Kenny Dalglish has admitted that the confidence of his Liverpool players needs lifting ahead of this weekend's Merseyside derby. His team lost 2-1 at Blackpool on Wednesday night and face Merseyside rivals Everton at Anfield on Sunday afternoon in front of principal owner John W. Henry, who will be flying into the country for the game.
Liverpool have now lost both their games since re-appointing Dalglish as manager almost 20 years after he last held the post. The 59-year-old Scot was recruited as a caretaker for the season after Roy Hodgson left by mutual consent last Saturday morning.
Dalglish acknowledged that the players' confidence could improve, but said that their situation was a natural and unsurprising reaction to the club's plight: they are currently 13th in the Premier League, three points behind Blackpool and have played one game more than them.
"It doesn't disappoint me when players' belief in themselves is not as great as it should be, it's understandable," Dalglish said. "They want to do better and that reflects well on the football club. As long as they are prepared to have a go we will go with them; the only time there will be harsh words from me will be when there is no effort and I don't think we will see that from them. We want to win matches so we will analyse this match and then we have the responsibility for improving it."
With Henry in Liverpool this weekend, recruitment in the January transfer window is likely to be a topic of conversation between the two, as well as in discussions with the director of football strategy, Damien Comolli. Dalglish said that he has yet to discuss the subject with the club's hierarchy.
"I'm sure they'll improve," he said, "but whether there's going to be any players coming in or moving around I don't know. I can always make a request, it might not always be accepted. I've never broached the subject with money being available with the owners. If there is the possibility of bringing somebody in we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. At the moment I've not asked for anybody and I've not enquired for finances."
The 20-year-old Spanish striker Dani Pacheco is hopeful of first-team football after Dalglish's arrival. "I can keep working hard every day at Melwood in training and when the chance comes I have to take it," he said. "I hope I can challenge for a place and it's a new challenge for all of us, especially the younger players because Kenny knows every player in the academy."
Winger Ryan Babel has accepted a Football Association charge of improper conduct over a post made on Twitter showing Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt, in the aftermath of Liverpool's FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford. Babel has requested a personal hearing, which will take place on Monday.