Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Time running out for Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish is the biggest hero in the history of Liverpool Football Club. Ask a Red who their all-time Anfield idol is and most will say Dalglish, ahead of other icons such as Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Steven Gerrard.

It's a well deserved title given all the great Scot has done for LFC from his playing days to his time as manager and most importantly to his role as comfort and support to the bereaved following the Hillsborough tragedy. Dalglish is seen as more of a saint than a soccer boss amongst the liver bird fraternity on Merseyside.

There's an unwritten rule on the Kop that King Kenny should not be criticised. It would be seen as an act of betrayal.

More and more people, though admittedly most not speaking with a scouse tone, are breaking that rule, sticking the knife in and declaring on radio phone-in shows, internet fan forums and twitter that Kenny can't cut it as Liverpool boss second time around.

Recent results suggest they have a point.

Dalglish has presided over three defeats in a row in the league and six losses in seven games, amassing just eight points from a possible 36 in 2012, culminating in Liverpool's worst run of form in the top flight since 1954. And we all thought Roy Hodgson's record was poor.

Liverpool's first trophy — the Carling Cup — since 2006 may have been lifted in February, but good memories of that fortunate final win over Cardiff at Wembley are being over-ridden by this shocking list of results.

The Reds are now in an embarrassing eighth place in the Premier League, below Everton, who have spent a tiny fraction of the millions outlayed by their city rivals since the summer.

When Dalglish arrived in January last year for his second spell in charge, he initially got the players onside, but he seems to have lost them now.

A manager is nothing without inspiring his team and the bottom line here is that the Liverpool players are simply not performing for the boss.

There have been many desperate displays from the Reds lately, but the 2-0 defeat at Newcastle on Sunday was the worst as the team lost the plot as well as the match.

The behaviour of Andy Carroll, the £35m flop, was appalling. When he shouted abuse at Dalglish and raced down the tunnel to the dressing room after being substituted it was the most aggression and pace he's shown all season. Liverpool really should cut their losses and get rid.

Moments after Carroll's petulance came indiscipline from Pepe Reina, a goalkeeper living on past performances, who stupidly aimed a head-butt at an opponent and was correctly red carded.

Carroll and Reina are not the only players to have let Dalglish down. Luis Suarez did that with the Patrice Evra racism/handshake affair, and with his performances since returning from suspension.

He's been woeful lately. Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, all brought in for big money by Dalglish, have been that bad all season.

Out of all Kenny's summer moves, only Craig Bellamy has truly delivered and he came on a free transfer!

I genuinely believe the attitude of most of the players is all wrong. They put in huge effort against so called bigger teams, as illustrated by wins over Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea this season, but look disinterested when the lesser lights are opposite them and it costs them in defeats.

Kenny has to take blame for that. He should get the players up for EVERY game.

Dalglish, who doesn't help himself by treating the media with contempt, has another two years of his contract to run.

Friends and ex-team-mates may say he won't walk or be sacked, but the American owners will surely be wanting much more of a return on their to date £120m investment on new players.

It depends how patient John Henry is, but Kenny's future could ironically come down to an FA Cup tie with Everton.

Remember his last one as Liverpool boss — 4-4 at Goodison Park in 1991? He left two days later.

Could history repeat itself? Defeat in the semi-final on Saturday week combined with continued awful league form and it's hard to see Kenny being boss of Liverpool next season.

Even if the American owners are fearful of annoying the Kop by axing an icon, Dalglish, who has always put the team first unlike some of his players, might recognise what's needed himself and admit he's not the man for the job.

Belfast Telegraph


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