The end of the reign of the most unsuccessful manager in the history of Liverpool Football Club was brought about by a combination of poor results and fans’ demands for the return of Kenny Dalglish. Many pointed to Dalglish’s experience of winning trophies and dismissed criticisms that he was out of the game for too long and argued that he had been involved in the scouting department and the Academy at Liverpool. Journalists and media commentators alike questioned whether this was an unhealthy dose of nostalgia administered to the dying club at Anfield and drew comparisons with the re-appointment of Kevin Keegan at Newcastle.
Thankfully, they were wrong. Kenny’s appointment brought about a remarkable turn around in the club’s fortunes and a seemingly healthy sixth place finish.
In some ways Liverpool was almost too successful. Most fans have ignored the results against Tottenham and Aston Villa in the last two games of the season. Both are games that Liverpool will need to win next year. Villa are not relegation strugglers. Until the resignation of Martin O’Neill, they were challenging for European places. Tottenham’s rise under Harry Redknapp saw them knock LFC out of the top four. Despite this, players and fans alike are arguing that Liverpool can make a credible title challenge next season.
Admittedly, Kenny has purchased some interesting players. According to the Opta stats, Henderson and Downing are among the top five players in the premiership who created chances on goal for their teams. Rather than have Gerrard on the assist sheet, next year LFC will have Suarez, Carroll, Downing, Henderson and Adam all creating goal opportunities.
First things first, however, Liverpool need to get back into the top four. With European football among the elite, the club will be more attractive to top class young players across the globe (i.e. those who were born after the heyday of the 1980s). That may not be as simple as some are leading us to believe. Roy Evans has preached caution to Liverpool fans everywhere in an interview with talkSPORT: “We’re a fair bit behind the top four of five clubs”.
While Liverpool may make a credible challenge for the title next season, it seems a more realistic option being preached by those who know football, and more importantly, know Liverpool Football Club. Perhaps, a scrap for fourth place is the more realistic option for our expectations next season.