Dirk Kuyt's imaginary ring has certainly been lonely this season
After waiting longer than the line-up for the women's bathroom, Dirk Kuyt has miraculously bagged two goals in as many games for Liverpool. Up until this point there have been many calls from fans to sell the Dutchman, but these voices have been silent in the emotional aftermath of Manchester United's elimination from the FA Cup. At the end of the day an emotional manager will not win any trophies, but Kuyt remains a Red and will be for the foreseeable future.
Now I have already laid out my arguments on the pros and cons of attempting to sell the "striker," the end result being that he will not generate enough money to compensate for the lack of cover his departure would herald. My opinion hasn't changed, but in the light of recent events I feel it's important to take a look at the Kuyt argument from a new angle.
No. 18's goal against Manchester United came down to three factors: Pepe Reina's vision, Andy Carroll finally having someone to feast on his very capable "knocking down" ability and David De Gea's fragile mental state. Kuyt's "cherry on the cake" against an abysmal Wolves side was down to a lackluster defense, some neat passing and ultimately a well-struck shot from a difficult angle.
In fact, the angles on each goal were remarkably similar in that they came from the right of the goal.
Kuyt's winner against United should have been snuffed out by Patrice Evra and ultimately saved by De Gea if he had been able to concentrate. The Dutchman was in a good position, his finish was crisp, but no matter how sweet the feeling was at the end of the day, the goal was an opportunistic one. The strike against Wolves was from an even tighter angle and I expected Wayne Hennessey to do better, but this a bonus on an absolute mauling, the first Liverpool have put on all season.
Do you believe that Dirk Kuyt is still an asset to this Liverpool squad?
Goals are a striker's bread and butter, but Kuyt is not the striker Liverpool need to back up Carroll and Luis Suarez, rather an "outside" attacker without the pace of Craig Bellamy but with industry, mental sharpness and a few neat touches here and there. I don't expect this goal glut to continue but will be more than happy to be proven wrong.
Next Monday Liverpool entertain fellow Champions League contenders Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield—a European six-pointer, if you will. Kenny Dalglish will once again be able to call upon his royal nastiness Luis Suarez, and therefore Kuyt should see an end to his brief stint as a center forward. It remains to be seen if the Dutchman will be involved against Spurs, but any game time will be spent out on the right flank instead of in the middle.
Herein lies the key to this affair. Dirk Kuyt is not good enough to be Liverpool's central attacking focal point, that much is known. However, he can still make a case for inclusion in his Rafa Benitez role out on the right as a tireless locomotive, attacking and defending with equal verve. Whether he starts ahead of anyone else is up to Dalglish.
Kuyt was never going to be flogged in January, and the only way he'll be sold in the summer is if he engineers a move himself in search of first-team football. As long as he is satisfied with his role at Anfield he will never be a mechanism to raise funds for additional transfers simply because nobody will pay a decent amount for his services.
One of the reasons Liverpool fans get on Kuyt's back is that he is either playing in the place of a better striker (for numerous reasons) or he is brought on late in a game we are chasing. In both cases we expect goals from the man, but his game is not based around scoring goals but instead around improving the overall attacking potency as well as shoring up defensively on the right flank. Seeing No. 18 flash up on that substitute's board is often met with a gnashing of teeth, but this frustration should be blamed on the side's inability to produce, not Kuyt's lack of goal-scoring ability.
This effect was seen on many occasions and could really be labelled the "Xabi Alonso vacuum," as Lucas Leiva was weighed down with expectations he'd fill the void left by one of the world's best midfielders.
Whatever happens this summer, Dirk Kuyt has already written himself into Liverpool lore with that hat-trick against Manchester United, a feat that is surely the easiest path to any Scouser's heart. At no point has he ever been selfish, money-grubbing or scheming to get more money, which is a rarity in this modern world of talent mercenaries.