Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool can win title, says Kenny Dalglish

By Ian Herbert

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has held out the prospect of his reshaped squad challenging for the Premier League title in the season ahead, brushing away the suggestion of the club's owner, John W Henry, that a Champions League place is the more realistic target for next May.

As his club presented £45m new acquisitions Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Brazilian reserve goalkeeper Doni, Dalglish suggested that Fenway Sports Group — the proprietors who have proved so willing to spend £102.4m since they ended Liverpool's disastrous and ruinous Hicks and Gillett co-ownership last January — are the best in the Premier League.

But the one point on which the views of Dalglish and his club's principal owner Henry appear to diverge is the latter's realism. The American told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in midweek that it is “too early for us to start talking about winning the league; our main goal is to qualify for the Champions League”.

Dalglish, whose less than discursive mood reflects his desire to return Liverpool to being a club which keeps all its business within its own walls, had these responses: “Have you asked John Henry?” “Well done, John!” “Do you argue with your boss?” he concluded.

There was levity in Dalglish's reply but a clear sense is emerging that he believes that there could have been no short cut to spending at the Liverpool he inherited last January.

“Certainly, spending money does not guarantee you success. I don't know of any football club that has ever had success that has not spent money.

“So it is necessary. But it's even more important to spend it wisely.”

Despite all the talk about the significance of the depth of squads, Dalglish, who has no European quest to distract from the pursuit of fourth place in the Premier League which Henry has declared he is looking for, also cut to the chase on the real significance of signings.

“Quality is more important than depth but if you have a bit of depth as well it is always helpful,” he declared.

“The summer acquisitions had made a difference to fans on the streets of the city, Dalglish added: “It has given the supporters a bit of hope and put a smile back on their faces.

“In and around the city, you can see the feel-good factor is there for us. Now we have got to go on the pitch and win games.”

Dalglish's preoccupation is how to assemble his new acquisitions. His primary requirements had seemed to be a left-back — an £8m move for Newcastle's Jose Enrique is imminent despite the player's £60,000-per-week pay demands — and a left-winger: Downing.

Steven Gerrard's omission until September, recovering from groin surgery and a subsequent infection, resolves the problem of Dalglish's preponderance of central midfielders. But it will be there soon enough.

Adam, Henderson, Downing, Lucas, Raul Meireles, Dirk Kuyt, Cole and Maxi Rodriguez all seem to be competing for three midfield places.

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