Kenny Dalglish claims Stewart Downing is a better player than he thought. I’m not going to pretend. I can’t stand Downing or better said, I have no idea how he is considered a quality player. He can’t beat any fullback, his passing is limited to square balls and he barely crosses it let alone scores. But that’s my opinion. However now Dalglish has come in to defend his player it simply confirms something I’ve been thinking over. That be that Kenny has lost it if he was any good in the first place as a manager.
I give three pieces of evidence. Firstly in his first spell as LFC manager, he managed a team into decline despite spending a lot of money. However all empires fall so I won’t be too harsh there. Secondly this present team again has had a lot of money thrown at it but he’s bought terribly. Henderson, Downing, Carroll and Adam, between them valued (rather than worth) £78m are all not good enough for the level LFC wish to play at. And they never will be good enough. Further the players he’s failed to replace include his centre backs, Agger and Skrtel who are not good enough.
My third point concerns tactics. LFC played Stoke last week, a team with a large physical presence upfront. So Kenny shifted his tactics to 3-5-2 employing three centre halves and wing-backs. Sounds logical and progressive except this isn’t 1994 or 1986. Three at the back constantly fail and this formation has only worked once in 1986 when Argentina had a certain Maradona in the team. But more simply Kenny’s thinking was; ok Stoke have a big man so we will draft in a big man in Coates to mark him neglecting the fact that with 3 across the back and wingbacks in advanced positions, the crosses are going to be coming in all day. Whether Coates is good enough is doubtful but Kenny’s tactics were unique in the league and uniquely wrong. As a result, the crosses rained in all day and he ended up essentially playing 5 at the back.
However moving to the league in general, it’s still a two-horse race between the Manchester Clubs. Chelsea are too inconsistent and lack confidence. Cahill won’t add much. Spurs play the best football in the league but still lack a certain firepower and I’m not sold on them when Gallas and King aren’t fit. Arsenal are improving but lightweight and less gorgeous than they used to be. Newcastle are a good side, slightly short of the top 5 but well-organised and playing with confidence.
At the bottom, O’Neill has saved Sunderland while Norwich, Everton, Fulham, Stoke and Villa will be fine. I still have some concerns over Swansea but QPR should now be fine. Wigan look done. Blackburn will struggle but go down. Wolves have enough team spirit which condemns Bolton. It’s between them and close.