Wednesday 28 June 2017

Dalglish ready to splash out €29 on new recruits

Kenny Dalglish: loving every minute of being back in charge of Liverpool's fortunes. Photo: Reuters
Kenny Dalglish: loving every minute of being back in charge of Liverpool's fortunes. Photo: Reuters

Rory Smith

KENNY DALGLISH believes being appointed as Liverpool's caretaker manager is the best job offer he has ever received, despite his urgent need to stave off the threat of relegation by boosting his squad with the €29m acquisition of Luis Suarez, Stephen Warnock and Charlie Adam.

Liverpool remain hopeful of striking an £18m deal with Ajax for the Uruguayan striker, as well as bringing Warnock, currently out of favour at Aston Villa, back to Anfield on an initial loan deal more than three years after he left the club.

Dalglish, though, is equally keen to strengthen his midfield and has identified Adam as his priority target after an impressive campaign for Blackpool. Ian Holloway, Dalglish's Bloomfield Road counterpart, has made it clear he would only sell his captain to a club he deemed worthy of his services -- ruling out Aston Villa -- but Liverpool are thought to feature on that list.

Blackpool's asking price, however, may pose a greater problem. Though Liverpool's director of football strategy, Damien Comolli, insists the club have "no more debt" and owners who are "willing to invest," Fenway Sports Group, Anfield's parent company, may not be willing to provide the £7m it would take to tempt Holloway into selling, given the player's age and profile.

Adam, though, would provide a substantially cheaper alternative to Ashley Young, the Aston Villa winger Comolli admitted Liverpool would consider moving to sign should he become available.

The Frenchman, speaking on Canal Plus, also revealed the club had considered a bid for Darren Bent before his £24m move to Villa Park.

"We thought of him, but we looked at his profile and thought he would not be very complementary to Fernando Torres," he said. "For Young, if he is on the market then we will be interested, but I do not believe that is the case. As far as Suarez is concerned, at the moment there is no deal with Ajax.

"I am surprised, given our results, the number of top level players who want to join us. They say that Liverpool is an attractive club, and most are also telling me that we have had a bad season, but we will not have two.

"This team has quality. I am convinced the squad left by (Rafael) Benitez is good. But it is true we need reinforcements."

prospects

However, it is Comolli's assessment of Liverpool's league prospects which reveals most about the task they feel they have ahead.

"The Europa League is our main objective for the season. We have won it three times and it's important for us to win it again," he said. "It's the shortest and probably the only way for us to qualify for Europe next season."

Given that Liverpool are only four points off seventh-placed Bolton, Comolli's outlook may appear gloomy.

That being the case, it is surprising that Dalglish should feel so fortunate to have returned to Anfield.

Indeed, given that his previous appointments have included inheriting a Liverpool team that won the double in his first season, arriving at Blackburn to be handed Jack Walker's millions and being tasked with converting Freddy Shepherd's and Sir John Hall's dreams into trophies at Newcastle, taking over a side 13th in the Premier League and devoid of all confidence should rank as a punishment, not a privilege.

"It is the best job I have ever been offered, so that will do me," he said.

"It is very seldom you get offered a job and are fortunate enough to have most things in place. For me, coming in here was the best offer I have had in my life and I was not going to turn that down. There are problems that need to be solved, but I would not be here if there were not any problems.

"Why is it the best job? Because it is Liverpool. The first time was brilliant, but this time it is even better. I was only a baby when I was in charge last time, whereas now I am a granddad, so I was running out of time.

"It was the best offer I could ever have had. It's different players, a different era, a different age. I knew the players at Liverpool when I first got the job and, while I knew some of the players here, you don't really get to know them until you start working with them," he said.

Dalglish leads his team into battle at Molineux today admitting he has no explanation for the club's woeful away record.

The Reds have, under three different managers, registered just two away wins in the Premier League in almost 13 months. That record contributed to the difficulties Rafael Benitez had before his departure in June, and was a major factor in Roy Hodgson leaving after just six months.

"It's very unlike Liverpool not to have a good away record. Normally it's excellent," said the 59-year-old Scot. "There are some things we've got to put right and that's one of them."

Another issue to put right is avenging the defeat by Wolves at Anfield last month -- one of the worst performances by Liverpool in a long time. It was the result which signalled the beginning of the end of Hodgson's short spell in charge.

lethargic

The same players who looked so lethargic that night have responded positively to Dalglish's arrival in the dugout, even if that has not been reflected in results so far during his tenure.

On the need to get his first win, Dalglish added: "I don't know how you evaluate how important it is, but we'd love to get a victory.

"Even if we get battered and win 1-0 it wouldn't matter -- it'd still be a great lift for everyone.

"If the players keep doing what they've been doing, a victory can't be far away.

"I thought it might have come at Manchester United, at Blackpool, and against Everton, but we've been very encouraged by what the players have done." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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