This Time Next Year, Rodders…

by Joshua Fowler

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

King Kenny’s recent return to Anfield is a matter that really doesn’t need anymore column inches devoted to it. We all know how well he’s done, how well the team have done and how much happier The Kop are since Hodgson’s departure.

With a contract firmly tucked into his inside pocket, Dalglish can now look forward to next season and further progress to build upon his recent success in the latter part of this season. His entrance was too little too late for the red half of Liverpool, but what it has done is instill confidence for next season. A fresh start looms, a future devoid of a Torres/Hodgson hangover, and packed to the brim with hope and excitement.

The Scot has somehow managed to breath life in to players that were lackluster at the beginning of the season. The likes of Raul Meireles, Dirk Kuyt and, the newly resurgent, Maxi Rodriguez have all thrived under their new gaffer. Though Meireles’ form has somewhat dipped, Kuyt and Maxi have been in fine scoring form and are enjoying the kind of chances that a big man in the shape of Andy Carroll brings to a team. Diving in from deep to tap in knock downs, deflected efforts and penalties, the pair act as vulture like scavengers, picking the pieces out of opposition defences.

New owner, John Henry, has quite clearly shown his intent to bring Liverpool back to the top of the British game with marquee signings such as the rampant Luis Suarez and the ever promising Andy Carroll. Spending over £50 million on transfer deadline day in January, Liverpool sent a message to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, proving their financial power.

Yet, not all is rosy in Liverpool as it stands. The recent 2-0 loss to Tottenham was a blow to a Dalglish team that should see Spurs as their main rivals this season, but perhaps not next. Glaring gaps are evident in the Liverpool defence that is devoid of any real central defensive force. Carragher has lost what little spark her ever had, no longer is he able to cover for his lack of pace with sheer passion, he will surely need replacing over the summer. The same goes for both Skrtel and Agger, though both capable enough, neither are of the caliber  necessary to progress the team forward, potentially resulting in  the introduction of the likes of Phil Jones of Blackburn, or Cahill of Bolton, if we are to believe the back pages.

Another key area that Dalglish must address in the summer is width. Without the presence of any real winger, Anfield has been lacking any real attacking force down the flanks from the midfield area. Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly, when fit, have shown  genuine attacking threat from behind, but the touted introductions of Frenchman, Eden Hazard, or perhaps Ashley Young would give them more options.

The Liverpool boss has proven himself adept at finding talent from inside the club too, bleeding the likes of Flanagan, Spearing and Shelvey. Not only meaning Liverpool are well within their Home Grown quota, bleeding youth enables a larger squad than the sanctioned 25 men. In a kind of reversal of Wenger’s tactics at Arsenal, Dalglish found himself with a squad of experienced players and sought to inject academy youth, those under 21 not needing to be registered of course.

So this season was a lost cause from the second he arrived, though what Dalglish has achieved has given fans new hope of an exciting future. Youth, wealth and a Kop hero have combined this season to put Liverpool in a more familiar position with one game still to play. Next season promises a lot more from a team hurt by the loss of their title winning record, intent on returning their pride and status in English football. If you pop down to Anfield now you’ll find Kenny standing outside its gates with an arm around Maxi, looking into the sunset of the 2010-11 season, chucking ‘this time next year, Rodders…’

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