As the Liverpool fraternity continue to revel in their demolishment of Birmingham City, Kenny Dalglish’s squad are proving to onlookers that what was once a one dimensional team now has varying strands to their play. Since the seemingly indispensable Fernando Torres left the club for Chelsea in January, many were convinced his departure would have devastating effects on the direction of the football club, but the results since February could not reflect further from the truth.
Torres, when on song, gave his side goals but his prolific Liverpool career forced his club into a very specific style of play. However, with Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt, Andy Carroll and in, the latest instance, Maxi Rodriguez, Dalglish has shown his squad to be far more versatile than many people thought. With Carroll absent, the side were forced to adapt against Alex McLeish’s side and they did so with aplomb, as the five-goal winning margin suggests.
Playing a lone Torres was a ploy introduced by Rafael Benitez, and the latter’s team in its prime represented a well-oiled machine. However, with El Nino the focal point, this meant, for example, Kuyt was made to play wide right and although he does this admirably, it must be said the Dutchman is out of position. Against Birmingham Kuyt proved when employed centrally he looks very comfortable. In essence he is returning to his roots, where he scored 149 goals in 306 Eredivisie games, for FC Utrecht and Feyenoord.
Kuyt can play in a two-man attacking line, as he did so effectively with Suarez against Birmingham, or run the line as the single striker, something his tireless work ethic allows him to do. Throw into the mix Rodriguez, who has seemingly stumbled across a new lease of life under Dalglish, the attacking-third now offers both adaptability and unpredictability.
Having hit a purple patch of late, Kuyt believes the team’s new found confidence is not misplaced. With the group of youngsters who have stolen the show under Dalglish, he added that the squad needs the merest of tweaks to become genuine title contenders next season. The Dutchman said: “Things are looking much more promising and if we can add a few other good players then we can compete with the best next season. We are close I think but like everyone is thinking, we have to move forward and get better and better. “
Many supporters and commentators continually labelled the Reds a two-man team whilst talismanic captain Steven Gerrard and the new Chelsea No 9 were locked in tandem, but this rejuvenated Liverpool reflects something entirely different. With Gerrard forced to watch the season-close from the sidelines and Torres a slowly-fading memory this team is playing a quick tempo and interchanging style of football. This breeds confidence, but it also depicts a squad trying to build success with a multifaceted approach.