What a difference a new manager can make to a football team. If the season had started when Kenny Dalglish took over In January only Chelsea would have more points than Liverpool.
The last four games will have been very enjoyable for Liverpool fans, the draw with Arsenal and wins over Manchester City, Birmingham and Newcastle. Twelve goals scored and only one conceded. The standard of the performances in this period provides great encouragement as thoughts begin to turn to next season.
The team plays with much more pace and movement now than under the previous management but in order to produce the pass and move football Liverpool fans expect two unsung heroes have emerged, the central midfield pairing of Lucas Leiva and Jay Sparing.
When Dalglish first took over he was willing to start Spearing, a young bit part player for the last few seasons and a product of the youth academy. He started in two started in two of the biggest games of the season, at home to bitter rivals Man United and Everton. In my mind Spearing was the “victim” of affirmative action or “reverse racism”, getting to play for Liverpool because he’s a scouser and would give more heart in the local slugfests compared to those fancy-dan foreigners.
Now my opinion of him has changed, just like the views held by other fans for the much maligned Lucas. I was sick of defending Lucas but this season I think he has won his sceptics over and the club have given him a new long-term contract and he’s a regular in the Brazil team.
Lucas and Spearing have been the foundation for the attacking drive of Meireles, Kuyt, Suarez et al. Sitting in front of the back four Spearings’ tremendous work-rate, covering the space of the forward moving full-backs, and tenacity in the tackle is the perfect spoil to Lucas’ holding the centre and quick distribution to the attacking-minded players.
The team’s lack of wingers is made-up for with the inter-play and switching of positions by the full-backs and the attacking quartet. It may be an overstatement but it’s almost like watching the Dutch total football of the 70s. Is it just a coincidence that Dirk Kuyt has been in his best form ever for Liverpool?
It’s definitely the Liverpool way and hopefully with a few big signings in the summer Liverpool will be picking up more points than Man United and Chelsea. The biggest signing is now just a formality, King Kenny been appointed permanent manager.