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Kenny Dalglish or Damien Comolli – Who’s To Blame?

With Liverpool languishing in seventh place this season and several high profile signings struggling to justify their price-tags, we look at who is to blame.

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Is it a little bit of both? Liverpool are in seventh place after spending upwards of £100 million on players in 2011 (no matter how you spin it) and are looking increasingly unlikely to catch Chelsea in fourth place. Some Tottenham fans think the best thing they ever did was get rid of Comolli, but Dalglish is a long way from the saviour he was last season and his team selections and tactics leave many scratching their heads.

Being on the brink of a Carling Cup Final is never a bad thing, but Liverpool’s priority has to be getting back into the Champions League, and the league performances have not been in line with the owners’ or the fans’ expectations. Saturday’s 3-1 demolition by Bolton was on par with the worst performances under Roy Hodgson, and it comes on the back of one of the most toothless 0-0 draws by a Liverpool side I’ve seen.

Some might argue that Liverpool is a work in progress, but when you consider they were playing much better football from February-May in 2011, you might say that progress has halted, or that we might even be worse off than we were during that wonderful period at the start of the Kenny Dalglish renaissance.

Some might argue it’s the players who should shoulder the blame, and perhaps that’s true, but it’s Comolli and Dalglish who brought them in, and it’s the manager who selects the team, formation and tactics, and the one who’s ultimately responsible for the results.

When Dalglish took over as caretaker manager, it’s unlikely he was given much of a role, if any, in the transfer process. Comolli, in an American style role as Director of Football strategy, was the man who oversaw the players the club signed. That seems to be something that escapes many Liverpool supporters.

It was Damien Comolli then, not Dalglish, who brought in Liverpool’s latest talisman. Luis Suarez has lit-up the Premier league since his arrival, in more ways than one, and has been an unmitigated success.

But Comolli was also responsible for signing Andy Carroll, the most expensive British player ever, and the eighth most expensive player of all time. He certainly must go down as one of the worst signings ever, too. Suarez was clearly a well researched, considered buy, while the Andy Carroll transfer reeks of panic and uncertainty, after Torres handed in a transfer request in the dying hours of the window. Dalglish and Suarez galvanized a team low on confidence.

Dalglish brought fresh ideas, icon status and enthusiasm, Suarez brought genuine quality and guile. Both combined to turn a decent side into a human steamroller that demolished nearly all that went before them. Many thought then, that the summer transfer window was a time to add more quality to an already good side. Dalglish and Commolli clearly had other ideas, and that’s when the honeymoon ended.

Dalglish undoubtedly had more say in the transfer process after being appointed permanently as manager, and although Commolli still oversaw the scouting and overall transfer policy, there is no doubt in my mind Dalglish gave instructions to buy British, and even handpicked Charlie ‘Hollywood’ Adam. Liverpool’s core was ripped to shreds, left unbalanced and replaced with ‘supposedly’ better players.

Despite being among the best performers in 2010-2011, Kelly, Spearing, Meireles, Kuyt and Maxi found themselves either relegated to the bench or no longer wanted at the club. Andy Carroll somehow found himself starting ahead of Kuyt again, despite Suarez and Kuyt’s blossoming partnership, and Carroll’s own poor form.

Downing was brought in ahead of Maxi, at a cost of £20 million (source: Guardian), despite the Argentine’s blistering scoring streak. Downing has yet to score a goal or provide an assist in the league. Henderson was judged to be better than Meireles, at a cost of £16 million (source: Daily Mail). The Portuguese clearly not having any of it, quickly jumped shipped to Chelsea.

Henderson is a talented, if not very ambitious player, but at that cost was not worth the effort, and is not as good a player as Jonjo Shelvey, who arrived for a fraction of the price.

And then there’s Adam, who despite his inconsistency, immobility, inability to tackle, constant fouling and proneness to the Hollywood pass, was judged to be better than Jay Spearing, and still gets picked week in, week out. Against Bolton, Adam had a pass completion rate of 55%. In other words, Liverpool had a 45% chance of losing the ball whenever he touched it.

