By Kieran Lovelock
It was fifty years ago this week that the maximum wage was abolished for English soccer players and considering the manner in which the overpaid Liverpool players are currently performing new boss Kenny Dalglish must wish that it had never happened.
Dalglish is a rare breed in that he was an unquestionably great player whose managerial record is also very strong. The reason for this is probably that, unlike most managers who were great players, he has a unique ability to accept his players’ limitations.
However, even a generous man such as Kenny Dalglish must be left utterly dumbfounded with the inferiority of this Liverpool squad with a low point possibly coming last week as he watched the club, whose entire history was partly built on Dalglish’s ability as a player, get comprehensively outplayed and beaten by Blackpool. In fact, it is when you compare the fortunes and methods of these two sides that we can start to understand the problems Liverpool have.
Due to current circumstances, where money is tight everywhere in soccer, all it takes is for one manager to spend his transfer money unwisely and any club, no matter how stooped in history they may be, can be set back ten years in their progress- witness Liverpool and Rafael Benetiz.
No club from Real Madrid downwards can ever escape the basic rule of building a good football team which is that good players when you games and poor players lose you games. Once you have good players you can apply clever tactics but get the two mixed up and what has happened to Liverpool will happen to anyone.
Conversely let us look at Blackpool. Ian Holloway has had a tiny fraction of Liverpool’s budget to spend but has used it in a way that has accelerated the club’s progress beyond all forms of expectation.
There is only one reason why Blackpool are where they are and that is that they are a good team put together by one man’s shrewd judgment in the transfer market. Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell, Ian Evatt and Richard Kingson are good players who have been a victim of shrewd judgment by Holloway.
In the same token there is only one reason why Liverpool are where they are- and that is because they are a poor team put together by one man’s terrible judgment in the transfer market.
Looking back in a strange way the famous Champions League win in 2005 could have been the worst thing that could have happened to Liverpool. What happened in that game is the kind of thing that occurs once a century and undoubtedly played a part in Benetiz staying on at the club.
For it would have been nigh on impossible to have fired someone who brought such a huge achievement to a club that had been starved of success on that kind of scale for virtually two decades, and perhaps the Liverpool board should have been blinded from .
Benetiz therefore kept his job on the basis of three goals, a penalty shootout as well as a glaring miss from Andriy Shevchenko and was then given the freedom to set the club back to unprecedented depths.
But perhaps nobody could have summed up Liverpool’s problems up better than Kenny Dalglish himself in his ghost column in the Daily Mail this week when he stated: “where football is suffering at the moment is that the best players are so well-paid, it leads to the middle-of-the-road players – for want of a better description – getting a lot more than what they are entitled to.”
It is a shame for Liverpool that Dalglish didn’t present this fact to Rafael Benetiz earlier. If he had, the ever so average Spaniard may have refrained himself from ruining everything that Dalglish built as a player before so ironically leaving him to clean up the mess of what could go down as one of the great collapses of any club in English football history.