How Kenny Dalglish may finally have admitted his mistakes

Luis Suarez scores a cracker against Stoke It only took two thirds of the Premier League season but Kenny Dalglish finally seems to have recognized the error of his ways in continuing to play Charlie Adam, opting to drop him for the second match running whilst also showing none of the previous sentiment he had shown to Jordan Henderson, who was also resigned to a place on the bench. I can tolerate a lot of things, but prolonged blind faith in underperforming players is not one of them. As the saying goes, though, “better late than never” and if we’ll be putting out more sides like this then the decisions that have us in seventh place may slowly start to be forgotten. It appears at long last we no longer have to put up with a Charlie Adam free kick hitting the first man. No longer do we have to put up with a woeful shot from distance or a skyed penalty effort, and no longer do we have to put up with the needless fouls he constantly gives away. We’d almost become used to the sight of him raising a hand in apology, as if it was expected rather than a rare occurrence. If seeing Adam on the bench for the second match running was a good feeling, seeing Maxi’s name on the team sheet and Jordan Henderson parked alongside the Scotsman was almost surreal. I had to pinch myself to believe it. It’s an unwritten rule than when Maxi Rodriguez plays, Suarez plays well, and it paid dividends yesterday afternoon. The Uruguayan didn’t have to try and do it all on his own and was always looking for his Argentine compatriot in attack. His goal was a beautiful example of one touch football that just wouldn’t be possible if it had been say, Henderson on the other end of the pass, who would have most likely reacted too slowly, tried an aimless cross or attempted to shoot himself. But alas, we were treated to a South American tiki-taka delight, the kind Liverpool supporters expect to see. It truly was a wondrous bit of football. Almost all of Liverpool’s best attacks came down the left hand side and indeed, it was interesting to see them develop on both sides, the Argentine, Spanish combination on the left, compared to the all English combination on the right. The attacks down the left hand side were clearly more intricate and clever. Heck, even Andy Carroll was getting in on the act with his Spanish speaking teammates. Far too often, though, Downing and Kelly sent the kind of aimless crosses into the box from the right that we’ve seen all season. Indeed, apart from his very well taken goal, Downing had a pretty average match. The link up between him and Gerrard had a touch of fortune about it, but the finish was exquisite and to be honest, in a season that’s seen some of the worst finishing in memory I’m not going to complain too much when the ball goes in the back of the net. But it’s unlikely Dalglish will continue to go with Maxi against QPR, as we again saw him be the first man substituted, even though he had a very good game. Indeed, in the rare moments when he has played he’s almost always been straight back to the bench for the next match. If he does start against QPR, though, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s only taken until the latter half of March, but Dalglish finally picked up a team that left fans with a sense of confidence going into the game, rather than a feeling of dread. The midfield pairing of Gerrard and Spearing had so much more balance to it. Take the moment when Martin Kelly had galloped forward on the right, lost the ball and allowed Stoke to counter attack through the vacant space behind him. Had Charlie Adam started, there’s every likelihood that would have ended up with a cross and probably a goal, but Steven Gerrard had stayed back, sprinted 30 yards across field and cut out the attack before it could get started. In a 4-2-3-1 both central midfielders have to have some sense of defensive duty and Charlie Adam, completely let off the hook in that department at Blackpool, is not capable of playing effectively in a two man midfield. We saw in the last meeting between these two sides how Dalglish tried to combat Stoke’s physical approach with a three man defense, and that it completely failed because the opposition played with just one out and out striker, instead opting to pack the midfield. As a result Liverpool had a redundant man at the back that could have been utilised further forward, and because of this they barely had a shot on goal. That Dalglish went the entire game, using all three substitutions and thus not recognising this tactical error, was a real worry. Thankfully, he started yesterday’s game in a much more suitable 4-2-3-1, meaning Liverpool were able to dominate the midfield and didn’t leave too many men at the back. Towards the end of the game, Liverpool were ahead, and therefore bringing on Coates to form a three man centre back line made sense, as not conceding, rather than controlling possession was Liverpool’s number one priority. In short, whereas Dalglish had gotten it completely wrong last time, he got it nearly spot on in this one. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t just whinge about Dalglish because I dislike him, rather, I believe he’s made some awful decisions this season, which have cost us dearly in the league. But I believe we should all give credit where it’s due and even though it’s come far too late in the season, that Dalglish finally decided it was time to drop Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson is a good start. Whether or not he has the cojones to continue without those two remains to be seen, but it would be thoroughly disappointing if against QPR all of the good work from the last two matches was undone and we reverted to the mediocre players we’ve seen for most of this season. Playing for this club is a privilege, not a right. If players don’t perform, especially for an entire season, they don’t deserve to start every game. Liverpool should reward players that play well. Dalglish should know that better than anyone, and it appears at long last that the mediocrity of some of his signings is beginning to dawn on him. Hopefully, the same generosity that’s been undeservedly afforded to Henderson and Adam will be afforded to Maxi, who based on this performance, still has a lot to offer this club. In a completely unrelated note, I would like to offer my well wishes to Fabrice Muamba. May you have a swift and full recovery.

