As the feel good factor continues to rise with every passing week, Liverpool's fans are looking foward to next season with heightened optimism that under Kenny Dalglish, the club has finally retaken its identity both on and off the field.
My sole beef with the new owners was the extra weeks they gave to the failure that was Roy Hodgson; or maybe that beef should be with whoever was advising them. I maintained back in Dec. (and still do) that under Dalglish, we would have moved from the relegation zone to the Top 4.
It's not officially a beef as yet Mr. Henry, but like many others, I'm wondering what exactly is holding back the confirmation of Dalglish & Clarke's new contracts.
The odds now are that we'll run out of track before we catch Man. City, but I think fifth is in the bag. It will be interesting to see how the media that have been fawning about Spurs' "great season" and Liverpool's "disastrous" one spin the fact that at the end, Liverpool finishes ahead of Spurs.
The fact that this end-of-season run coincided with the absence (for most of it) of Gerrard, Carroll, Agger, Johnson, Aurelio & Kelly is the most heartening for the club's supporters however.
For years, Liverpool was called a one-man team (i.e. Gerrard), then a two-man team (Gerrard/Torres), and unfortunately, the team didn't always do much to disprove that theory. The last couple of months should ensure that those particular terms are no longer used.
The reason for this is, for all intents and purposes, is primarily down to one man: Kenny Dalglish (ably assisted by Steve Clarke). Apart from the obvious on-field improvements, the players are playing with smiles, confidence, camaraderie, and at times (like against Birmingham) with some style. In other words, they're playing like Liverpool players; something that hasn't been evident for most of the last two seasons. This is down to Dalglish.
It is also unlikely that any of our last three managers would have been willing to start three recent Academy players in a League game, or have as much as three teenagers on the field at the end of an Arsenal Away League game. This is down to Kenny Dalglish, as talking about promising players is one thing: throwing them in at the deep end is another.
This brings us back to this article's title. Under Hodgson, as well as his allies in the national press, the oft-repeated spin was how poor this Liverpool team was, maybe the worst in 50 years etc. The team may have had the worst start in 50+ years, but as we can see now, that obviously wasn't because the squad was the worse in 50 years, but that we had the worst Liverpool Manager in....well ever.
This is not to say that the squad doesn't need additions (and subtractions). The depth that hasn't always been there should be ok, once it continues to be complemented by the Academy players, so for a change this summer, the club should look to quality more than quantity.
Some sites have speculated on perhaps one or two big-money acquisitions to go along with the two acquired last January. This would be a welcome change. The club doesn't need another half-dozen $5M - $10M players, when there could actually be better than that available at the club already. As usual, I won't throw around names, but the main areas would seem to be one or two specialist wide men, a LB & CB.
We messed up the last two summers we finished strongly (2nd in 2002 & 2009). We won't be coming second this season, but it's another strong finish. The difference this time is that the staff structure from top to bottom seems better, and we have Sir Kenny Dalglish back now to make sure the Cheyrous & Dioufs of this world stay well clear.