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Old 7th February 2011, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
tcd
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After four wins on the bounce and Liverpool up to sixth - Kenny's riding on the crest of his waves

The travelling support sang his name; Kenny Dalglish raised his left hand in acknowledgement. They did it again, and so did he. And again. And once more.

Every time they lauded him - and we are well into double figures here - no matter how tense the moment, no matter that his eyes never left the field of play, Dalglish let his disciples know it was appreciated.

He may be keeping them onside, he may be playing a shrewd public relations game, but he is playing a shrewder one as manager, tactical architect and inspirational figurehead for a revived Liverpool right now.



His only worry should be developing some form of repetitive strain injury from all that waving. He is Anfield royalty after all. It is hard to understand why Liverpool's new owners are delaying here.

True, this is only a four-match winning spell, and Roy Hodgson had one of those between October 24 and November 7 that also included victory over Chelsea, but this feels different.

Dalglish has united the club in a way that was beyond his predecessor, one can only presume the transfer-window signings were players he endorsed and now the results have placed Liverpool just six points off the Champions League places.

The transformation is complete. Of course it is a honeymoon period, but for Dalglish to be passed over in the summer there would have to be a manager out there who could get more from this group of players: and yesterday that simply was not conceivable. What are they waiting for?

Steve Clarke, Dalglish's right-hand man, will also receive a lot of credit for this display, but if the manager still operates as he did during his time at Blackburn Rovers, team selection and shape will be his domain and Clarke will be required to take these nuts and bolts and get Dalglish's model working.

So that makes Dalglish the wit behind the three-at-the-back system that so smartly negated Chelsea's lavish front line. And Dalglish the successful gambler who left new signing Luis Suarez out of his starting line-up, despite his goal in midweek, and refused to introduce him as a late substitute.



Dalglish said he has not discussed a more permanent role and no date for a meeting about his future has been set, but it is not for him to force the issue. The evidence is plain. He is good for Liverpool's soul, but he is good in more earthbound ways, too.

He is good because he gets the best out of players like Raul Meireles and Lucas, who have struggled under previous managers. He is good because he is bold enough to play England's right back, Glen Johnson, as a left wing back and make it pay. He is good because he has taken a system that is hopelessly unfashionable in the modern era, and won with it at fortress Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had the advantage in terms of possession and goal attempts, but Liverpool had the best chances and always looked more likely to win. Most significantly, while Chelsea seemed a little lost with their new game-plan accommodating Fernando Torres, Dalglish's Liverpool knew exactly what they were about and how the plan should be executed.

The return of Jamie Carragher to the defence made a huge difference, as well as burying the lie that English players cannot respond to new ideas. Carragher performed superbly in a defensive three, showing what can be achieved by a player who takes an interest in the technical aspects of football and sees beyond the superficial.

For the fans of his other qualities there was a classic blood-and-thunder tackle to deny Torres in the first half, although goalkeeper Pepe Reina looked to have the shot covered had Carragher missed.



Even amid the din of bitter rivalry - the blue shirts of Chelsea always seem to bring the best out of Liverpool - Carragher's voice could be heard screaming instructions for the next detail at his team-mates.

As the game wore on, however, they needed his instructions less and less. Chelsea were scrappy, seemingly unnerved by the occasion, and Torres in particular was a disappointment. Worse, cramming the quart of Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka into the pint pot that is Chelsea's central front line left the team dangerously imbalanced.

Key to Chelsea's success in any titlewinning season has been the scoring form of Frank Lampard, bursting from midfield into the penalty area. Jose Mourinho pitched this perfectly by making Drogba his lone striker with two wide forwards, Dutch-style.

Lampard had a choice of two channels and used them magnificently. Against Liverpool he had nowhere to go. Neither did Michael Essien. The centre was congested, and neither player is a threat diverted wide.

Chelsea ended up punting long balls of varying quality into the penalty area and while this gave the illusion of heavy pressure, the reality was that Liverpool had them at arm's length. There were a few penalty appeals, none entirely convincing, but Liverpool remained in charge.

As for Torres, withdrawn to raucous red derision and replaced by Salomon Kalou after 66 minutes, he cut a dejected, frustrated figure. His sole shot at goal came after one minute and 35 seconds and at times he appeared to be trying too hard, and without great purpose.

His next outing, against Fulham a week today, will be less intense, although by then Chelsea could be adrift of Manchester United by 13 points.

'Breaking news: you paid £50m for Margi Clarke' read one Liverpool banner, a cultural reference drawn from the time Dalglish was delivering the club's last domestic title. By the time he disappeared anonymously down the tunnel, Torres looked more in need of the late Marjorie Proops, agony aunt.

For Liverpool, though, it would appear the agony may at least be over. Dalglish described this as a good week which, considering it began with the loss of a player many would regard as their greatest asset, is some achievement.

Modestly, he played down his role in it, but it cannot be long before the owners make him a permanent fixture. If only to stop the poor guy's shoulder seizing up.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/foo...est-waves.html

P/S : The team Kenny inherit is even "weaker" than Roy against Chelsea. We just sold Torres & Babel. Left with Ngog as striker and no Carroll no Suarez.

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Last edited by tcd; 7th February 2011 at 11:42 AM.
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