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  • vruz

    An argie compatriot of an uruguayan? No Sir, not at all.
    No more compatriots than englishmen are to frenchmen anyway, just to project a disgusting image in your equivocated mind.

    By the way, kudos to King Kenny for giving Coates a chance. Did you notice any of the things he did right?
    By the way, Coates is uruguayan too, not argentinian.

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      Well, whatever the history of those two countries Maxi and Luis seem to get on very well, both in football terms and on a personal level. However, I’m not English, nor French, but I can see your point!

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      And please, continue with the use of Sir, it gave me a very pleasant power trip.

      • vruz


  • Pal

    Look, there is no
    need to differentiate between foreign players and english players. If a player does well, then the credit if for him, not because he argentinian.
    Leaving Charlie on the bench was good move by Kenny. He has not been performing well lately.
    But whoever plays or get substituted, we should support them. Kenny will have his own reason to start or substitute the players.

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      I’m by no means trying to say that all English players are bad and all foreigners are more technically gifted. Just look at Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Johnson, Wilshere to name but a few technically gifted Englishmen who don’t cross the ball at every chance. However, it has to be admitted that overall, there has been a tendency for English players to play in a certain way. Whereas, it also must be said, foreigners and particularly those from South American countries have favoured a more technical and intricate style of play than their English counterparts. 

      I wouldn’t be making this point if we had bought players who didn’t play in such a typically British way, and there are British players out there who can, but the players we’ve bought tend to fit into that stereotype, and tend to want to cross the ball at every chance they get.

  • patrickferris

    Kenny plays Adam and Henderson because he doesn’t want to admit he made a mistake in buying them, he should get over himself. Liverpool is the most important thing not his pride. Henderson was a train wreck all year and playing like that he shouldn’t have even made first team in the reserves, but like you said I hope Kenny has learnt something.

  • Bekim Sejdija

    I havent read an article as good as yours for ages mate. You are spot on on everything you’ve said. Continuing to play them just to justify his buys have cost us big time. I’d also play Bellamy when fit in place Downing. The only problem we have now that anytime we criticize when something, s going wrong we r accused of being antiLiverpool and blah blah blah and not being Liverpool supporters.

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      Thank you Bekim. It’s a shame when people are accused like that, because at the end of the day they just want the best for their team, too and they’re just voicing their concerns. In my opinion, it would be worse to sit by and say nothing while someone makes mistake after mistake and gets away with it. 

      • Savs

        So Kenny has been making mistake after mistake and gets away with it? Whereas you and your friend Bekim are so much more knowledgeable and know the ins and outs of the players and the team. There’s a difference between writing a balanced article and expressing an intelligent opinion (see Tomkins), and what you are doing which is jumping on the bandwagon and just negatively criticizing (probably for the sake of attracting attention). It’s small huh?

        • Liverpool Football Blog

          You did not just mention Paul Tomkins and the word balanced in the same sentence. 

          Easily the most pro-Dalglish blog on the internet.

        • Kopite85

           some off dalgish’s decisions  have been woeful!just because hes a legend dosent make him right all the time!we finish sixth last season with a “worse team” adam and henderson were terrible signing’s,hes signed a 35 million pound striker and wont play to his strenghts????were’s the logic??to drop maxi week in week out for that fool henderson is just simply foolish!with regards to andy carroll,we’d have been better keeping n’gog ffs!!

      • Houkura

        If you fools had your way Steven Gerrard would have rotted on the bench as well. He was crap his first season. You clearly don’t get what building a team entails.

  • Ramjunumsrk

    i appreciate the fact that u mentioned, but yesterday mtach the pass of liverpool fc players was like division 3 players, mediocre. the manager has been here for nearly more than a year and to incorporate passing skills to his players is just out of his mind. when lFc player has a ball in his feet, there are no Lfc players around him to pass the ball. On the other hand LFC counter attacks was like TORTOISE, as stoke players were already placed to deter any counter attack. when in come to midfield, Gerrard is not what he was in 2005. we need stamina, strength, height, passion for the club and ready to die for it and also the never dying spirit of players. yesterday in the match apart from Gerrard and SUAREZ, we did not see a split pass from any liverpool player to split the defence of stoke. in Defence, skrtel has layed well, but we need to stay put with coates and let him have football experience as he is our future. when clearing balls, LFC players gave too many possesions away, even headers were not convincingly won. When LFC player heads a ball, they should give that to another LFC player but that is not the case. Enrique was playing badly, his touch and even his crosses were. LFC players should lift their heads up and see their comardes and then pass that ball other than failing to do so. it even goes to all the LFC players on the pitch yesterday. Carroll for me lacks confidence and he should do more.Huth and him has the same height but huth was jumping far ahead than caroll, maybe caroll was just too heavy to jump. on the our attack we need a clinical finisher and an opportunist that feeds the errors of defence. Maybe then we will be in a better place to win this league that we have been so far been contemplating than to ascertain every season our aim is to finish fourth. we need quality players and if it goes to be foreigners, why not them? i would have gone for Iker Munien of Atletic Bilbao for 20 mn pound instead of Downing or henderson.