Only Enrique’s ousting of Martin Kelly can be justified, but even that’s harsh on a young player who promises to be one of the Premier League’s best defenders in years to come. While Craig Bellamy was certainly a good addition, if not a long term solution. Rory Smith summed up my feelings perfectly (for the first and probably only time) on Twitter after the Bolton debacle:

Thank God #LFC invested in proven Premier League performers last summer. Otherwise they might have crumbled in games like this.

For the first time in years, Liverpool had money to spend, and they wasted most of it. Comolli brought them in, but it’s Dalglish who continues to pick them. And it’s Dalglish who played three at the back against one striker in Peter Crouch.

It’s Dalglish who played Charlie Adam and Gerrard in a two man mid field against Bolton, tactical suicide, which was very quickly taken advantage of. Making a very good defense look extremely bad. It’s Dalglish who claimed last week that Stewart Downing was “better than I thought”. It’s Dalglish who relegated last season’s top scorer for Liverpool and a regular Dutch international to the bench, preferring the heavy touch of Andy Carroll instead.

Some believe Dalglish is behind the policy of buying British and that’s the reason for our misfortunes. There’s probably an element of truth to that, but there are plenty of good young British players, we just bought the wrong ones!

In the eyes of many, Dalglish can do no wrong. He revitalized the club, and sent its supporters a message that they all need to pull together. But believing in him no matter what is a dangerous line of thinking. Last season he was bold, trusting the younger players and giving the older ones newfound belief. This season he’s proving to be stubborn, sapping confidence from the very players he gave it to.

The free scoring, free-flowing football of last year — with Maxi, Kuyt, Suarez and Meireles interchanging — has been replaced by a frustrating blend of missed chances and predictability in attack. Both Comolli and Dalglish have to shoulder the blame. Comolli for buying ineffective, overpriced players and Dalglish for demoting good players and continuing to play new ones no matter their performances.

Sacking Dalglish is not the answer, at least not until he’s had a full season in charge. But I struggle to believe he’s the long term answer. Certainly, his post match video conference showed signs of frustration, stress and anger. Not only at his players. This transfer window could be Comolli and Dalglish’s saving grace, so it’s disappointing and a little surprising to hear that the club expects it to be a quiet one. Hopefully, that’s just PR strategy.

If they can buy an excellent finisher, and add cover to defensive midfield, then another strong run-in is not out of the question. If things continue as they have been though, it doesn’t look good for the Reds.

Guest post submitted by Liverpool Football Blog



  1. john

    January 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Im sad to say but doesnt mean lverpool legand means good manager english signing are his pick.
    English players havent been world class ten years kenny is trying it the way shankly did times have changed we have great owners not like when rafa was manager .
    We need Jose long term or rafa with these owner so they can do what they did at red souxs

  2. gary

    January 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

    its no ones fault player bought in the last window just havent done what is required, they need to repay the faith shown in them by kenny,just because we are not on top of the prem and flying it is no reason to even talk about kenny’s future, liverpool fans are no different from the rest any more,

  3. Bobbygaff

    January 24, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Does the writer of this article actually follow or understand football? If he knew anything he would know that Dalglish scouted Luis Suarez months before Comoli was at the club. Martin Kelly is a right back/CB so how can he be ousted by Enrique a left back? Meireles by his own admission wanted out of Liverpool, just like Torres he thought he was going to walk straight into a title winning side. When Spearing is fit he usually plays a part. Kuyt being ousted for Carroll, Kuyt hasn’t scored since last march and missed a vital penalty against Everton, a game in which Andy Carroll scored! The writer is nothing but a second rate hack who knows nothing about Liverpool or football. Every team has a bad run, Utd, City, Arsenal and Chelsea have all had bad runs this season. I would suggest that the writer of this piece gets some facts right before writing stupid articles!

    • dionysus

      January 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Meireles was pushed by the new signings and KKs public request for British talent. Chelsea came with an offer and Pool rejected, there was a bit of horse trading and he forced Pools hand. He would never have wanted out. Kuys scored in Spetember 2011 and that miss against Everton was his first penalty miss ever for Pool. Really not sure where you get your facts from re KK and the Saurez purchase. I think Camolli can claim responsibility for the conclusion of the deal and contract etc but not sure either can claim resposibility for finding Saurez. I think the problem is Pool is stuck in the dark ages in many respects. The Liverpool way, doing things behind closed doors etc KKs interviews are so childish. We are in the information age, play open cards. Tell us EXACTLY who is responsible for what, who bought Carrol, Downing etc.

