On Saturday afternoon Liverpool saw off Man United in the F.A cup, a 2-1 win at Anfield meaning they had knocked out two Manchester teams from two competitions in the space of a week. There was no doubt Liverpool deserved the result, particularly in part down to Dalglish's tactical acumen, his second half chages turned the game around when it seemed United were dead certs to take the lead.
However scratch away at the headline grabbing wins against 'big' teams you can't help but feel that either Dalglish is being given an easy ride from misty eyed reporters filled with memories of yesteryear, or simply he is never criticised as people just don't expect as much from Liverpool as they used to. A Carling Cup final and good F.A Cup result in no way make up for failure to even qualify for the Europa League last year, or the clubs average performance in this years Premier League so far.
If we look at his dealings in the transfer market it becomes clear the King isn't opposed to spending a princley some when he sees fit, and has assembled one of the most oddly expensive teams in the Premier League. Four signings - Luis Suarez £22 Million, Andy Carrol £35 million, Jordan Hendersen £20 milllion and Stewart Downing £22 Million - immedately leap off the page, altogether Kenny barely got change out of £100 million. To put that in perspective the combined cost of both Arsenal and Spurs' two strongest elevens is £117 million (£66 mill for the former and an impressive £51 mill the latter). Out of the aforementioned four Liverpool signings only Suarez is a real success story, his pace, trickery and movement making him a genuine livewire anytime he steps on to the pitch. Andy Carrol has received much criticism from the public and media alike for failing to live up to his billing, and yet the man who decided the spend £35 million on a striker who makes Jan Koller look nimble, £22 million on a guy who seemingly cannot cross and £20 million on a man whos only skill seems to be with a comb, has escaped unscathed.
One of the oldest, most repeated and worn out adages in football is simply the table does not lie, and to be honest it doesn't. The best team is at the top, the worst team is at the bottom and at the end of the year clubs finsih where they deserved to (except for Serie A, feel costless to post your own jokes about match fixing below). At present, after 22 games played Chelsea are 4th with 41 points, Arsenal 5th on 36 points and Liverpool 7th on 35. Not a week goes by without a journalist (usually Stephen Howard from The Sun), peddling out the easiest of articles to write, an attack on Arsene Wenger, usually detailing the teams under achievement, poor defensive displays and lack of transfer activity. Likewise Andres Villas Boas is fast becoming public enemy number one with the English press, his bullish manner in dealing with criticism and disappointing fact he is not Mourinho likely responsible. Yet, while Wenger is urged from all sides to quit and AVB is the victim of relentless speculation about the security of his position Kenny Dalglish is sitting pretty with his crown at a jaunty angle, a sceptor in one hand and what I can only imagine is a superinjunction against all negative stories about himself in the other.
Arsenal had a truly abhorrent start to the season, of that every man and his dog is certain. A few purchases here, a good run of results there and soon they had climbed back up the table. However with a defense held together by chewing gum and the crossed fingers of 60,000 gooners the form was always going to be temporary, and alas with 10 players out through injury, including every recognised (and unrecognised in some cases) full back, the club has slumped to three losses in a row and again the mob is calling for Wengers head. Chelsea have had a different season altogether, while Arsenal have been up and down like the Big One at Blackpool Andre Villas Boas and his boys in blue are more akin to the stop-start of a young man during his first driving lesson. Where as Arsenal self destruct in a manner you don't want to see but can't look away from, Chelsea have peppered their losses generously throughout the campaign, preventing them from ever getting a real head of steam going but not enough to real deem them to be in trouble. However in spite of all the criticism aimed at these managers, and all the attention paid to their teams every result, the simple fact is both Chelsea and Arsenal are above Liverpool in the league table. This entire season I have seen 2 articles that were about Kenny Dalglish underperforming as manager at Liverpool...I've read more claiming Arsene Wenger should be sacked today alone. Even rather large errors of judgement on his part are quickly swept under the carpet, the shirts with Suarez's face on after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra and then yesterdays dismissal of crowd chanting, including monkey impressions, from fans as 'banter' would have drawn much more criticism had they been the actions of anyoe else you have to feel.
The real question is why? why does article after article implore Wenger to spend to prevent Arsenal experiencing an exodus of stars and collapsing into mid table mediocrity and why does journalist after journalist decry Villas Boas for under achieving and question his future at the club when a man who has spent more, and is doing worse than both of these rarely gets a bad word said against him. The fact Wenger has gone 7 years without a trophy may have something to do with it, but in the here and now he is doing better with his team than Dalgish is doing with his, and on a significantly reduced budget - the media hounds should respect that. Personally I feel it is down to what is quite clearly an inherent Liverpool-bias in much of the media, with many writers fans of the reds or Kenny himself when growing up and both ruled the roost of English football. It only takes one look at a common line-up on Match of the Day 2 consisting of Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen and Colin Murray to perhaps begin feeling there is substance behind the idea that the English media is less than objective when it comes to the man they deem 'The King'. For all the Liverpool fans chomping at the bit to tell me about beating Arsenal at the Emirates, knocking Man United out the cup and any other single achievement during his reign the truth is; while he has created a good cup team due to their propensity to perform in big games, just look at the Premier League table, and is it good enough? or should Dalglish start feeling some of the pressure that is being aimed at the man above him in the league with the team costing less than half the price?