There’s no denying that we all believe the mass of success Liverpool so regularly enjoyed reached its absolute peak during the legendary reigns of Bob Paisley and Bill Shankley. There’s no dispute that the quality of players wearing the red jersey during these times were talented on an astronomical scale. Passion could be taken for granted and the scouting system and coaching staff was arguably the best set-up in world football. But the future can still look bright.
The label currently being slapped over the Liverpool name by neutral and rival fans alike, is ‘Mediocre’. As time went on by, Liverpool embarked on what can only be seen as a gradual decline in success. In retrospect, this slow and arduous lapse in footballing quality had peaks of its own – the Treble in 2001, Istanbul in 2005, Wembley in 2006. While Liverpool’s glory days had long passed, there were always short glimpses of rebirth, times to look forward to. King Kenny has brought that glimpse to us, and it is all the more brighter than the last.
Not only have Liverpool’s performances found rejuvenation in light of the King’s second coming, but the legendary Scotsman has also brought new-found hope to the careers of the club’s younger players. Martin Kelly finds himself starting ahead of England’s first choice right back Glenn Johnson, who has found himself pushed over to cover for a troublesome left back position. Kelly has been taking the opportunity to show Liverpool fans just what we’ve been missing on the right side of the park for the best part of four years, memorably burning Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda for pace in the reds’ 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge. Standing as one of the team’s tallest players, he has the strength, pace and attacking flair that could soon make him a key component in Capello’s setup.
Besides the obvious Danny Wilson, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing who have all shared the spotlight at times this season, Dalglish has paid his dues to the performances of the Academy and Reserves players. Raheem Sterling managed to put 5 past Southend United’s youth team in a 9-0 demolition on the 14th of February. Recently, the Liverpool Youth team has won 8 games on the trott, scoring 31 goals in the process. Following these fantastic performances, Sterling and the likes of Jack Robinson, John Flanagan and Connor Coady were selected to travel and train with the squad for the Uefa Europa League tie against Sparta Prague.
While the current squad may lack depth, the amount of coverage our talented youth players are getting will not decrease in any respect following a few new signings. Dalglish sees and understands the importance of growing stars through the academy. Not only that, but he gives them a chance to prove themselves. This may not seem like much, but it’s an awful lot more than most top-flight English clubs do for their youth and reserve players these days, preferring to look elsewhere across Europe in attempts to purchase foreign talent – an expensive and risky industry no doubt.
With Liverpool’s current standing in regards to European football, there are big names out there who’d think twice before signing in summer. But is this really such a bad thing? Liverpool is full of young players, the future stars, who’d give anything to be playing in the first team. And at the helm is The King – and if anyone knows how to spot talent, it’s this man.
Mediocrity may be the state Liverpool found itself dwelling in at the start of the season, but with the crop of young players coming through the ranks now as a result of careful planning and patience, Dalglish could soon have all the passion, all the commitment, and all the talent we will ever need.