    • mamuniho

      What would you rather? We play really good and not win like the most of this season? Didn’t think so, winning was the most important thing.

  • DanieRed

    I have advocated this very team bar Downing,[but I think if he continues scoring his confidence will rise to acceptable levels] as I know that Bellamy, Maxi and Suarez can be the most potent support for Carroll or Kuyt. We would not have lost all those points if KD had shown less favouritism to Hendo Adam and Downing, I still think that he has not learnt anything as he will divert back to Hendo [kit-model] in the next game.  Good luck all I can say is that KD is lost in days-of-old, thus his signings and arrogant defence of his tactics.  no offence but we are all Reds – YNWA

  • Savs

    You self-righteous little so-and-so. I’m sure you were blasting Lucas too a few years back. Kenny is trying to move the club forward and Maxi is not the future. Yes, he’s a very intelligent footballer but “oh wise one” do you notice the shift Henderson puts in throughout the match..? Henderson will become a fantastic footballer for us in time and I suspect he’ll be much improved and much more confident next season. Downing has been better and better recently. Apart from his goal he had an average game?? What game were you watching “oh wise one”??? Adam, yes, has been a big disappointment and had Lucas been fit and Gerrard played more games I suspect he would’ve been on the bench more often. Spearing has been injured too as well as being suspended. Adam was bought for 6-7m as a squad player and I’m happy with that. But, still, he has been very disappointing especially with set plays where he excelled at Blackpool. And he has often tried the hollywood pass and tried to do too much. Again I supect he will be much improved next season and I’m happy to have him on the bench. Unless he’s sold of course. And back to Heenderson…did you see the way we played against Arsenal? Henderson excelled. Our team has had a lot of necessary changes, which is why we’ve been inconsistent. Our performances have ranged from excellent to average to bad. Kenny knows what he’s doing but he needs time to do it. So get off your high horse “oh wise one” and see the big picture for a change. And that goes to all you buddy, knee-jerk, fickle know-it-alls out there.

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      Is that you’re only excuse. Not just you, but everyone who loses their top whenever someone comments on a player.

      “They’ll be just like Lucas! You must have been the ones slating Lucas”

      No, I wasn’t actually and what about all the other flops who haven’t made it? Isn’t there a greater probability they’ll end up that way? Poulsen, Cole, Voronin, Konchesky, Babel, Morientes, Gonzales, Pennant, Kewell,  to name but a few who haven’t gone on to make it at the club. Why do assume everyone will come good, just because Lucas did? Many of them were talented and many of them worked hard, but more failed than made it. 

      Is it just because Dalglish told you so? And anyway, you’re missing the entire point. Henderson cost us nearly £20 million, Lucas cost us about £6 million. The whole point of buying British and paying over the odds was because they were supposed to hit the ground running. Premier League proven as they say. Did that happen? You don’t pay that kind of money for potential. Will Henderson come good? He might, but Liverpool FC’s not a training ground for people to practice on. That’s what the reserves are for. 

      If you’re entire judgment of a footballer is whether they “put a shift in” or not, then I’ve lost all respect for you immediately. Where’s the quality? That’s what wins things, not hard work alone. 

      You say Downing had a good game and I’m the one who knows nothing about football? What did he do besides hit the first man with his crosses, other than the goal? He’s 28 and we paid £20 million for him, how is that building for the future and any different from playing Maxi? 

      Please, next time you come on here to attack me think before you type.

      • Savs

        You attack Dalglish, I’ll attack you my friend. Anytime I want. Yes, Downing had a fantastic game, especially throughout the 2nd half where he was a constant threat. But he’s a Dalglish signing so of course you won’t want to give him credit. And yes, there is such a thing as putting a shift in. This means tracking back, covering for the defenders, closing space. Yes, football isn’t just about pretty one-twos around the penalty box. Somebody has to do the dirty work as well. We paid over the odds for British players yes. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a thing called the home-grown rule. Kenny wants a British heartbeat to the team and I believe that should be the case. Everyone makes mistakes, all managers do. Fergie has made his fair share over the years. But if you think you know how do build a team better than Kenny, then fair play to you my friend.

