Home comforts soften blow of Liverpool’s Euro exit
Liverpool consolidated their hold on the EPL’s sixth place with an impressive, if controversial, victory at ninth-placed Sunderland last Sunday, inspired by big-money striker Luis Suarez.
And if the Uruguayan’s importance to manager Kenny Dalglish’s side wasn’t obvious enough, Liverpool’s tame Europa League exit three days earlier without the livewire 23-year-old, proved the point, Dalglish noting that a lack of flair proved costly for his side.
The win at Sunderland helps Liverpool’s campaign for another crack at the Europa League next season.
And it should help Dalglish’s case for a permanent contract. The club’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) continue to reshape the club from within, appointing former commercial director Ian Ayre as managing director.
Just as helpful to Dalglish is the news on the injury front, where three key players, including talismanic midfielder and captain Steven Gerrard, are due back in training during the current international break.
The Reds were fortunate to take the lead from the penalty spot in the first half at the Stadium of Light, after referee Steven Friend initially awarded a free-kick outside the penalty box for a foul on Jay Spearing, only to change his mind, incorrectly, after consulting his assistant.
Dalglish acknowledged that “there was a dispute” over the location of the foul, but added: “From where we are I couldn’t tell you, but if we’ve got a fortuitous one, then we have got a fortuitous decision.”
There was no luck attached to Suarez’s goal, which clinched the 2-0 victory. And it was this spark Dalglish was referring to when he spoke after Liverpool’s Europa League exit to Portuguese said SC Braga. He said of Liverpool’s 1-0 aggregate defeat: “You need to be really strong creatively if you are going to break down a very organised side. We could have done with a bit more creativity.”
Dalglish still awaits an announcement on his managerial future. And striker Dirk Kuyt this week urged Liverpool powers-that-be to move the process forward “as soon as things are ready. The manager has done a great job so far, so it is better for everyone.”
Gerrard, fellow midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and right-back Martin Kelly are expected to return to training next week after injuries. Gerard is targeting Liverpool’s April 2nd fixture at West Brom. First-team coach Steve Clarke added: “(April) will be difficult but if we can have our full squad ready we’ll look forward to it.”
Tags: Liverpool, EPL, Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard, Jay Spearing, Dirk Kuyt