Monday, May 23, 2011

Revitilised Liverpool Ready To Start Challenging Again

January 8th, 2011. Roy Hodgson's just been given the boot by the Liverpool board after guiding them to within four points of relegation and is immediately replaced by Merseyside legend 'King' Kenny Dalglish. His first game is an almost impossible task away to Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup. Things don't go according to plan and a first-minute penalty was enough to see United through although they were somewhat helped by the harsh sending off of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard. Dalglish had only been in-charge for the best part of a day and somehow he managed to already better the job previously done by Hodgson. Not many fans knew this would signal the start of a revival from the Reds but with King Kenny at the helm anything is possible.

It took time for Dalglish to finally feel at home again at Liverpool but when those Reds hit form there were no stopping them. The results that followed that narrow defeat away to United was an unforeseen defeat at Anfield by relegation threatened Blackpool and then they were held at Goodison in a four-goal thriller. The next game against Wolves initialised the upward curve in Liverpool's season. They were magnificent, Fernando Torres specifically, as they cruised to a 0-3 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers. After that it was another win, this time facing off against Fulham. Then it was Stoke, the game to which Luis Suarez opened his Liverpool account and after that it was Chelsea who arrived to town, looking to catch United at the top. A Raul Meireles goal midway through the second-half decided the fixture and Liverpool were on a run of five wins in their last six. They were rapidly propelling up the Premier League table and in a matter of three or four matches they were back challenging for a place in Europe. It was very much down to the man of the moment Kenny Dalglish. The man who led the Merseyside club to an incredible seven league titles, as well as three European cups and five domestic cups. The King was back, but could he keep up the form that had been long overdue for the Reds?

The answer was yes and FSG rewarded him - as well as first-team coach Steve Clark - with a new three-year deal keeping him at the club until 2014. On the last day of the season Liverpool were facing stiff competition from European rivals Tottenham for that much coveted 5th place. Liverpool travelled to the Midlands to do battle with Aston Villa while Tottenham were at home entertaining relegation threatened Birmingham. Spurs began the day with a one-point lead over the Merseysiders and by the end of the day the Londoners retained their Europa spot with a hard-fought 2-1 win over relegated Birmingham.

So King Kenny's Liverpool failed to qualify for a European competition, so what? Dalglish took on a hell of a job when accepting the proposal and the initial aim was to get as far up the table as he could, and he did just what the doctor ordered. Giving first-team debut's to youth academy graduates such as young John Flanagan and Martin Kelly prove that Liverpool have more than enough to contend at the highest level even without influential skipper Steven Gerrard as he'd been out for long periods of the season.

 This revitalised Liverpool team look European worthy now thanks to Kenny's return and with a Summer of recruiting ahead of them, next season promises to be an exciting one, whether they contend for the Europa League, Champions League or the title.

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