Monday 11 December 2017

Henry remains coy as Dalglish delivers

Sunderland 0
Liverpool 2

Rob Stewart

The Liverpool owner John W Henry has joined Kenny Dalglish in remaining coy about the future because "it's the Liverpool Way" but everything he said is pointing towards his manager being in charge of first-team affairs for the long haul.

In a rare public utterance, the American refused to discuss Dalglish's future, but after taking in his first game outside Merseyside, he delivered a ringing endorsement of the Scot after it emerged the pair had opened talks on life at Anfield beyond this season.

"What is going on in that regard is private," Henry said. "It is something called the Liverpool Way and you do these things behind closed doors. I am not going to talk about these things. He has done very well."

Henry had a veiled dig at Dalglish's predecessor, Roy Hodgson, when asked if there had been a change in mood since his takeover. "Absolutely, it's all very positive," he added. "Someone was saying that people weren't happy here. But I think since that person left, people are happier."

Henry (61) was speaking after Dalglish masterminded an impressive victory -- his sixth in 10 games -- that came courtesy of Dirk Kuyt's controversial penalty and a Luis Suarez belter. "It was a great goal," Henry observed.

Future

"He is a heck of a player." Victory enabled Liverpool to close the gap on Tottenham, but Henry acknowledged it will take some doing to finish fifth.

"We are working on the future," Henry said. "We will have to have a lot of days like today to do that (finish fifth). This was a big three points because this is a tough place.

"Tottenham are fifth and look very good, so we will have to play extraordinarily well. We will have to win when they come to Anfield to have a shot at that."

Later Dalglish -- only contracted to Liverpool till the end of this term -- sidestepped questions over his future. "I've seen in the papers I've asked for four years but I don't know who I'm supposed to have asked. I saw that I was offered two, but I don't know who sent that in," he said.

"Somebody asked if I'd spoken to the owners. Of course, I have, I speak to them every week. They're fantastic and supportive, but there's been no detailed discussions about next year.

"Until there's something to be said we can't make it up for you, until then, there's nothing. That's not a problem. The club has always been the most important thing. There's no pressure on anyone." They say what goes around comes around and that adage certainly rang true here. Some 18 months after Sunderland beat Liverpool courtesy of a beachball, the wheel of fortune turned full circle.

Last season Dalglish watched from the directors' box when Darren Bent's winner was incorrectly allowed to stand after he scored with the help of an inflatable, so there was a sense of karma when Kuyt converted an unjust penalty.

Dalglish's side were given a helping hand by referee Kevin Friend's assistant, Billy Smallwood, who erred in telling his colleague -- who initially awarded a free-kick -- that John Mensah had felled the excellent Jay Spearing in the penalty box.

Replays were unforgiving, as was Kuyt who sent the ball one way while Simon Mignolet dived the other and the visitors were on track against a side that have only beaten Liverpool twice in 20 Premier League meetings.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, whose side have lost five of their last six games demanded the introduction of TV replay technology after "one of those horrible afternoons."

"Maybe it's time for technology. We knew, and I knew and (fourth official) Martin Atkinson knew within five seconds it was outside the box," Bruce said. "It's a real key decision for someone 80 yards away to overturn the referee. If something was going to go wrong it did."

Liverpool were head and shoulders above Sunderland and after several near misses Suarez sealed victory when, following Kuyt's quick throw, he slipped past Lee Cattermole on the by-line before thumping a shot past Mignolet from the tightest of angles to cap an outstanding performance.

Liverpool's Jose Reina did not have a save to make until the 86th minute when Cattermole tried his luck from distance. The display had Dalglish championing Jamie Carragher and Spearing's England credentials. "They might try to call Carragher back the way he played today, or wee Jay Spearing,"he added.

In mitigation, Sunderland were deprived of Sulley Muntari and Kieran Richardson through injury early in this increasingly one-sided contest and had Mensah sent off late on for a professional foul on the mercurial Suarez, whose nascent partnership with Andy Carroll promises much. "There's enjoyable viewing to come as those two get to know each other" said Dalglish. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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