As much as I find myself in a land of confusion and frustration about our beloved Reds these days, not sure if I should be calling for the manager's head or calling for patience, whether I should be kicking holes in the wall or accepting it was always a transitional season, that's the number I can't get by. That's Liverpool's points-per-game rate since the new year, and that is obviously relegation form. There's no way around that.
I wanted to save a thorough examination of Kenny Dalglish as manager for the end of the year, and that will probably still happen. But at this point, it's probably a good idea to see what we've got here now.
When Kenny took the job, there was a fear that the game would have passed him by. And I don't think we can say that's the case. Kenny got very creative with his formations and tactics last year to pull Liverpool out of that swamp, and it's not like he's been inflexible this season. While we may have seen far too much of the 4-2-2-2 system that Liverpool don't really have the pieces for, that doesn't mean we haven't seen 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 or even three at the back. This has been far preferable to the rigid 4-6-0 that Roy Hodgson never wavered from. Liverpool have tried to be direct or careful, attack through the middle or out wide, so he's tried everything.
But some of the decisions with personnel are just curious. Andy Carroll can't seem to get a game even though Liverpool play better when he's in the side, whether he's scoring enough for the press or not. Dirk Kuyt went from substitute to automatic choice for the 11, without his game really changing all that much. We couldn't get Adam out of the lineup, then he couldn't get in, then he had to go out of his way to play himself out of it before getting hurt. Jordan Henderson has had like five minutes at his preferred role. Sebastien Coates development appears halted. Jonjo Shelvey was recalled from a loan that he was benefiting from, and we've seen the gleam off his shiny dome for another five minutes it seems. There have been other kids who never got a look, and could they really have been much worse than what we've seen?
But of course, there's the one trophy and the real possibility of another. But it's that number at the top that ruins the shine of those. I can't get past that number.
Dalglish has taken some heat for the transfers, but from what I can tell that's not really his department, it's Damien Comolli's. Either way, it's not encouraging. Meireles and Aquilani out for Adam in looks to be the biggest blunder possible. Maybe Aquilani never wanted to stay, maybe Meireles has his defensive problems. But ask yourselves this: would Adam get in the Portugal 11? Thought so. Combined with Comolli's spotty record at Spurs, and hope struggles to find oxygen.
Maybe this is all decided on how Liverpool finish the year, though I don't see how winning a string of meaningless league games should change anything, even if the FA Cup is brought back to Merseyside. Dalglish's excuses are getting old, and the play is getting worse. He was needed at the time he was hired, a man who would immediately snap the players to attention. He did that. But I'm beginning to wonder if that was the extent of his powers.
Guess we'll find out.
I'll repost the Champions League thread before kickoff of those matches.