The jury is out. King Kenny has succumbed to the pressure of the Liverpool hot-seat and been asked to leave his beloved club. This follows yet another disappointing season, with Liverpool even further away from a top four finish than ever before. Personally I feel this is the right move by Fenway Sports Group. They bought Liverpool promising to bring an era of success and now look to make good on that promise by relieving an underperforming manager, no matter how beloved, from his post.
1) Transfer troubles
I think it is safe to say that Kenny Dalglish got the transfer strategy all wrong. Liverpool was in a prime position to buy and rebuild, with new owners, cash and a supposedly new outlook. Instead it was more of the same for Liverpool fans, where newcomers were either of unknown quality (Henderson, Adam) or middling (Downing, Jose Enrique). Liverpool's track record with these kinds of signings has been more Dossena-s and Diouf-s than Demba Ba-s. Suffice to say, none of the signings lived up to the bill of playing to a level expected of any Red, except for maybe Craig Bellamy who carried the attack during the midseason in place of a suspended Suarez and an ineffective Carroll.
One could attempt to deflect the blame for these transfer failures to ex-Director of Football Strategy, Damien Comolli. However, he is probably more at fault for agreeing to the exorbitant fees than determining if they were right for the squad. I understand the transfer decisions were made jointly, if so Dalglish should be correctly faulted for failing to take Liverpool to the next level.
2) Systematic Problems
Liverpool has been so maddeningly inconsistent this season that one starts to wonder what kind of tactics Dalglish set out to employ. Their form at the tail-end of the season was WLWLWL is basically the story of their year. The man many regard as “The King” was not able to impart an effective game plan and the players’ lack of direction was painfully apparent.
While they managed to beat a weakened Chelsea side immediately following their FA Cup loss, it was the same story all over when they lost to Swansea in their final match. Unable to break down a dogged defense, their less illustrious opponents showed more hunger and were more incisive in their attacking movement.
Liverpool needs a better strategy. They need better ball movement, positioning and movement off the ball, fundamentals that have been absent since Xabi Alonso left. If Robert Martinez could turn Wigan into such a potent force down the stretch, then there must surely be a problem with Liverpool’s tactical system!
Take nothing away from what Kenny has achieved at Liverpool FC. He was the unifying force steadying the ship when Liverpool seemed to be imploding toward the end of the Hicks-Gillet era and Hodgson losing the dressing room. His purchase of Suarez is probably the best thing to happen for Liverpool since Torres left for greener pastures and his managerial record to date was impeccable.
Ultimately, however, it is down to the manager to get the best out his team and his players, to motivate them to be consistent or give them a jolt to get out of ruts. Frankly "the best" of Liverpool has been few and far between this season, demonstrating the need for better man-management. Perhaps the modern game has really evolved to a point where Dalglish can no longer relate. The bottom line was he was brought in the get the best of his players, but the results speak for themselves.
Where Liverpool go from here, will be down to the astuteness and clarity of FSG. So far, they have shown ambition, and that is something Liverpool sorely need right now.