Club Focus – Liverpool – Youngsters continue to repay Dalglish’s faith

Liverpool fans have a lot to thank Kenny Dalglish for. Following Roy Hodgson’s dismal stint in charge at Anfield, Dalglish has come in and turned everything around. The Reds are no longer in the bottom half of the table, instead they are fighting fiercely for a place in the Premier League’s top five. It takes a brave man to allow a player of Fernando Torres’ quality to leave the club, yet Dalglish did just that, and replaced the sulking Spaniard for the lively Luis Suarez and powerful Andy Carroll. Both are now justifying their sky-high transfer fees. However, the Scot’s greatest achievement has been the way in which he has allowed the club’s young players to blossom.

Talented right-back John Flanagan is the latest youngster to have been given a chance to shine and the decision to select the 18-year-old to face Manchester City paid dividends as he put in a composed, assured performance during the 3-0 win. Flanagan is not the first player to have been given such an opportunity under Dalglish and he certainly won’t be the last. The manager has previously shown faith in Martin Kelly, who displaced Glen Johnson at right-back before picking up an injury, and Danny Wilson has also been called upon a few times this campaign. Jay Spearing is another who has looked extremely confident in the last couple of outings while Jonjo Shelvey was a regular substitute in Dalglish’s early days before the young Englishman picked up a knock. In the unlikely event that the club’s owners decide to relieve Dalglish of his duties come the end of the season, the Scot will be able to live in the knowledge that he has gone some way to securing a bright future for Liverpool Football Club.

Many managers are not brave enough to allow their youngsters to face top-flight opposition, but Dalglish does so regularly and has gained much success from this policy. Every new young player who appears for the first-team seems to be competent and capable of playing at the highest level. Previous Liverpool managers have lacked the courage to offer the chance, even though it now appears that the talent has always been there. The club’s academy is not as bad as it has been made out to be in the past – Dalglish is proving that.

There is no shame in allowing youngsters to rise up the ranks. For some who face injury problems, the answer would be simply to splash the cash in the next transfer window. Instead of giving Flanagan a chance, Dalglish could easily have played Jamie Carragher out of position at right-back and then gone out in the summer and spent heavily on an international defender. Now Liverpool have no need to do such a thing. For a side who supposedly lacked strength in depth at the start of the season, the Reds now have confident players covering in many positions. Dalglish will undoubtedly be judged on results, but his belief in the youngsters has been another success story in his second stint as the Liverpool manager.

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