Is Kenny Losing it? Transfer Flops, Character Slurs, Defending the Indefensible

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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Comment by WorldClass on January 24, 2012 at 9:41

Skin... Cabaye, Arfa and Marveux where all coming to Villa last summer before Houllier was off'ed and Big Eck came in.... People where looking at them from all over, However Kenny went down the route of buying Premier League "Proven" players.... Adam... One season in the Prem was the go to man for Blackpool... medium fish in a small pond to a SeaSnail in the Ocean... Downing has never ever been a £20m top performing Prem Player and Carroll who was confident and new to the league again even for £15m people would be saying you paid to much at the time - but £35m.

Any one else other than Kenny charge and you scousers would be outside Anfield with pitch fork in hand bemoaning the fact that the manager is the only thing stopping Gerrard winning the league... ect ect... 

And now with the "It's not my tactics it all the player fault" approach he seems to be taking to... He picks Carroll and then doesn't pick the one lad who should be in the team if Carroll is pick Downing.... explain that one? Kenny's much lauded tactical genius is only showing how outdated he is... 3 CB's at home? WTF? Pass and move? thats not the problem, its the starting positions he's got the players, the team is too narrow, thus Adam is not able to stretch play... think about his est moments in open play for Blackpool... raking searching passes to the wing, Blackpool played very wide and very high, usig Adams limited talents... Dalglish? No the exact opposite, Downing is starting 10 yards in from the line... stunting what he is good at, Adam has no room or no target to use his talent for putting the ball in the "t".... Carroll is having the ball pumped down his throat with Suarez being a excellent play, but also one that doesn't seem to understand how to play with a partner. How many time have Suarez and Carroll actaully exchanged passes? Carroll wins header, flicks it to suarez, turns in to space and Suarez has got his head down trying to beat 6 men... which he does but by then he's at the corner flag...

My Opinion you best set up would be...

Kelly Carragher Agger Enrique

Adam Gerrard

Downing           Suarez        Hendersen 


But it's important that Downing and Hendersen get chalk on their boots and give Carroll balls to attack in the box. However that not going to happen the way Kenny see's football.... He's not wasted the money, I feel he is using his squad poorly trying to make squad pegs fit in to a round peg system... 

Comment by Team of Skinheads on January 17, 2012 at 23:19

Just to add to the transfer part, I had a look at Newcastle's last few transfer windows, it makes our signings of Carroll and Downing look even worse. They seem to take themselves out of the Premier League transfer merry-go-round and look at players that others wouldn't even consider and seem to find value for money in all of their signings. This is the idea of 'Moneyball' that I had when FSG took over.


Tiote - £3m

Ben Arfa - £2.2m

Perch - £1m

Campbell, Gosling & Kuqi - frees

Santon - £5m

Cabaye - £4.4m

Obertan - £3m

Elliot - £100k

Marveaux & Ba - frees

Cisse - £10m


Obviously if we had made a bid for someone like Cabaye then Lille would have held out for a little more money but he's a better footballer than Adam and probably wouldn't have cost much more than £7m. No-one else seemed interested in a 25 year old who had received 4 caps for France in the previous season which seems very strange considering Stoke paid £8m for Wilson Palacios and Sunderland spent £6m on Craig Gardner.

Ba and Tiote have been even better signings and would have improved our squad hugely. Ben Arfa and Santon seem like no-brainers because even if they fail they are still highly regarded in their own country and Newcastle will probably make their money back. If they succeed then they have huge potential.

Obertan and Perch have been pretty poor but everyone makes mistakes.

I'd love to see us adapting a similar approach in the summer and rethink our policy that seems too focused on Premier League

Comment by Team of Skinheads on January 17, 2012 at 20:38

I know it's a big part of your argument but I really, really don't want to start talking about the Suarez stuff again so forgive me if I just ignore half of your post  


Downing looks like a poor signing to me. I expected a player of his age and experience to have a better football brain but he's so predictable in his play. He's faster than players like Bellamy and Johnson, for example, but these two use their pace far more effectively in wide positions because they've got composure and some intelligence. He's 27 so I can't see him getting much better but I hope I'm wrong. I think he's helped to disprove the myth that experienced Premier League players can settle in to a side quicker than foreign imports. It doesn't bear thinking about the standard of foreign player we could have signed for £20m instead.


