Dalglish Deserves Some Blame For Liverpool's Inability To Score Goals

Dalglish Deserves Some Blame For Liverpool's Inability To Score Goals

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Liverpool have scored just 24 league goals this season, barely more than a goal a game. This low goal scoring total means that Bolton, Norwich and an effectively striker-less Sunderland have all scored more than Liverpool, a side who spent almost £60 million since last January bringing in forwards in the shape of Bellamy, Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Dalglish has pointed at bad luck being the main factor behind Liverpool’s attacking impotence. Liverpool do have the fourth highest shots per game in the league, but out of their 18 chances a game they only manage 5.7 efforts on target. Liverpool’s lack of attacking potency has led to them drawing 8 games, only Villa have drawn more this season.

In the context of their big spend on forwards as well as on midfielders, Adam, Downing and Henderson, there is surely no excuse for their sides inability to convert chances into goals. It is surprising to read that of their 24 goals, only 11 of them have been from open play, with 8 being from free kicks, 1 a penalty and 3 own goals.

The 0-0 draw played out with Stoke was a clear example of the problems facing Liverpool right now.  Suarez has been a dynamic presence and of course will be missed whilst suspended but in reality he has been nowhere near as good as some would have you believe. Suarez in 18 appearances in the league he has only scored 5 goals, hardly prolific, and contributed a meager 1 assist. There are 31 players in the EPL who have scored more than him this season.

Dalgish signings

The main problem with his ban is that Carroll is not firing either. With him forming the base of the attacks he needs to find form. Funnily enough Liverpool seems like the ideal place for Carroll to play as they adopt a direct approach playing more crosses per game than any other side. Against Stoke Kuyt was picked instead of Carroll to lead the line which implies Dalglish is losing patience with Carroll.

In essence the signings made by Dalglish just haven’t hit form. Stuart Downing, a £20 million winger, has yet to score a goal, compare that with England rival Adam Johnson, playing less regularly, who has scored 5. Downing’s record makes dismal reading, lauded by many, but he has scored zero goals and got zero assists from 21 league games this season.

Downings form is indicative of a wider problem at Liverpool a real lack of goal scoring midfielders. Although the return of Steven Gerrard has certainly been timely. Think Football have previously noted how Gerrard’s return may cause a tactical headache for Dalglish but his dynamism will be welcome for a side that lack any real flair at the moment.

Whilst it seems likely that Henderson was brought for the future he has yet to hit the heights for the club and Dalglish seems unsure whether to play him as a winger or as a centre-midfielder. A box-to-box midfielder traditionally he has only one goal and one assist this season in 21 appearances.

One point of note is that last season a key performer was Raul Meireles who scored five goals for the club and was voted player of the season by ESPN, above the likes of Rooney and Parker. Meireles was used in a box-to-box capacity that was key to Liverpool’s survival last term. The spark he provided was most obviously displayed as the club beat Arsenal 2-0 earlier this season with Meireles coming off the bench to be involved in both goals.

Tactical failing

Strikers are not solely to blame for the clubs inability to score goals. Dalglish must shoulder some of the blame, firstly for poor signings and secondly for tactical reasons. One factor is his inability to stick with a pairing up front. Many observers felt Suarez and Carroll were signed to complement each other but the pair rarely play together from the start of games so have yet to form a partnership.

As well as this tactics are on the face of it somewhat negative despite the chances on goal, many of which are from outside of the area. Dalglish often looks to play a more defensive 4-5-1 even with the, theoretically, expansive Charlie Adam plays a slightly more subdued holding role. His form has also not been great since his move, his pass completion is only just over 80%, and whilst he has four assists he does take set pieces.

One reason for this is that the loss of Lucas Leiva prompted Adam to play a more responsible midfield role. Perhaps if Leiva was still fit Adam would be allowed more freedom to get forward and create chances as was his role at Blackpool. Of course Dalglish could not predict the injury to Leiva but he should have hedged his bets by signing another holding player. Dalglish signed three midfielders in the summer but did not sign one holding player which means in the absence of Lucas Dalglish has to re-jig his sides formation.

For Liverpool finishing in the top four will simply not happen unless they score more goals. Buying players seems unlikely especially with the investment that has taken place under Dalglish. The answer could lie in increasing the playing time of Bellamy who has four goals in his five starts for the club (15 apps including subs) Not a natural winger but he could play wide on the right or in support of Carroll.

The tactics employed by Dalglish against Stoke were typical of this. A perplexing 3-6-1 formation with Kuyt, industrious but ineffective in front of goal, leading the line. With 6 in midfield the side dominated possession but only managed a dismal one shot on target. Even with Gerrard and Adam in the middle Liverpool failed to create real chances. The 3-6-1 could also be accused of being negative as the two wing-backs worked as a 5-4-1 at times. Changing his sides tactics to face Stoke at home has to be considered both strange and negative.

Liverpool’s prospects

Playing a 4-4-2 would leave Liverpool a lot more open. So far they have defended well but without Lucas any midfield pairing would leave the club exposed  and leave the defence without a midfield shield. One could arguably go as far as to say that the loss of Lucas, a defensive midfield destroyer, has had catastrophic effects on their attacking game due to the wider implications it has led to for the club tactically. Acting as a screen, in the same way Parker does for Spurs, Lucas allows other players to get forward more freely.

