Wednesday 25 April 2018

Team spirit the key for Dalglish

Gordon Tynan

It is a sign of the strong spirit Kenny Dalglish has installed inside Liverpool's dressing-room that Luis Suarez decided to fill his free afternoon on Tuesday by cheering the reserves to a 5-1 victory over Sunderland.

But as the Liverpool manager contemplates changes to the team that won at Chelsea ahead of Manchester City's visit to Anfield on Sunday, Dalglish has made it clear he will not allow players left out in the cold to disrupt the harmony within his squad.

"If the players come in with really good attitudes and not with petty lips when they are left out, it is helpful to everyone," said the Liverpool manager.

"If they are not committed to playing, it is not going to be my problem; it is going to be their problem. We will go and get people who are determined to play."

Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson are all sweating on a recall against leaders City after Dalglish's decision to start with Craig Bellamy, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez at Stamford Bridge was rewarded with a 2-1 win last Sunday.

Carroll will be hopeful of a recall, having scored twice in a 3-0 win over City in the corresponding fixture in April, and Downing may also return.

The fact Dalglish could afford the luxury of naming more than £70m worth of signings on the bench against Chelsea illustrates the strength in depth he now has at his disposal. But he is also aware of the impact his selections have on those who are left out.

"It is hard for the ones who don't play," said Dalglish. "It's hard to keep them motivated and to keep them going. That is understandable.

"The 11 that started at Chelsea did very well. And it was great for the three boys (Carroll, Henderson and Downing) who came on as well.

"They have been in the door only two minutes. For them to come in with positive attitudes has shown their attitude and determination. It hasn't done anyone any harm.

"It's not pleasant, but it is understandable that there is disappointment if you are not playing every game. But it is a long season and everyone is going to be given their chance."

Dalglish insists he is building for the long-term future at Anfield and isolated results -- good or bad -- have no bearing on that plan.

"We don't need to use one game to give us an incentive to bite on and look to the future," said the Scot.

"We look a lot further ahead than that. We are not going to get carried away with one game whether we have won or lost.

"We are looking to progress and build something here that is going to last for a long time and I think we are moving in the right direction.

"Whether Sunday is a positive result or not, we will have to see, but it won't be a determining factor on the progress of the club."

Liverpool won most of the tactical battles against Chelsea, as almost all of Dalglish's decisions paid off positively.

Maxi Rodriguez rewarded the manager for his first league start of the season with the opening goal, assisted by Bellamy, who was also given a rare start, while the introduction of Henderson to strengthen the midfield with an attacking impetus after the break helped wrest back some control from the hosts.

The Reds boss, while not saying the team at Stamford Bridge had been a 'horses for courses' selection, said certain players were sometimes picked for certain situations.

"I don't think anything just comes about. We know our players, how they can play and their attributes and we will play to them," he added.

"We are more important than anyone we are playing against and, if we do what we do right, we will give anyone a difficult game.

"I think we know what our strengths are and what our individual strengths are and when we need to use them. If we make the right decisions more often than we make the wrong ones, there will be an awful lot of smiley faces."

Charlie Adam produced probably his best performance since joining Liverpool last summer against Chelsea, but Dalglish insisted it was no surprise to him. "It only endorses what we thought when he came in first," said the Liverpool manager. "Charlie certainly played well, but there is nothing he has been doing which has been a surprise to us here. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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