of Andorra and Macedonia have become a hallmark of his international career.
Downing has never been blessed with pace (I disagree with this as a Villan who watched Downing at his best) and his strength is supposed to lay in his delivery from wide areas. In 20 Premier League games this season, Downing is without an assist. That is not to say, of course, that he has been complete and utter pony for the entire time, but more often than not his delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Frequently unable to beat the first man, too slow to take on a full back and with a worrying propensity to come in off the flank and narrow a midfield devoid of width in the first place even further – Downing has been a huge disappointment.
A lot of the disappointment originates due to the nature of his hefty price tag. Downing always performs well when he’s a big fish in a small pond. His final season at Villa, in a side little was expected of, Downing at times outshone Ashley Young – a player who himself started brightly at Man Utd but has since gone off the boil and faded terribly (because he's injured you bitter scouser)
The relative size of the Downing fee appears to derive from two consequences. Firstly, the fact that Villa themselves appeared to have overpaid for him back in 2009 when he signed for £12m, which meant that even a modicum of success at Villa Park was bound to increase upon an already sizeable valuation due to the nature of his nationality, with English talent still acquiring a baffling premium.
Much has been said about the Suarez situation, but what not can't be argued is the fact the he use the word. There is no place for it and the FA rightly came down on him hard. Dalglish may be angry his best player is going to miss a few matches, but surely no one can justify the anger toward the FA, or did the FA make Suarez say it? In my opinion Suarez was a lucky boy to get away with only 8 games... Ferdinand got 9 month for missing a drugs test, in my and many other people minds what Suarez did was far, far worse.
The executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe says Liverpool risk further the damage to their global reputation if the club maintains its backing of Luis Suarez despite his suspension for racially abusing an opponent.
Piara Powar, who is also a former director of the Kick It Out anti-racism group, believes Liverpool have already sullied their image because of their militant stance in support of a player found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and banned for eight matches.
He said: "Luis Suarez and Liverpool FC have the right to appeal, however we would call on the club to think again about their public campaign to dispute the charges and contest the principles involved in the case. As a club with a good international standing, the vehemence of their campaign is unquestionably causing them reputational harm.''
On Saturday, the FA released a 115-page report from an independent panel into the incident, in which they said Suarez had used the words "negro'' or "negros'' seven times in a two-minute period towards Evra at Anfield.
The finding is potentially embarrassing for Liverpool, who have been unwavering in their support of the 24-year-old Uruguay international, who was also given a £40,000 fine. The Liverpool players wore T-shirts showing their support for Suarez before last month's game against Wigan the day after he received the ban, a gesture which was heavily criticised at the time, while manager Kenny Dalglish tweeted that fans should not let him walk alone.
The FA's case, according to the report, was that Evra asked Suarez why he had kicked him, to which the forward replied: "Because you are black.'' When Evra challenged him to repeat the answer and said he would "punch him'', Suarez said: "I don't speak to blacks.''
According to the report, Evra then told Suarez he was going to hit him, to which the Uruguay international replied in Spanish: "Dale, negro, negro, negro.'' That translates to: "Okay, blackie, blackie, blackie.''
Powar believes racial abuse between players remains an "unspoken taboo'' in the English game, and hopes the Suarez case will prove to be a watershed moment. "The Football Association's published judgment from the Suarez-Evra incident is welcome,'' Powar said.
"It appears the FA have taken their time to initiate a process that was both fair in its implementation of football rules, and in accordance with the principles of British justice. As an international non-governmental organisation we think the investigation and judgment sets the bar for governing bodies globally.
Then the character assassination of Evra, questioning the integrity of the man, when clearly the person who should be getting the sharp side of Kenny's tongue was his own player. An astonishing stance from a man who's teams mates and fellow pro's suffered vile racism from the stands in his playing days, I'd have thought he would of understood this stance by the FA better than most.
It baffles me that Kenny went and fitted out his team with a tradition No.9, players that like chalk on their boots and players that have great delivery, then set up a narrow team meaning the only ball Carroll gets in to attack in the air is generally one with his back to goal 20-30 yards out... His decisions in games too have always made me wonder what he's thinking, Last night for example sending on Enrique for Downing... did he honestly know what he was doing? The team certainly didn't? Where didn't Glen Johnson play last night?
He has useful set of tools at Liverpool but it would seem not the first idea of how to use them best... A Hammer for Screws... Och Ey, What a great idea! This criticism has come across the board from Malcolm McDonald to John Barnes, From Mark Lawrenson (yes I know, i was shocked too) to the great Stan Collymore, ahem. All have all brought up the question of Kenny's tactics and have failed to understand why he's done certain things.... ponderous questions have been posted in forums across the web, yet many Liverpool fans seem to see criticising anything Kenny does as sacrilegious, and blindly follow the man no matter what he does be it immoral stances or baffling substitutions there is a blind faith Kenny knows what he's doing.
It's whimsical to think it, but after all that's gone on I actually can see Dalglish coming out in support of Downing after his recent arrest. It might not go as far as the the club making it's player wear T-Shirts in support of Downing with "It's what they do where he's from" on the back. We'll see how the club deal with it.
Should Liverpool have kept Rafa? At this point if you're honest with your selves Yes is the answer, only the rose tinted glasses of the Dalglish walks on water brigade are surely now the only ones not questioning Kenny and his role as Liverpool manager... Perhaps the Suarez incident has been played perfectly by Kenny to remove focus from his glaring errors...
I ask you one question;
If the manager to replace Hodgson had been Mark Hughes and the exact same line of events happened would he still be in the job?
Kenny's record isn't all that impressive in his second coming, perhaps it's time the rose tinted glasses where removed and everything looked at in the cold light of day.
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