James Lawton: Dalglish's smoke and mirrors really insults our intelligence

The starkest statistic is Liverpool's failure to win no more than five of 15 home games

Having spent more than £100m on a Liverpool team which looks increasingly unfit for purpose, Kenny Dalglish is not exactly awash with options before he faces a critical re-assessment of his performance by American owner John W Henry.

Of the few he has, one should be seized upon without a moment's delay. It is, beyond a professional obligation to pass on basic information with some small degree of civility, a vow of omerta. Silence, certainly, would have been invested with a particularly golden hue during the Liverpool collapse against Wigan, which followed so quickly a statement from the manager which betrayed, utterly, the tradition of a club he enhanced so brilliantly, first as a player, then a manager in his first term.

Dalglish's always prickly demeanour has hardened markedly in the first months of a year disfigured by the Luis Suarez controversy and Premier League form which has left Liverpool bracketed with Queen's Park Rangers in 18th place, better only than disintegrating Wolves.

Even so, this was hardly adequate preparation for a pre-match slighting of his critics in which he seemed to separate himself from the meaning of all Liverpool's past success.

Dalglish said: "People should take an intelligence check. Judging our performance by league position alone is disrespectful. There's a bigger picture. In 30 years' time it will be remembered they won the Carling Cup – and maybe the FA Cup – in 2012. If that happens, the league position will be overlooked." Bigger picture? Unfortunately not. This is smoke and mirrors without licence. Indeed, the smoke might be coming from the rabbit hole housing Alice's Wonderland and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The league position of Liverpool, as Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley never tired of saying, is not some disposable guide to the team's progress but an unshakeable measurement of its intrinsic worth.


Even Dalglish's old team-mate and staunch friend Alan Hansen recently agreed that "Liverpool are not a cup team".

Of course they are not – the cup triumphs, including their English record-breaking haul in Europe, have always been seen as the inevitable outcrop of deep and relentlessly reseeded strength. No doubt the last success in the Champions League in Istanbul was something of an exception in that it happened, in the most extraordinary circumstances, seven years ago and without any significant impact on the domestic league front.

Now, bizarrely, Dalglish announces that a Carling Cup win – an extremely tentative one against Cardiff City – is some landmark of inexorable progress. As John McEnroe might observe, he cannot be serious.

The team they supplanted at Wembley was, of course, Championship-bound Birmingham City, who found in a random 90 minutes the will to wreck an Arsenal team which a few weeks earlier had been contending for all the game's major honours.

Liverpool have taken eight points from their last 11 games. Roy Hodgson, the man who was banished from Anfield with mocking laughter in his ears and was hired to save West Bromwich Albion's Premier League life, managed to glean more than that.

Mere statistics, you may say, but they do happen to be irrefutable in what they say about Liverpool's current plight.

They also happen to be rather dear to the heart of the American ownership and a key part of their appraisals of the progress of the baseball branch of the business prosecuted by the Boston Red Sox.

Having handed Dalglish and the club's director of football, Damien Comolli, the money to buy Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique, Sebastien Coates and Charlie Adam – and complete the pursuit of Suarez – the Fenway Sports Group is not likely to be either enamoured or feeling any need for an intelligence check when it applies some of the same criteria to the soccer division.

Indeed, the sharp edge of Fenway's analysis is likely to get especially acute when it measures the distance that still separates Liverpool from £30m worth of Champions League revenue.

After the Carling Cup triumph, Comolli suggested that there were still other boxes to tick, including at least fourth place in the league and success in the FA Cup. It seemed like a bad attack of hubris at the time and recent results have only confirmed the diagnosis.

Beyond the damaging statistics, of which the starkest is surely Liverpool's failure to win more than five of 15 home league matches, is Dalglish's willingness to question the foundation of all of Liverpool's past achievements.

It was defined simply enough by Shankly – and always endorsed by Paisley. Shankly said: "The league is a marathon not a sprint. It is where you find out if you are entitled to believe in how good you are."

If the contradicting of this historical truth does not bring on omerta, nothing will.

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam