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.

Transfers;

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.

Racism;

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.

Tactics;

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. 

 

Downing;

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 12, 2012 at 13:09

Joey I have to say you have a very... erm... original veiw. I admire your ability to find a positive slant on most angles of this, but I would suggest had there been a role reversal and this had all happened at OldTrafford you would be feeling very much the same as my self and many other football fans.... I think you have to be honest and ask your self has Dalglish been given unquestioned support that my have just hurt your club, perhaps it's time to stop looking at excuses and start looking at the simple facts.

The talk from Liverpool this summer was about getting back to challenging for the title. Many of your ex Liverpool pundits all agreed, Kenny wouldn't admit it, but he was telling the squad they could win it....  and considering the money Kenny spent on a team I saw described at a Champions League team player Championship football under Hodgson I don't think I have been over critical on his transfer or tactics... are you denying Kenny is playing with two deep sitting midfeilders and asking his "wingers" to tuck in... to accomodate Gerrards "want" to play where he wants... How is that setting up to use Carrrolls strengths when as already explained the tactics actually leave Carroll looking about as stranded as Darren Bent this season... The the racism row there is no justification for his stance... he is simply wrong... 

Comment by thecityisred on January 12, 2012 at 12:33

Points noted and not all disagreed with. However Liverpool are 2 points off Arsenal and 3 off Chelsea in 4th. 

_______________________________

They're also 1 point ahead of Newcastle.

Comment by thecityisred on January 12, 2012 at 12:30

I don't think anyone thought Chelsea would win the league this season, that's the difference. People will have backed City and United, maybe Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool to win the league - only one can do it.

There are four places in the top four, you'd say that two were taken by United & City, that leaves two between Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs. It's conceivable, and indeed likely, that having spent a fortune Liverpool will finish bottom of that mini league. 

That is failure. Fifth or indeed sixth is a failure, there's no getting away from that - whichever way you try to spin it. 

Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 12:21
Sorry also to add as you say Liverpool's season aim was top 4 Chelsea's was to win the league. LFC are currently 3 points off that aim, Chelsea 11. That's why there is more pressure / critiscm (rightly or wrongly).
Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 12:17
Points noted and not all disagreed with. However Liverpool are 2 points off Arsenal and 3 off Chelsea in 4th. That without Gerrard for the vast majority and also having the worse conversion rate in the division (hard to blame the manager and not individuals for that).

Wenger has done great with Arsebal recently but like with Dalglish and Villas-Boas the true reflection of there season is a long way off.
Comment by thecityisred on January 12, 2012 at 12:07

You can't just pick snippets of seasons, you have to look at real form and genuine expectations.

Arsenal absolutely collapsed towards the end of last season. They then sold their best player, Fabregas, and Nasri who has been a great performer for them. Before the start of the season and indeed after a few games, people were talking about whether they'd even finish in the top half. Perhaps it was over the top but the top four, or even five, seemed a long way away.

Contrast that to Liverpool who we were all told had been lifted under Dalglish and their end to the season was highlighted by their fans. Let's not forget there were some Liverpool fans who thought a title challenge was on, top four by the majority of fans and onlookers was expected.

Now some say that fifth would be good, maybe sixth. It wouldn't, it would be failure. Dalglish is given more margin for error than any manager at any club I can remember. It's not just loyalty but a dread at being wrong, fans campaigned so furiously to get him the job he clearly craved that they're desperate to be right.

As it stands I'm not saying he's a failure but to ask questions of his performance is certainly reasonable. 

Few would have thought Arsenal would be above Liverpool, it's embarrassing for Dalglish that they are, and Wenger deserves praise for that. I very much doubt Liverpool will get into the top four, and if they don't how can Dalglish justify himself if teams like Arsenal and/or Chelsea/Spurs do?

He didn't pick up an awful squad by any stretch of the imagination, since then he's spent around £120m and on what? Suarez is a very exciting player but there's a big ban there, largely of their own doing. Carroll was never worth £35m, that isn't his fault, it's Liverpools.

Henderson wasn't even considered the best midfield youth prospect at Sunderland. Downing is never going to worth what Liverpool played for him, he's an average winger.

These may all work out in the end but, make no mistake, if Liverpool fail to get top four this season it's a huge failure. 

Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 11:46
A thing to remember with Chelsea and to a lesser extent Arsenal is that if you judge on where they were this time last season Liverpool have made more progress surely?
Comment by thecityisred on January 12, 2012 at 11:27

Kenny will always get an easier ride from the Liverpool supporters than anyone else. Whilst the phrase you'll never walk alone is laughable in it's selectiveness it does apply to Dalglish.

He isn't doing a horrid job but it's not a great job either. Liverpool fans decided they hated Hodgson whilst they'll forever adore Dalglish so of course the atmosphere will be better. Failure to get in the top four this season is failure.

He's spent a fortune on players and should be getting top four. Arsenal had a shocking start and gave Liverpool a head start, yet by January they've already made that up and overtaken Liverpool. 

The handling of the Suarez case was excruciating and almost every person with a passing interest in this can see that, apart from some Liverpool fans. Dalglish handled it very badly and deserves criticism for that.  It's harmed the reputation of the club and because he went into it all guns blazing, rather than thinking and realising an apology would be best, he's now without his player for 8 games when it would have been less given an apology.

Oh, and Suarez has had to apologise now anyway.

His football performance is getting an easy ride from some quarters. A good handful of journalists had Kenny as their boyhood hero and give him a lot of slack. I've heard Arsenal fans bemused as to why they're considered to be having a poor season and getting criticism when Liverpool get little in comparison. Chelsea are talked about as going through a crisis and the manager is questioned for every little thing, yet they're three points and two places ahead of Liverpool.

It's ironic in that Liverpool fans often imply the press is picking on them, not here they're not are they?

The question regarding Hughes, yes I feel if exactly the same scenario had happened there'd be people saying he wasn't up to the job. That he was out of his depth. However, you must remember Kenny has a record of success so that would be a reason for not saying he's out of his depth.

Comment by Joey on January 12, 2012 at 10:51
Blinkered by the fact in the past 12 months results have improved and the form / style of play has got 100X better also shown with crowds?

Downing has gone well IMO but yes you expect a better 'end product' for £15mill+ though our main issue by far has been missed chances so not sure the 'supply' can take too much blame.

Saying Kebby has lost the plot the day after a semi final win against top of the table probably not ideal timing unfortunately ;D
Comment by WorldClass on January 12, 2012 at 10:03

Not at all Joey, Why? are you one of the blinkered ones? 

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