Dalglish must use remaining league matches to blood the kids
Alan Hansen, one of Kenny Dalglish’s firmest friends, will never be allowed to forget his infamous insistence that you never win anything with kids. Serves him right. Apart from titles, kids can also win you friends. In Liverpool’s situation, they need all the friends they can get.
The club is being parodied as a faded beauty who puts her make-up on with a trowel. The manager is in denial about the significance of the disparity between Liverpool’s performances in the league and in cup competition. The fans do not know whether to laugh or cry.
Dalglish is at bay. Human nature being what it is, the media are taking revenge for his sourness under pressure. His legend is sagging under the weight of criticism. He would gouge out his own eyes with a rusty spoon before admitting it publicly, but he needs a quick win, a good news story.
A Champions League place is gone. A Europa League place is assured. His best option is to concentrate on a two-game season in the FA Cup, and to introduce the next generation in the remaining Premier League games. Liverpool need the endorphins released by the successful birth of a new star.
This is where Raheem Sterling (pictured) comes in. His debut, as substitute, was the only redeeming factor in that grotesque home defeat by Wigan. Dalglish made all the right noises about protecting his potential, but he should give him a run in the side as a matter of priority.
Sure, he’s only 17. But, apart from a game against Chelsea, Liverpool’s run-in is relatively undemanding. Opportunity knocks. This is Liverpool’s chance to drown out the noise from what looks like a concerted campaign to unsettle Sterling. A series of articles, using unattributed sources to cite his supposed impatience, has led to speculation about interest from the likes of Spurs.
I’m told Sterling, and Jordan Ibe, the 16-year-old winger recruited from Wycombe, have impressed Dalglish immensely. Jon Flanagan is mirroring the steady progress of Martin Kelly. On the downside, other much-vaunted prospects such as defender Andre Wisdom, midfield player Conor Coady and striker Nathan Eccleston, have been less convincing.
Kids may be imperfect and unpredictable, but they buy you time.
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