It has, without question, been a rather mixed-and unexpected-season for Liverpool fans. With the money spent and the convincing end to the previous campaign since Dalglish replaced the disappointing Roy Hodgson, and John Hicks and George Gillett reluctantly relinquished control (which led to Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry taking over), the club looked to be heading in the right direction away from the field; however, as we know, all has certainly not been well on it.
The season began with a sense of optimism for the Merseysiders; a renovated squad, ownership and management led to seemingly believable rumours of a title challenge that were instantaneously frustrated, questioned and later shattered by the numerous home draws and defeats, performances like that away trip to Bolton and the ‘Suarez saga’ have accumulated in raw disappointment for the Reds, who (as of Friday 20th) have slipped behind fellow Merseysiders Everton in the Premier League.
Since January, the results and points tally have been that of a relegation-threatened team, leaving them lingering towards the base of the form table. Those who watch and analyse Liverpool find it hard to, in several cases, put two and two together: how can a team have all the possession, have so many chances, hit the woodwork countless times only to draw or succumb to another defeat?
It seems that it has just not ‘clicked’ for Dalglish and his expensive team this season, resulting in what many would have deemed impossible-fans wishing for the Scot to exit the door that Hodgson left through not so long ago. However, despite the optimism, the results have been poor; it is an inescapable fact. Dalglish’s supporters may be concerned to know that the American owner, a stranger to football and owner of a Baseball team, is not a man who can be considered naive or unaware of the situation at Liverpool: he is an owner who will act off the back of results. If Dalglish continues to underperform, he may not own the job for much longer.
As poor as the league form has been, Liverpool have certainly achieved in the season’s two domestic cups that are available to them. Albeit unconvincingly, the Carling cup was won as Cardiff couldn’t hold off the Reds on eventual penalties. It may have been ‘only’ the Carling cup; however it signified a major achievement given the circumstances.
The more creditable F.A cup has been a similar story. The league underperformances have been absent as Liverpool recently made it to the final to play Chelsea (on May 5) after defeating Merseyside rivals Everton 2-1 in the Wembley-staged Semi Final. Chelsea will enter the final as favourites, yet the Reds are certainly in with a shout of emerging victorious. Despite the possible double, however, will Dalglish have done enough at the end of the season to retain his status as manager?
It’s no secret that Dalglish is considered a legend at the club, and always will be, yet the league has been the major talking point within the media this campaign, along with the general public. The consistency of the problems has been the most surprising thing; there has seemed no end, home or away, to the continuous dropping of points.
Only a handful of people, including John W. Henry and Dalglish himself, will know whether the Scotsman has time to build and shape his team into a title-challenging force, which is what the majority of fans expect them to be. If he doesn’t, rumours suggest he may either face the sack or take on an executive-type role at the club, a solution that would have a fair few advantages. On the other hand, if he does have time, this extensive string of poor results cannot be prolonged into the next campaign.
Therefore, Dalglish will not only have to be optimistic, effective and convincing pretty soon in order to save himself from the sack, but saving his club’s reputation and the belief of Liverpool’s loyal supporters is also at stake.
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