Football Expert & Columnist
Steady, as he goes
Kenny Dalglish is making progress with Liverpool despite what the critics say, insists Jamie Redknapp.
Last Updated: 28/05/12 9:30am
There is no doubt in mind that Kenny Dalglish is the right man for Liverpool, but I just hope people give him the time to prove it.
He's come under increasing pressure in the last few weeks after some bad results for the club, but I think it's important we put this poor run and Liverpool's achievements this year, and as a whole in recent seasons, into perspective.
At the start of the campaign Liverpool were in with a shout of winning three trophies this season; they've won the Carling Cup already and are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
And if they finish the season with a cup double we will all be saying what a great campaign it has been for a club that had gone six years without any silverware before their Wembley win against Cardiff last month.
That's not to say that their league form can be ignored. They currently sit seventh in the table, eight points behind Newcastle, who haven't spent the money that Liverpool have, but have done brilliantly recruiting players like Cheik Tiote, Yohann Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba.
Being that far behind them has really put the pressure on Kenny, but I totally disagree with those who are blaming his tactics for the team's form and the fact that he'd been out of the game for 10 years before returning last year. It's not as though Liverpool were fighting for the title consistently before he came in.
He signed me as a 17-year-old so I have a massive amount of respect for him, but I honestly believe he will prove to be the right man for the club, even if it has been difficult so far.
There are eight Premier League games remaining and he will demand everything from his team, while there are a few players who are playing for their Anfield futures.
It's the first season for a lot of them and they'll realise that they have to produce every week, not every other, because of the high standards at this club and that's where I think a lot of them have fallen short.
It also looks like a lot of the players have thought to themselves: 'Okay, we've won a trophy, now we can relax until the end of the season'.
When I was playing for Liverpool we won the League Cup in 1995 under Roy Evans and we did a similar thing. There were a lot of young players in that side and we switched off towards the end and it can cost you.
You can't pick and choose which games you're going to perform in, football doesn't work like that. You have to keep that level and intensity up, but the performances of some players have just dropped a bit, which has resulted in two really poor back-to-back defeats against QPR and, in particular, against Wigan, which was a shocker.
That's no disrespect to Roberto Martinez's men, but Liverpool shouldn't be losing to Wigan at home. A lot of managers come out and protect their players after results like that and that's what Kenny has done, but there has to come a time when you say: 'That's simply not good enough', and players like Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have to do better next term.
It's by no means a lack of effort on their part, though. People sometimes assume that if footballers aren't playing well it's because they're not working hard enough, but often it can be the complete opposite; you can try too hard sometimes.
I've been in situations where things that you usually do well aren't quite working for you, and that results in you losing a little bit of confidence and belief and once the fans get anxious it transmits to the players.
And then all of a sudden you lose the courage to maybe take the risk of playing a good positive pass in favour of a safe one, which is exactly what they're doing at the moment.
A good result at Newcastle on Sunday, however, could get them out of this poor run, but that will be easier said than done because Alan Pardew's men are playing some great stuff at the moment.
Their first-half performance against West Brom last week was the best I've seen from an away side this season. They had a good shape to them with a midfield three of Danny Gutherie, Jonas Gutierrez and Cabaye and a front three of Ba, Hatem ben Arfa, and Cisse who were given license to thrill, which is exactly what they did!
They counter-attacked with so much pace and every time they got on the ball you just felt like something was going to happen. I was so impressed with them and the overall team performance.
The only negative to come out of the game was the hamstring injury picked up by Fabricio Coloccini, because with the threat of Luis Suarez, Newcastle would be desperate to have him at the heart of their defence where he has been magnificent this season.
I think James Perch will come take his place and he and Mike Williamson will have to keep it really tight at the back or Liverpool will punish them, but their opposite numbers will be in for an equally tough day.
In Ba and Cisse, Newcastle have a real handful partnership up front and Liverpool's centre-backs will know they've been in a proper game afterwards.
They're both so powerful and are happy going direct, but they can also play and when Ben Arfa is on form he is as exciting a player as anyone in the Premier League.Unfortunately for Newcastle and Alan Pardew he's a bit of an enigma, but there's no doubt he's got ability.
It's setup to be a cracking game and I think the absence of Coloccini could be pivotal, which is why I see it ending all square at St James' Park.
A win for Newcastle, however, would virtually guarantee them European football next season and that would be one of the year's success stories.