Carroll is a very good prospect and has shown a few glimpses of real quality. The price tag is clearly a bit mad but the owners were willing to pay it to show their intentions once Torres left. It's easy to say with hindsight after how good Suarez turned out but it would have been better to wait 'til summer and buy a more polished target man like Gomez or Llorente. He'll get better, no doubt about it but he'll probably never be a £35m player.


Henderson's been one of my favourite players this season. I haven't got any worries about him at all. He'll be a very good player.


Enrique was one of the best signings of the summer. Adam looks like he'll be a good squad player which is okay for £7m. Bellamy has done very well and was free so no complaints there. Suarez was obviously a great signing, we could probably double our money if he wanted to leave.


Our tactics have been fine for most of the season. It's clear that our problems have came when trying to break teams down at home. The draws against Stoke, Norwich and Swansea can be put down to tactics for various reasons. We probably didn't give Swansea and Norwich enough respect and allowed them too much possesion in midfield. I haven't seen the Stoke game but it sounds like we gave them too much respect with our team selection and formation. It sounded like we were playing for a 1-0 win which is disappointing. I think the other draws were a bit unlucky and more down to the players, and their finishing ability, than our own tactics.


Away from home our tactics have been superb. The two victories at Stamford Bridge reminded me of some of our best away wins under Rafa with how we completely sussed them out tactically. The City game in the cup might not have been pretty to watch but we were the first team to keep a clean sheet there for 14 months and we got a deserved victory.


Should we have kept Rafa? Of course we should have, nobody in their right mind would question that. Mark Lawrenson and Stan Collymore didn't like him much either though and their opinions are always very important to us Liverpool supporters.


I can see what you mean with your question about Hughes but surely it's logical that any fans would favour a club legend who has won 4 league titles as a manager as opposed to an ex-Man Utd player who has won nothing. Why wouldn't we cut Kenny more slack than Hughes, after all we've all seen what they're both capable of as managers.


By the way WC, where did you get this article? Some parts seem to be written by you and some by a Liverpool supporter.

Comment by Joey on January 16, 2012 at 18:45

Unfortunately haven't seen anything really from Saturday (lack of highlights say's it all really) but have heard / red that, that was a tactical boo boo but can say that is one of the first times I have heard that as the case and also one of the first games we have created very little.

On players I said myself Downing need's more end product for a £15mill + player. Though again he has had the most 'key passes' (i.e, not assits as missed) in the league or up there at least... leading the question too needing a goal scorer more than the fact anything is fundamently wrong with the side / set up.

Henderson will be a cracking player and is a good one now, his vision and reading of the game is very good and he will grow next to Gerrard. Though again a criticism would be maybe banging in a few more shots / goals.

On Johnson I said myself couldn't really have moaned if a red card, so I think your arguing with yourself a little there. Though it is tough when you keep hearing 'what if Lescott moved?' is that not the case for 90% of challenges it is a contact sport so any last second change could result in injury and we have seen one footed tackles break legs. Johnson was daft going in that aggressively but it wasn't malicious and did take 100% of the ball so it's a tough one. It depends how the ref's define it really as you can see red's for 'intent' yet that was just ball. If the rule stated 2 feet = red then fair enough. That is what need's setting out clearly. Yes it does look worse on replay due to ferocity of the challenge but a lot more have been more direct on a player this season and got a lot less attention.  

Comment by WorldClass on January 16, 2012 at 9:26


More evidence for the prosecution after this weekends "decision"...

Herc's theory that Kenny died years ago and has been replaced by a homeless tramp in a Liverpool coat is now looking more and more likely...

