Liverpool FC: QPR Defeat Shows Kenny Dalglish Can't Take Reds Forward
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The Anfield side were 2-0 up at Loftus Road, but succumbed to a spirited fightback from the hosts, who scored three goals in the last 15 minutes to secure a famous, and vital, Premier League victory.
It was a performance from Liverpool that epitomised their season under 'King Kenny'.
The Reds can be a great team when battling as the underdogs, but as soon as they become the hunted and not the hunters, they bottle it.
For as much as Kenny Dalglish was a born winner—winning three league titles and two FA Cups in his first stint with Liverpool as a player-manager—he currently seems unable to get his team stamping their authority in matches.
Compared to Manchester United, Manchester City and even their rivals for those last two UEFA Champions League spots—Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur—Liverpool seem a side who much prefer the underdog tag and can't cope with being one of the big boys.
In that Premier League defeat to QPR—their fifth of the season against sides ranked below them—it was clear in every one of the goals Liverpool conceded that they struggled with the increased onslaught from the hosts and the lack of respect they were suddenly showing their more highly regarded opposition.
For Shaun Derry's effort to bring the game back to 2-1, the two Reds defenders marking him seemed fazed by his strong presence and posed no aerial threat to deny the midfielder a header on goal.
Is Kenny Dalglish The Right Man For Liverpool?
When former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse then equalised for QPR, again Liverpool's defence was in disarray, with Martin Skrtel—considered one of the Premier League's best centre-backs—unable to even get close to Cisse, let alone challenge him aerially and try to prevent the hosts scoring another headed goal inside the penalty area.
And for Jamie Mackie's winner, such was the attention of the defence on other players potentially surging forward, nobody remembered to mark the winger, who following Jose Enrique's nervous and failed attempt to clear the ball was afforded enough space to have a one-on-one with Jose Reina and slot the ball in past the Spanish goalkeeper.
In those final 15 minutes, it appeared that Liverpool capitulated under the sudden pressure they faced from their hosts—who up until that point had shown the Reds time and respect on the ball.
And it's that inability to cope with the fired-up pressure from the lower sides—who want to get a big win over one of the league's top-dogs—which has hurt Liverpool most this season.
Along with their five defeats to lower ranked sides, Dalglish's men have also drawn six times against teams below them in the league table—with five of those six being at Anfield, where Liverpool really are expected to win.
So it's clear that unless a change in that trend develops soon, the Reds seemingly won't be progressing much further under Kenny Dalglish.
Of course they are doing well in the cup competitions, with a place in the FA Cup semifinal and a League Cup title win (and thus a place in next season's UEFA Europa League) to show for their season.
But they were very lucky to win that League Cup trophy at Wembley, with Championship side Cardiff City taking them all the way to penalties—again proving how they struggle as favourites.
And despite their cup success, it's Champions League football and Premier League titles which are most important if Liverpool are to progress as a club.
After all, that's what makes a club prestigious, and is what it takes to be considered as one of the sport's elite teams.
Also, in terms of the huge investment made by principal owner John W. Henry and his Fenway Sports Group, to see a return on the large sums invested, earning the massive revenue from Champions League football is a must.
While Dalglish is in charge, a return to Champions League football seems highly unlikely.
The 61-year-old is a good tactician, a great motivator and a brilliant communicator, but he seems to completely lack the ability to instill into his players the arrogance, panache, self-belief and winning mentality combined that sees top teams and top players assert their authority over the weaker sides, and prove their worth as one of the best in the game.
So for the Reds to progress to the next stage in their development under the new owners—and start making a name for themselves again in the Premier League and Champions League—it could be time, at the end of the season, for the Liverpool legend to gracefully step down from his role in the Reds hot seat.
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