Tuesday 6 December 2016

Red-Hot Meireles

Carl Markham

Published 12/02/2011 | 05:00

Raul Meireles is starting to show his true ability, according to Kenny Dalglish. Photo: PA
Raul Meireles is starting to show his true ability, according to Kenny Dalglish. Photo: PA

Kenny Dalglish insists midfielder Raul Meireles' impressive goalscoring form of late is entirely down to the player's talent and his adaptation to English football -- not the manager's tactical genius.

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The Liverpool boss said the Portugal midfielder's four goals in his last five matches were all a result of the 27-year-old's hard work.

Meireles failed to find the target in his first 21 matches after joining from Porto in the summer for £11.5m but has suddenly burst into life in front of goal. He has been deployed in an advanced midfield role, occasionally alongside captain Steven Gerrard and sometimes on his own, and has been a revelation in the last month.

"Raul has always had the ability he has shown recently," said Dalglish. "Maybe he's settled down a little bit and is more comfortable and confident because he is playing well but there's been nothing drastic (tactically) for any of the players really.

Talented

"It is fantastic to see Raul doing so well. He's always had what we are seeing now but it's been trying to get it out and it is coming out now and he's scoring goals."

Meireles has undoubtedly benefited from being given a role he is more accustomed to, having been played deeper and even wide on the right during Roy Hodgson's ill-fated six-month reign.

When Dalglish took over early last month, many questioned whether a man who had not managed for more than a decade was equipped to deal with the demands of the modern game. The 59-year-old Scot has always insisted football has not changed that much, and his recent success as he has sought to return the pass-and-move philosophy prevalent during his time at the club as player and manager more than 20 years ago demonstrate as much.

Having brought in coach Steve Clarke -- formerly Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea -- Dalglish has shown he is also capable of making significant tactical decisions.

In their last two matches of a four-game winning spell, against Stoke and Chelsea, he has fielded three centre-backs in 3-4-2-1 and 3-5-1-1 formations.

Fernando Torres drew a blank on his Chelsea debut on Sunday and admitted Liverpool's formation had taken his new team by surprise. Dalglish, though, played down the tactics involved.

"The system change was beneficial to us," he added. "I am not here to try to impress everyone by saying I'm a tactical wizard, I'm just here to get the best from our boys. It is our responsibility to work out how to do that and we won't do anything to confuse anyone."

Liverpool's best run of the campaign has lifted them to sixth place in the table, six points behind Chelsea in fourth. Dalglish will make a late decision on captain Steven Gerrard, who missed England's midweek friendly win over Denmark in Copenhagen with a groin problem.

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