Liverpool are now 5 points behind 4th place Chelsea and although Chelsea themselves have had problems it is a big gap. They do still have to host Chelsea and Arsenal but by the time those fixtures come about Liverpool could be well out of the race for 4th.

Dalglish was brought to the club during a wave of hysteria as the club were rock bottom under Hodgson the fans relished in the return for ‘King Kenny’ but now the honeymoon period has worn off Liverpool fans must seriously question whether he is the right man for the job. Especially in the context of the huge amounts of money he has spent, in honesty, to little effect. One could argue that this is a transitional season, but as is the case for both Chelsea and Arsenal who sit above Liverpool in the Premier League. A change of manager is unlikely, but perhaps one should be considered if Liverpool do not start firing.


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  1. The concern for me all along was that Liverpool fans have such an intense worship for Dalglish that I think it clouds clear thinking. Under Hodgson, Liverpool were poor and to be fair, the squad was failing after the Benitez reign. The fans heaped blame on Hodgson and once Dalglish’s name was mentioned, it was all over.

    He has bought poorly and Carroll is the epitome of a player who is woefully overrated and totally out of place. Suarez was a great pick up but Downing less so. Gerrard’s absence always hurts them but they still have the same deficiencies in their squad that they had under Hodgson. No depth in quality and too little power up front.

    Whilst Dalglish is in charge, everything will be peaches and cream at Anfield.


  2. I think it’s incredible that Dalglish is coming under criticism. That’s not blind loyalty saying that, though. If you ignore the manager is Kenny and look at the facts it’s ludicrous people aren’t more positive. In fact if anything I think it’s the fact it’s Dalglish has played against him.

    Last seen he was asked to come in and rescue a sinking ship. We were very much heading towards relegation under Woy. Kenny came in and rescued us.

    Now if you ignore it’s Dalglish then this is our new manager’s first full season in charge. As it is we’re playing exciting, attacking football often full of flair & invention. Many ‘neutral’ or rival supporters have told me LFC are interesting to watch for the first time in years. We are struggling to score goals, yes, but we’re creating chances and looking like we’ll score.

    As well as that we have a very real chance of winning the league cup and are still in the FA cup. If we were to beat united 2 of the tougher sides would be out.

    Therefore it is still entirely plausible that we could do a league cup and FA cup double as well as finishing 4th in the table. Even if we finished 6th but won a cup that’s still a great achievement. Can those of you belittling Dalglish honestly say that if AVB had come in and we were 90 mins away from a cup final, still in the FA cup and in with a shout of 4th you’d be disappointed right now? I don’t think so.

  3. My worry throughout the summer was that we didnt look as thought we were improvin on what we already had. We were undoubtedly strengthening our squad but did we need to do that? Last season Maxi, Suarez and Kuyt were linking up beautifully. I thought we’d look for similar playerd who could enhance this exciting fluid style. Instead it looks as if we purchased players (henderson & downing) to service Carroll. That is around £70m spent on three players who won’t add goals to our game – i could have told Kenny and Damian that from the start. Having said that, I am a fan of Henderson. I believe he can be a very strong player for us in the future. The question for me is, does he have the character to succeed? I am frustrated that we seem to have lost that fluid style we had last season in favour of a more rigid formation. Last season, we were an absolute joy to watch at times. We may be missing two huge players in Lucas and Suarez but we still need a goalscorer and a tricky attacking mid.

  4. I don’t agree. The still believe all the signing that have been made are good ones that just haven’t performed to their known potential as yet. Several of them were their previous clubs player of the season. I think the tactics that have been used on the whole have been correct as we are keeping clean sheets & creating plenty of chances but we have not been clinical infront of goal.

  5. I understand the article in some aspects and I have a mixed review. Yes KD has been disappointing in the tactics he used when we played Stoke. 4-5-1 I ludicrious for a team like us to use againt teams we ‘should’ be easily beating based on our performance against better placed team. Come on liverpool beat Chelsea,Arsenal and could have beaten both Manchester clubs! The problem to me is that players are to inconsistent at liverpool! The signings of KD were good with the exception of Carrol who all liverpool fans would know was a desperate buy when we lost Torres to Chelsea. Downing, Henderson were good buys based on their performances at their previous clubs, they just have not performed. Carrol was a good buy based on how he was playing….his fee was too high though, but when your desperate…anything goes. In closing I do support the notion that KD is fully responsible, but not so much so because of his buys but because of his negative tactics at home and not using his players precisely! Maxi should be starting as one of the most clinical players on the team…..come on KD, up you game!!!

  6. Yes Kenny should take criticism.The reason the team aren,t scoring is because the way the team is set up and the way they are trying to play.Ithink back the Rafa Benitez days and the way they would speed up the game in the final third.If you remember Neil Mellor scored some important goals although he would not be considered a Premier League striker.I think some of his tactics are outdated and too negative.It reminds me of the match for the league title in1989 against Arsenal when we could lose by 1 goal and still win the League,but there was no coherent plan to achieve the result.