    • Abhishek-Liverpool Fan

      January 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      @Bobbygass.Dude just shutup.I think u r a fan of kenny not LFC.Meireles was sold
      because kenny didnt grant him a wish he
      wanted after the end of the season.Ifwe
      have 3 midfield maestros i.e gerrard,
      aquilani,meireles then why did he bring adam& henderson instead of a DM.Why didnt he sell spearing?why did he offer contracts to robinson& flanagan instead of ngog,pacheco,insua,ayala?& suarez was on commolis radar & he is his pick.Downing,carroll,henderson,adam wereon dalglishs wishlist.Think logically………,
      (1)(2009-2010 season)-7th place was rafas worst result due to ownership disputes.Even though we sacked him
      (2)(2010-2011)New Owners+New managers)
      both Hodgson+kennys output= 6th positon
      (3)(2011-now)Major investment+only kenny
      ‘s managership= 7th place till date…..
      & also torres wanted to leave when benitez left & also during roy’s reign but he wasnt sold.but only kenny sold him?why?Even modric wasnt sold when he put transfer request……no retard would expect 7th place with such huge investment.

  4. Bomber25

    January 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Very good article. Very objectively written. Dalglish is definitely not one for the long haul.

    • tafscot

      January 24, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Amazing how many are ready to jump on he bandwagon and have a go at Kenny, who told them who chose which players. it is all simply guesswork, BUT that aside some of the pleyrs bought have failed miserably, is that he fault of the manager? of course not, when the players were bought, they looked like good buys, All the hype about Liverpool buying class, then when THE PLAYERS dont do it on the park? Suddenly the manager is in the wrong.
      As players dont suddenly become bad neither does a manager, Kenny wears his heart on his sleeve, I said at the beginning of the Season if we could win one of the cups, and qualify EVEN for the ERuropa league he would be doing well, everyone was expecting miracles, to be top four I fear.

      • seano

        January 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

        The players are not doing it cos they are average and were poor buys.Who bought them is irrelevant. Who keeps playing them is the question.You cannot do the same thing and expect different results. Poor team selection – play players on form not because you feel you need to justify the money spent on them. Poor tactics , no plan A and certainly no plan B.Substitutions are often to late or suspect to say the least.Give the youngsters a go – at least they will try. Hendo might be 1 for the future but is non existant now -no tackles made,no involvement and no goals or assist.Adam is…plse fill in the blanks -nt worth writing about.Carol shld be playing in the reserves.Downings form is non existant yet they start most games.Now we’ve been linked with every other British player who wouldnt make the reserve teams of the teams above us.No wonder JH wont give KD anymore money

  5. royce

    January 24, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Not well researched really how has Enrique at left back pushed Kelly who has played on the right out of the side?

    • acha5066

      January 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Pretty simple really, Glen Johnson was playing left back and Kelly right back. Johnson’s an international right back so it’s no surprise that he kept his place when Enrique came in. Thus, Enrique took Kelly’s place in the side.

  6. Loverpool

    January 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Suarez was scouted by Benitez one year previously.
    When he says Kelly was ousted by Enrique he obviously means now Johnson will play RB again therefore he’s indirectly ousted Kelly… Use your brain.
    Meireles by his own admission… Where do you get that information from his own admission. He says he wasn’t given playing time… You talk pure garbage.
    Kuyt not scoring could be down to him not being picked in the first team regularly unlike last year, your form and confidence are bound to drop.
    This writer has a genuine opinion which is a subjective thing. I think YOU need to get your facts right instead of blindly following …

    • Tom

      January 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      why are you bitter and writing nonsense??
      this is a good article except for the Kelly and Enrique part of it.
      face the fact, embrace the truth! we all love our club, but this way isn’t a good sign of getting back into the top 4!

