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Why Dalglish legend is turning Liverpool into also-ran 'Cup team'

For the good of Liverpool FC, Kenny Dalglish should be doing some serious soul searching this week.

A first ever defeat at Anfield against Wigan Athletic simply underlined Liverpool's abysmal league form since the turn of the year. Only Wolves have taken fewer points since January 1.

There's been plenty said about the 'yes men' at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, but who does Dalglish turn to for some home truths? Is there anyone at Anfield who can pull the King aside and tell him it just isn't working out? Even at Manchester United, Sir Bobby Charlton still has seniority over Sir Alex Ferguson.

But if change at Liverpool is needed - and statistics would suggest it does - then only Dalglish, himself, will decide if he is the man to take the club forward.

After the Wigan shocker, Dalglish did talk about changing their approach in the League and abandoning their "lovely football" - but that's where it stopped. Dalglish again left fans hanging, refusing to expand on his thoughts.

He appears to be blind to how his comments are now portraying Liverpool. Dalglish was (again) spoiling for a fight with journalists last week when asked about their league placing, insisting winning Cups was more important than finishing in the top four.

Is that what Liverpool is becoming? A Cup team?

And what has been missed in the whole Cup debate was the manner of that Carling Cup triumph: On penalties against a Championship club not even in the playoff places.

Is this what Reds fans should expect from a £117 million outlay?

What Dalglish and Damien Comolli have spent their 100 million quid on is potential. None of those they've brought in are nailed-on, consistent Premier League performers. Which is unlike a club of similar ambitions like Tottenham, where Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor have been outstanding.

Liverpool have three frontline leaders - Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina. But Carragher is now a bit-part player, while Gerrard has struggled to get on the pitch consistently since Dalglish's appointment. Where would the Reds be with a Parker or William Gallas as part of Dalglish's line-up?

There's big, big holes in Dalglish's squad and no matter how talented lads like Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Suso are, you can't dismiss experience.

So whose making these decisions? The buck has to stop with Dalglish. It's a struggle to see Comolli, backed by the Billy Bean theory, over-ruling him, or the Scot standing aside and allowing the football director a free hand at adding players to his squad.

The problem gets back to who is Dalglish's counter-balance at Anfield?

Plenty has been said about the ruthlessness of John W Henry when things aren't meeting expectations. But given the way they've dragged their feet on the Luis Suarez issue, it's difficult to see decisive action coming from Boston anytime soon.

Only one man has had the bottle to show Dalglish the door during his career - Freddy Shepherd, the former Newcastle United chairman. At Celtic, Blackburn Rovers and Anfield, Dalglish, with all other avenues exhausted, was eventually booted upstairs.

If he does decide the job's beyond him, that is the most likely option awaiting Reds fans this time around.

He still has plenty of breathing room from the Kop and Merseyside press. But even the most loyal will surely begin to wonder if all they can hope for is being a 'good Cup team'.

The question for Reds fans is - do you want to be winning Cup finals at Wembley against Championship opposition? Or do you want nights like Arsenal and Chelsea supporters have experienced in the last few weeks?

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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