        • Liverpool Football Blog

          So I think with that statement you’ve pretty much shown that you’re incapable of objective thought. You’re mind is clouded by an obsessive belief in anything Kenny Dalglish does to the point where you’re claiming to defend a man you’ve probably never even met. Actually, I won’t give Downing credit because he’s scored two goals and had one assist after a £20 million transfer. And yes, I will gladly give credit to Suarez, Enrique and Coates all good players at reasonable prices. I just don’t support outrageous money on average players. Although, Comolli has to take some of the blame for that. 

          In case you haven’t heard, the home grown rule states a player must play in England for 3 years before they’re 21, nothing about being English. Brad Jones, an Australian is homegrown and you only have to have eight home grown players in the entire 25 man squad. That doesn’t mean you have to go and litter the entire starting 11 with them. 

          Ok, you go and build a hard working team with no quality and I’ll go build a team with quality that also works hard, and we’ll see who wins in a best out of five? 

  • mamuniho

    What the hell is up with this Maxi obsession? He was crap yesterday, didn’t do anything amazing. I personally like Hendo, but it’s not his fault when Kenny (wrongly) plays him on the right hand side of midfield. He’s got a pass on him the lad. If played in the middle he’ll be a beauty of a player, he’s only 21 after all and he’s already this good! Maxi has his moments, but he was non-existent apart from that one-two with Suarez. Cheers, Mamun.

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      Maxi is a good player who’s being wasted away on the bench when he still has a lot to offer to the club right now. He actually played well, but I guess not doing much to you means he didn’t put in a typical thunderous tackle or try an outrageous shot from 30 yards. Keeping it simple and respecting possession is doing nothing to you, right? 

      Henderson’s a £20 million player with potential, nothing more. He’s better than Charlie Adam, but right now, with Gerrard and Spearing playing well he doesn’t deserve a start in the middle and playing him wide right shouldn’t be a problem for that price. Gerrard will play well regardless of where you put him, if Henderson’s as good as you say he should be able to slot in to any position you put him in. 

    • Aquaman

      you personally like Hendo, the invisible player?

  • mamuniho

    Oh….and that comment about Hendo not being able to play a one touch pass with Suarez, ahem, game v Everton. Stop hammering the lad, he’s good!

    • Liverpool Football Blog

      That’s one of the only good things he’s done all season. To be honest, Shelvey is just as good if not better yet we don’t use him because he’s not a Dalglish signing.

      • Aquaman

        no doubt shelvey is better than henderson!!!

  • Lee_lb

    I don’t think it is a mistake to play Adam when Gerrard and Lucas are injured. Adam is a squad player and is probably worth 6 million.

  • Felderkirk

    Very good article. I agree totally.

  • Gnaks

     I like the way KD wants to play, but not the player he tries to do it with!

    Quik pass and play dont compute with the likes of Carroll, Adam, Henderson and Downing, we need teqnically gifted players with pace and vision that can link up in attack!

    We could have goten pure quality in Ardan Turan and Balaz Dzsudzsak,
    for half the price of Downing and Henderson..

    But the worst is that we bought Carroll and Adam for more than £40 mill, what a joke!!!
    Those money should have been spendt more wisley…
    Can write a loooong list of players that could have given us!

    – And why send Aquilani out in the cold on loan?
    he is 10 times the player Adam ever will be, just shocking!

    – Why spend £20 mill on Henderson when we have Shelvy?

    – Why couldnt Meireles get a better contract as promised?
    he is 10 times the player Adam ever will be, just shocking!


    spot on article mate!

    Though you only highlighted what all sane LFC supporters already know right?

    Too little too late from KK if you ask me…

    I say this because in the summer he will handed funds again

  • Kopite85

    jordon henderson has been fucking shocking all season imo!

  • guest

    KD has to keep playing his purchases in order to justify the expense to the American owners. So far though, the midfield trio of Adam, Henderson and Downing haven’t been as convincing as KD previously thought. Every LFC manager has bought players who seemed worthy of a punt but haven’t matched expectation with performance and were swiftly moved on. Are we seeing another example of this with our British buys? We already had a decent CM in the shape of Jonjo Shelvey, who I am convinced will be as good as Gerrard, and if Meireles had been given his pay rise we wouldn’t be lamenting the performances of A,H and D as they wouldn’t even have been bought. We’d probably be in a much stronger League position too. Carroll was an eleventh hour panic buy – hence the huge, and so far, unjustified fee. He may be big presence but he’s got no pace and seems to fall over a great deal. We need another strike partner for Suarez. Someone with skill, pace, able to turn defences inside out and with a clinical finish.