  7. Adam

    January 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Paid £35mil for 4 league goals when we should have paid £15m for Steven Fletcher a player who can score goals for lowly wolves and a self admitted Liverpool fan! Charlie Adam for £8m we got what we paid for! Stewart Downing the £20m winger who can’t cross a ball and is so predictable it’s like watching kids play footy over the park! Suarez signed in January by the way not the summer and is probably the most influential player we have! Enrique is the best left back in the league and Craig Bellamy is quite possibly the bargain buy of the season! The English players we have had come in are overpriced, overrated and not worthy of the badge they get paid to wear day in day out. Liverpool is a big club and these players do not possess the ability, determination and commitment worthy of their ridiculous wages!

  8. Abhishek-Liverpool Fan

    January 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Everyone who r likking kennis butthoal can fkuk themselves.
    (1)(2009-2010 season)-7th place was rafas worst result due to ownership disputes.Even though we sacked him
    (2)(2010-2011)New Owners+New managers)
    both Hodgson+kennys output= 6th positon
    (3)(2011-now)Major investment+only kenny
    ‘s managership= 7th place tilldate……
    what does this mean…& u still back kenny?…………….we r a top 4 team but unfortunately we slipped our positon once because of bad owners.But now we have new owners,newmanager & had made major investement.How much time does a good manager take a top 4 team
    (id say top1 team with such history) to top 4 once again even with such heavy investment?…………
    clearly its managers fault& the players bought buy him(carroll,adam,henderson,
    downing)who didnt give us anything.
    Kenny is worst in his transfer strategy.
    Eventhough we play like @ss,kenny includes downing,henderson,adam,carroll in starting11 butnot maxi,coates,bellamy
    eventhough they rock……………….
    one who backs kenny even now are aimless,bleaksighted retards & are fans of kenny not LIVERPOOL-FC………….no offence

  9. Jonathan

    January 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    With queen kenny in charge we wil never ever make it to de top 4.

    • Abhishek-Liverpool Fan

      January 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Agreed……………Hey JONATHAN,there r full of aimless retards all over
      (,,espn,skysprts etc.)who doesnt care whatever happens to the club but want kenny who failed in his transfer strategy.Even after all this $hit happened,Kenny will try to invest in overated,overpriced british players but not foreignPlayers.
      ..sometimes i think what would have been our postion,if we had bought Arda,Matuidi,Payet,Marin,MVila,Cissokho
      (keep aquilani,pacheco with us)etc…..
      i think my fav.RAFAEL BENITEZ would have given us if he had given such huge money.Definitely he will bring ARDA,HIGUAIN,VILLA in first place.

  10. Cornelius

    January 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Watever the case pple lets contribute contribute positely and those of u who have influence please advice kenny 2 buy a proven striker 2 partner suarez and bellamy

  11. Robert

    January 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    good artitcle and some very angry comments with 90% valid points and such. KD and DC need to bare the brunt here. bad or good buys but KD keeps on playing a system that does not help Carroll. the man has talent but we cannot ask him to play a Suarez or Torress role. we need attacking midfielders to flood the box so as to keep attention off Carroll. Downing is ok but lacks confidence and Adam, he irritates me with the so-called “Hollywood” pass. keep it simple man. Henderson will come good. Had his effort gone in at Fulham, we would have won that game but KD must take the blame for pushing out Mereiles, Aquilani and Pacheco. if they do not bring in quality in this window and fail to make CL, KD will be told to leave. let’s forget the investment of 100million because half of that we retained with the sale of Torres. Realistically, we spent 50million on Downing, Adam, Henderson and Enrique. if we do not win a cup and make CL, KD MUST go and bring Rafa back. he is a better scientist than KD. and one thing for sure, Rafa knows he was not the king od the field like KD was. so KD must realise that he is not the king of the dug out.

  12. Tarisai nyanjowa

    January 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I hav been a al my took us 21ys to win the champions league those great nights were bac again under rafa .the man had his faults but surely 2 champions league finals and a semi final in 6yrs is no joke.since when did we started to luk up to carling cup.definitely liverpool is biger institutiön than took rafa 1 season to win cl.under ken liverpol has gon from bad to worse.he has destroyed my season half throgh.i used to enjoy watching gun.chels.tot droping points hoping my team wil catch up.that dream has evaporated.surely england being a democracy the ability of kd to coach like one writer said must be brought at the platform fo debate

  13. James L

    January 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    play our youngsters. we have players in our youth team better than anndy carroll, Stewart downing, charlie Adam, and definitely Henderson, although accrington Stanley have better reserve players than Henderson. get stirling and eccleston in the mix. they will run a mock with mist defenses. chuck them in against united

