By Jake Watson at Anfield
The return of Kenny Dalglish to Liverpool in January last year was met with incredible optimism by the club’s fans. Success runs deep into the corridors of Anfield though the supporters had to endure six long years without a trophy before their recent League Cup success and yet doubts still remain over the progress that is being made.
Dalglish has the unanimous support of both the club's board and fans, though from the outside it could be argued that the Reds have in fact made very little strides to get back to competing at the top of the Premier League once more.
|DALGLISH VS HODGSON
With £105 million invested under his tenure on the likes of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, only Manchester City and Chelsea have spent more in that time although they are still clearly unable to challenge at the very top. Liverpool’s winning heritage expects the club to challenge but they are being compromised with the Europa League and cup runs that should be associated with a mid-table side.
Dalglish’s predecessor Roy Hodgson, who was incidentally hired on his recommendation, is looked back on as being a failure although, as things stand, the 50% win percentage held by 'King Kenny' does not appear value for money in comparison to Hodgson’s 42% with minimal monies spent. Rafael Benitez was marred by his inability to win the Premier League yet boasts an impressive win rate of 55%.
Dalglish recently defended these suggestions by claiming the club was making strides in all areas and that their progress should not simply be judged by points accumulated.
"I don't think there's any reason why anyone would say there's not been progress made," Dalglish said.
"You go off the pitch and see how much monies we are getting through sponsorship, kit deals. You go through the academy and look at how much better it is. You look around here and most of the people have got a smile on their faces now. As you have said yourselves the squad is stronger than it was last year. What other areas are there to improve upon – apart from points?"
Now frankly, despite Liverpool fans being highly unlikely to publicly disagree with this statement it seems baffling that a defence can be made based on the goings on in the academy. Dalglish has had backing and has spent big, though a number of his signings have not produced.
Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam have all arrived for substantial fees, yet not represented a fraction of the figure’s that were shelled out. Liverpool are in fact on exactly the same amount of points as they were at this stage last season and remain 10 points off fourth-placed Arsenal with 10 games remaining, leaving little hope of a return to the Champions League next season.
The pre-season target would have been to finish in the top four, at the very least, though the League Cup victory appears to have bought Dalglish more time as he tries to bring some much-needed consistency. Wembley now waits for Liverpool and with either Everton or Sunderland the opponents they will expect to progress once more to a final.
With sixth place now looking the most realistic of targets for the Premier League and the League Cup already secured, this should not be viewed as a successful season for the club. The FA Cup does represent a more prestigious trophy than its 'poorer' relative and if they were to secure it, Dalglish’s claims of progress will suddenly appear to make a lot more sense.