Jamie Carragher has told Liverpool’s fans and owners that whoever replaces Kenny Dalglish the club are in no position to challenge for the Premier league title.
It is now 22 years since Liverpool won their 18th, and last title, and the club has just endured its equal lowest finish in that time, eighth. Carragher, who has played in 16 of those seasons, said: “We've only challenged for the title a couple of times in my time, which is obviously not what we'd like, and not good enough for us, but at the moment I don't think the title is in everyone's mind.
“I don't think we're the type of team that could just go out and spend £200m like Manchester City or Chelsea can, and you've virtually guaranteed yourself a good chance of winning the title. I think we have to build a little bit slower than that. Let's try and get back in that top four, then once you cement your place there, you go again, as we did with Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez. We were in the Champions League for a couple of years and then had that tilt at the title and just fell short. At the moment the task is to try and get back into that top four.”
Carragher said Dalglish’s dismissal saddened, but did not surprise him, because of the rumours anticipating it. “In the domestic cup competitions we've had a fantastic season, but in the league we all know it was a disappointment,” he said. “Obviously you have to respect the owners and the decisions they make. They felt that was in the best interests of the club, so you have to go along with the decision. I'm disappointed for Kenny because he loves the club passionately. It was a sad day for him.”
Carragher was speaking at ITV Sport’s Euro 2012 launch and he got an early taste of what working alongside Roy Keane would be like when the former Manchester United midfielder said of Dalglish’s exit: “I think he deserved a bit more time. There were a lot of changes at the club last year. I think you need to look at the senior players at Liverpool and say…’its well and good saying Kenny was the greatest, come Saturday afternoon I don’t think some of you showed it enough how great he was’. It’s strange isn’t it? Everyone has a lot of good things to say about a manager when he is gone, but they don’t do it when he’s there.”
To be fair to Carragher he admitted: “I think the new players have had some unfair criticism. They're still trying to understand what the club's about. The players who have been there a long time like myself should get a little bit more criticism really because we know the standards required and we haven't lived up to that expectation. It's the squad that hasn't done it for Kenny really, but the manager carries the can.”
Whoever takes over will have to work in Dalglish’s long shadow, a factor which haunted perception of his predecessor Roy Hodgson. “That's part of managing Liverpool,” said carragher, “it's one of the biggest jobs around and a lot of pressure comes with that, even in pre-season. You know, we didn't win any games in pre-season under Kenny and I had people on the phone asking what was going on. That's Liverpool. That's the pressure of being a manager or player at Liverpool. You're expected to win every week.”