  14. Chan

    January 25, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I had been a LFC fan for over 26 years and i had never been more let down. Like you said, we had money to spend in years and Comolli and KD blew it on a bunch of overpriced dudes. How many 100 mill are we going to get? The last time i checked, JH is no Roman or Mansour.
    IF KD is unwilling to resign or JH unwilling to sack him, we fans must take it upon ourselves to organise a campaign to get rid of this pair (KD + DC) like how we got rid of those American Cowboys. In truth, KD is not the man to bring us forward (worse bringing us backwards) and we must get rid of him now.

  15. LFCforlife

    January 25, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Football is all about business now… KK is a great player and a great manager, but there are many things in contracts with sponsors, players etc that we know nothing about which could affect the amount of playing time each players have. There is no point in saying who we have to axe or point fingers at who is to blame, as fans of the mighty reds what we have to do is to support and make do with what we have and keep believing that the premiership trophy will once again be back at Anfield and we will relive the glory old days soon. We sing it twice on every match day and should stick with it till we die… You’ll never walk alone.

  16. Shane

    January 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    “The free scoring, free-flowing football of last year — with Maxi, Kuyt, Suarez and Meireles interchanging”

    2 Players from the whole squad managed two-digit scoring units and they were Maxi ‘I scored 3 Hat-tricks in the last few games of the Season to secure a new contract at the club despite me being awful for most of the Season’ and Dirk ‘Il take the penalties this Season’ Kuyt

    I have no doubt this type of media ignorance is from an independent writer who has tried to point the figure on who he sees fit from the fish-bowl.

    I agree, Charlie Adam has this quality which he only seems to show against the bigger sides, Arsenal & Man City so to speak but he also needs time, time to figure when to do the right things and when to keep it simple.

    This whole saga with Andy Carroll frustrates me, last week against Man City we chucked 4-5 winger/forwards who can interchange and supply a good cross, Bellamy had a cracking game but I could count about 7-8 quality crosses that came into the box.

    Liverpool play Man Utd and start with Andy Carroll, we probably supplied about 3 crosses (bar corners) into the box the whole time he was on the pitch…now I’m no analyst or a problem solver at sport based naivety but the selection of when/where we deploy Carroll has been awful, if I’m an Air Hostess you don’t have me as the Pilot despite us working for the same firm, so don’t deploy a tall, commanding striker to play as an inside forward/forward, have me in the area ready for the crosses (The 1 chance he had at a header except from the corners, he hit the bar).

    Also, surely anyone in their right mind as Director of Football or Transfer negotiator would stay well away from a player who would rather move away from his £250k a week contract to play in a hotter/welcoming climate than to stay in England, that was a 100% no go area and no go transfer yet someone’s arrogance has now pretty much made it public that despite the fans recognition of Carroll’s poor justification at his transfer salary, the whole club including it’s owners have made it known we think he’s crap too.

    Carroll will come good, Crouch was 24 before he come good, before that he was everyone’s transfer bogey, destined to become the Shola Ameobi of any club before going on a 2nd season hot streak under Redknapp at Southampton and no-one can say Crouch was poor for Liverpool so unfortunately some players need time but £35m doesn’t buy much time by the looks.

  17. Declan

    January 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I have to agree with shane. The whole scenario with Andy Carroll is a joke. The tactics have been poor to him. To get the best out of him we have to play two out and out wingers who get to the byeline and whip crosses in for him to attack. KD has not helped with his ploy of playing Downing on the right!! Downing started off ok but has slumped since been moved over to the right. Henderson was last season being touted as one of the best prospects in this country- I feel he should have been eased into the setup, not a guarenteed first teamer- he works hard but is struggling to produce at the moment. I personally wouldnt have signed Adam for two reasons- 1) his time at Rangers proved he couldnt handle being in the big pond and 2) we needed the cash for a backup to Lucas. By getting a quality backup for Lucas we could have sent Spearing out on loan to gain valuable experience and a run of games. Shelvey came on no end due to the spell at Blackpool. Either a change in tactics or a 6 yard box poacher is needed to attempt to turn around the season.

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