Ghostbuster Dalglish: Forget emotion, this is all about the points, says Liverpool boss

14 January 2011 11:03
Once again it will be all about that man. There are many stories surrounding the latest Merseyside derby but, when put next to Kenny Dalglish, they pale into insignificance.

No matter that Everton manager David Moyes is attempting to shake a monkey off his back. Forget that the erratic form of Fernando Torres will be heavily scrutinised and that Merseyside's big two are closer to the bottom of the table than the top. At Anfield tomorrow, all eyes will be on Dalglish.

Plenty to ponder: Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish

The return of Dalglish as Liverpool manager has dominated the headlines and, after defeats at Old Trafford and Bloomfield Road, this is the first chance for the Kop to welcome back their favourite son. It is not an opportunity that will be missed.

But while many of the 45,000 who will cram into Anfield will wallow in nostalgia before the latest instalment of this squabble between Red and Blue, do not for a moment think Dalglish will get caught up in the emotion.

'The points are the most important thing,' the Scot said in that matter-of-fact style yesterday. 'I don't think there is any danger of any of the players underestimating the importance of this game. It's all very well being romantic but the truth of the matter is we have got to start winning games.'

As Dalglish will have discovered in the past six days, though, that will prove easier said than done. The Liverpool squad he inherited from Roy Hodgson is a pale shadow of the one he walked away from in February 1991 and confidence is at an all-time low.

Certainly Everton have never had a better opportunity to record their first win at Anfield since September 1999 and Moyes will have gleaned from his visit to Blackpool on Wednesday evening that Liverpool, minus Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, are there to be got at.

This is the first time since February 2002 that Liverpool have contested a derby without their captain and vice-captain and that leaves them even more vulnerable to suffering what was unthinkable seven days ago - three defeats in a week.

'There is not a team in the Premier League that wouldn't appreciatehaving Stevie or Carra in their team,' Dalglish pointed out. 'We are nodifferent. They are two big players. They won't be available on Sundayso they are not important to us this Sunday.

'The important ones are the ones who are available and, from withinthat, we have to find leadership. There is not any one person who willbe designated as the leader. They all have responsibilities and theycannot shy away from them. I don't think they will.'

Fragile: Blackpool exposed Liverpool's lack of confidence

If Liverpool do buckle under the weight of expectation, Everton have the players to capitalise but questions can be asked about their mettle, too. In 35 away games against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal since March 2002, Everton have not won one.

Evertonians have often criticised Moyes for failing to take the initiative at Anfield - his team suffered defeats last season (1-0) and in 2006 (3-1) after playing for more than an hour against 10 men - but he bristles when it is suggested Everton should have done better.

'Maybe you should be turning around and saying the four draws Everton have got at Anfield were unbelievable, rather than we haven't won there,' he said.

'To have drawn so many games at Anfield over that period is incredible when you look at the difference in spending between the clubs.

'Last season was probably the best we've played at Anfield since I've been in charge but we couldn't score the goals. The gulf was big when I came here and we've done what we can to close it. We have tried to build slowly and get closer to them. That's what has happened.'

Moyes will be invited to share a drink with Dalglish after the game, not something that was always the case when Rafa Benitez was in charge, and the respect he has for his compatriot, both as a player and a manager, is enormous.

'Kenny was always someone you watched,' said Moyes, who also launched his career at Celtic. 'It was his ability to turn and score, the great intelligence and awareness.'

Looking back, however, is not something Dalglish will be doing when he takes his seat in the dugout. His only thoughts will be on triggering a revival when he faces a team against whom he enjoyed great success during his first stint at Anfield.

'If you keep thinking it's going to work against you then you're not going to get very far,' he said.

'If you believe you can turn it then you've got a better chance of being more fortunate than what we have been. If you look at our team, I don't see anything weak. That's a positive.'

 Twitter ye not! Dalglish backs Babel but warns Liverpool players over siteThe Friday Five: Memorable clashes between Liverpool and Everton

 Explore more:People: Kenny Dalglish, Rafa Benitez, Jamie Carragher, Roy Hodgson, Fernando Torres, David Moyes, Steven Gerrard Places: Liverpool

Source: Daily_Mail

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 16:17