Liverpool FC: 5 Things Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool Learnt from Fulham Defeat
Liverpool near the crucial Christmas period in familiar territory as in past seasons. They are a long way off the pace set by the leader of the league and an assault on the title is again a pipe dream. The only target left is a place in European football, unfortunately it is the usual story.
Liverpool have made significant strides, as a club, squad and team, in the time since the new owners entered the fray and since Dalglish took over; one cannot say that this is not the case.
However, there is one thing that the Reds cannot shake off and that is the tag of inconsistency.
Liverpool have been dogged by this for many seasons and it seems to follow them around like an annoying fly. At times, it feels like this fly has finally buzzed off, only for it to come buzzing back.
Dalglish does have a squad that should be capable of ending up in the top six and even quite possibly the top four. But slip ups against teams that should be dispatched will not help the cause.
Here are five things that we have come to realise prior to, during and following this defeat at Fulham.
1. Jamie Carragher Is No Longer a First Choice Central Defender
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Jamie Carragher (Mr. Liverpool) has finally reached the point in his career for the Reds where he is no longer the first choice central defender.
Last night, the starting pair were Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, with Carragher on the bench. What is also significant is that Sebastian Coates was also on the bench and represents Liverpool's future.
Liverpool's No. 23 is a realist and also knows that he is talked of more in the past tense than in the present tense, and less so in the future tense these days.
Carragher's heart is the Liverpool club crest and if his chest were to be cut open they would find the Liverbird in there pumping his blood around. The man from Bootle is the first to say that he is ready to make any sacrifice that is the best for the club.
Last night, as for some games now, Carragher is fit but rather than be drafted straight back into the side, he sits on the bench.
Fans have realised and more importantly the man himself has, and accepted that he is no longer Liverpool's first choice defender.
This acceptance must hurt a man who wears his Liverpool jersey with the pride that Carragher does, but he above all others knows that it is not about him, but about Liverpool Football Club.
Jamie Carragher, Mr. Liverpool.
2. Liverpool Missed the Presence of Lucas in Midfield
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Lucas, the man that so many fans and pundits had all but written off, has developed and matured into the rock and foundation of Liverpool's new-look midfield.
Much has been written about how much he will be missed due to the injury that has rendered him unavailable for the remainder of the season, and last night this was all the more evident.
Jay Spearing was drafted in to replace the influential Brazilian and lasted for 72 minutes before being sent off for a challenge that saw him win the ball cleanly, but the follow through was deemed violent and dangerous.
Whether the red card was warranted or not, is up for debate, but the fact remains that up until that point, Liverpool looked like they could have gone on to win the game.
Lucas is tenacious and dogged in the tackle and at times can be rash, but his maturity and experience usually wins through. This was missing last night from Spearing's play.
It is not completely his fault, he is young and can only gain experience if given the chance to. But be that as it may, the calm head of our Brazilian midfield enforcer was sorely missed last night.
Kenny Dalglish thought that the replacement for Lucas was Spearing, but he will have to think again as the youngster will be serving a lengthy ban.
3. Jordan Henderson Needs to Play in Central Midfield
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Following the injury to Lucas, Kenny Dalglish decided that he would be replaced in his central midfield position by Jay Spearing.
Jordan Henderson was overlooked for this position, despite it being where he plays when playing for England U21s. Moreover, it is undoubtedly where he is most effective.
Playing in a wide midfield role is not getting the most out of Henderson, he looks uncomfortable and unsure, whereas when he drifts infield, there is a drastic difference in his play.
A natural central midfielder and a possible class-act in the making, Henderson should have been slotted into the gap left by Lucas.
Dalglish surely does not see him as a wide midfielder in the long run and so therefore should move him into the role where he does see him, sooner rather than later.
It is feared that the longer Henderson is left out wide, the lower his confidence will become and the less effective he will be. We don't want to see him end up on the bench with a tag of "expensive failure" around his neck.
If fair is fair, then Dalglish needs to play him in central midfield before this eventuality occurs, and with the injury to Lucas, he had the ideal chance. Now with the suspension to Spearing, he has been given another sign of what the right thing to do would be.
4. Maxi Should Have Played Some Part in the Game
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
For a player that Kenny Dalglish is having trouble keeping on the bench and is tempted to play in every game, Maxi was conspicuously absent from a match in which last season he was a hat-trick hero.
Maxi has been in great scoring form, with 10 goals in his last nine outings. Surely this warranted a stating lineup call or even an appearance as a substitute.
Dalglish has heaped praise on the former Argentine star and heralded him as an intelligent player, yet when it came to his starting line up, Maxi was sitting on the bench.
Players in form should start, wherever possible, or at least contribute in some form during the match.
Maxi would have been disappointed not to have started nor play any part, especially when the Reds were in need of a goal and Maxi has not been short of those recently.
5. Sometimes a Point Is Enough
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Liverpool played well enough yesterday to have gained all three points, but for the sending off of Jay Spearing and an error by the usually reliable Pepe Reina, the Reds would probably have gone on to win.
At the point when the red card was shown to Spearing, Liverpool were pushing for the first goal and seemed to be on top.
Once the Reds went down to 10 men, the balance of the game changed. It was further altered when Dalglish made his changes following Spearing's dismissal.
Many fans were surprised to see the manager throw on Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing and push on for the win, despite being a man short.
A brave move indeed. Or was it foolhardy?
Should Dalglish have been more careful and shored up his midfield and looked to get an away point, given the circumstances?
Even if he made one attacking and one defensive change, that might have made more sense; but an all-out attack seemed a little gung-ho, when maybe what was needed was a little less adventure.
One could applaud Dalglish's endeavors, in looking for all three points, one could also criticize him for playing the game completely from the heart rather than more from the mind, which was perhaps what was required at that point in the match.
It may have been better advised to preserve Liverpool's unbeaten run, collected the point and lived to fight another day.