Comment by WorldClass on January 13, 2012 at 8:29

I didn't call a terrible singing.... I suggested his fee was too high and I suggested the Kenny bought Carroll to do a tradition big man job and gives him zero chance of doing it with the way he sets up a Hodgsoneque team..

Bellamy... Great an injury prone player who is coming to the end of his career.

Suarez... Terrific players, questionable person.

Enrique... Good defender.

It's not selective, forgive me for looking at Kenny largest expenditures Henderson, Carroll and Downing... Henderson not even considered the best youth at Sunderland £20m, Carroll a decent prospect but £35m... are you telling me that even with desperation you couldn't have got a striker for far less with a similar ability/potential level. Downing a lad that is good at pretty much one or two things... and both depend on him receiving the ball out wide one on one with a full back... £20m... 

Johnson lunged in with two feet, nowhere did i suggest Johnson was trying to do anything but win the ball... like most Liverpool fans you are missing the point with blind faith... Was wasn;t just "rash" it was against the gentlemanly conduct of the game. Tell me what would have happened to Lescott's leg had he decided the ball was there to be got? SNAP... irrespective of if he got the ball, went for it away from the body of Lescott or someone put ginger up his backside, there is a) no need b) no place for it c)shows and amazing lack of professional courtesy to his fellow players... The fact the FA can't look at the tackle again is pathetic.

I don't want the game sanitised but I also don't want players thinking they can take other peoples careers and put them on the line by doing stupid, irresponsible tackles like that. I am talking from experience after having my knee cap replaced to it correct position after an idiot did a very similar thing to me when I was 18... the only thing was I actually went for the ball... The lad wasn't trying to hurt me, his eyes where on the ball, he was a nice bloke and came to see me in hospital such was his guilt but at the time. But does that make up for it? The fact of the matter is if you torpedo your self in the direction of a player you are off the floor and have no control over what opposing player may do and have no ability to stop your self... It was a red, and it was a red that deserved extra matches added. As was Kompany's... their is not place in the game of tackles like that, the is no need to do it... 

Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 16:53
Tactics only baffling when you put Carroll into the mix which your also calling a terrible signing. Can you really have both sides?

Take him out others done well overall... What about Bellamy, Suarez, Enrique? The word selective comes to mind.

Johnson went for the ball away from the player and won it BUT if he had been shown a red couldn't have many complaints as did go in rashly and didn't need too.
Comment by WorldClass on January 12, 2012 at 16:30

IF IF IF... small word big meaning... Brake it down simply... Tactics = Baffling. Transfer = Terrible. Racism = Indefensible.

Where do you stand on the Glen Johnson Red card that should have been? The two footed lunge that had Lescott actually gone for the ball would have broke his leg? I suppose you will say he got the ball and miss the whole point of the argument. 

Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 14:12
thecityisred your basing your presumption of 'failure' that Liverpool will finish 6th. Could as easily finish 4th which would be considered a success. Hey if we ended this season like we did last it would be a given for CL football. Hence why I said you can't judge until the seasons end.

P.s. I think anyone would agree Newcastle's points / position is full testament to them and not critical of anyone else... Especially bot above them.
Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 14:08
A view that does have factual backings though ;)!

I won't deny the side isn't built to Carroll's strengths and that isn't helpful. However taking £ out of it for a minute Suarez is our lead striker and you can safely say side around him works pretty well.

Not sure bar Carroll (who has still had chances created) the tactics have been wrong? The games Liverpool have been outplayed can easily be counted on both hands and as I say chances missed is our major weakness that needs addressing.

You can't compare to Old Trafford as they are a title winning side. We unfortunately are not... We were still being called a one mam team by some the other week!

Does Dalglish get a bit more leeway? Yes without a doubt. Though part of that is due to playing a good style of football! A reason offered to support Wenger despite lack of recent silverwear.

Ask yourself the other side though... If it wasn't Dalglish steping in to get the club back on track, would you be so blindly critical?


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