Time to get tough...
After a summer of considerable investment on several new players, riding on the wave of optimism brought about by the immediate impact of the appointment of King Kenny Dalglish, expectation for the new season among Kopites was understandably high. So it's difficult to find the right words after results like today's against Swansea, even more so when there has been a run of dire performances and results like those of the last few weeks.
Though Liverpool have picked up important wins on the road at West Bromwich Albion and more importantly at Goodison Park against Everton, the performances have been less than impressive, with lady luck being very much on our side. For a club that has serious European aspirations this season, losing points against Swansea, Norwich and Sunderland at home, as well as games that should have been won - Stoke being the notable example - because we cannot score goals is difficult to digest, especially when there are so many players in the squad that should be proving the opposite.
What is even harder to digest is that with those points in the bag, Liverpool would now be sitting in second place. The only teams with a worse scoring record in the top half of the table are Stoke and today's visitors, Swansea, while even Norwich have scored more.
With almost a third of the season over (and after upcoming games against Chelsea and Manchester City, it will be more than a third) the Liverpool players should be looking at Newcastle United and asking themselves the question, "why isn't that us?". While the solution may not be quite so obvious, to me the answer is simple. With the exception of Luis Suarez and Jose Enriqué (who must be wondering if this is some kind of weird fate), the new signings have yet to deliver.
What is of concern is that the players seem to love talking to the media, nearly every week, about how good things are, how they expect to score many goals, how they will beat certain teams etc. etc. etc. While these players have been talking a good game, they have not been delivering one. In stark contrast, Newcastle have been doing rather than talking.
Kenny Dalglish needs to place a ban on all players talking to the press. They need to be told to "shut up and put up". The only time a player should be talking to the media is after a game, IF they have played a significant role in that game. And by the results of weeks gone by, there shouldn't be much of that. If a player wants to see their name in the press, they should be made to earn it.
Similarly, it is my belief that Kenny Dalglish, as of today, needs to take a bit more of a hard line stance with the players. We don't know what goes on in the dressing room (and rightly so) and he may well give the "hair dryer treatment" to players at times, but praising all of the players in the media when most of them are certainly not deserving at the moment, cannot be productive. A policy of not saying anything may serve better in my humble opinion.
It may be unfair to single out certain players, but while Jordan Henderson (still very young) and Andy Carroll (still finding his feet (literally!)) can be given the benefit of the doubt for a few more games, the same cannot be said of Stewart Downing. Downing has more than enough Premier League and International experience to have "hit the ground running" and should have delivered much more than he has so far. No goals and no assists in 11 starts is just not acceptable from a player of Stewart Downing's caliber. Perhaps a run in the side for Craig Bellamy may be a better option for the games against Chelsea and Manchester City.
Finally, whether it's during the January transfer window or before the start of next season, Liverpool need to purchase another world class striker and midfielder.
Meanwhile the performances of Swansea and Norwich against Liverpool and the current position of Newcastle, must serve as an indicator to the whole Liverpool squad as to just what they could and should be achieving and how badly the opportunity to close the gap on Manchester United is being wasted.