Liverpool and Dalglish have received a lot of criticism this season, most of it surrounding their transfer policy and lack of points on the table but in truth, this is undeserved and unfair on King Kenny.
After all, this is the man who led Liverpool out of the abyss that was Roy Hodgson’s tenure and into the bright shining light that is the current season. So what if luck has deserted them at times this season?
And to underscore this point, here’s a look at 10 irrefutable and undeniable facts that show Liverpool’s progress under Dalglish has a lot more to do with than just points:
Note: The following stats are taken from this Guardian article with additional analysis.
Fact #1: If the Premier League started on 01 January 2012, Liverpool would be 19th in the table.
In 2012, the score reads: 8 points, 12 games. This form would put Liverpool just above Wolves who would be bottom of the table. 19th place since the start of the season for a team that boasted not so long ago that if the season started on New Year’s Day, they would be top of the table.
Top six since 01/01/2012:
1 Man Utd 28pts
2 Man City 26pts
3 Newcastle 23pts
4 Sunderland 23pts
5 Arsenal 22pts
6 Everton 22pts
Bottom six since 01/01/2012:
15 Wigan 13pts
16 Stoke 12pts
17 QPR 11pts
18 Aston Villa 10pts
19 Liverpool 8pts
20 Wolves 5pts
Fact #2: Liverpool are closer to the Championship than they are to the Champions League.
They are 16 points off fourth place and only 14 points ahead of 18th-placed Queens Park Rangers. They could still end the season closer to the top four though, although that will Wolves, QPR and one other team (Aston Villa?) to be worse than Liverpool.
4 Tottenham 58pts
8 Liverpool 42pts
18 QPR 28pts
Fact #3: Liverpool have lost six of their last seven league games.
This is relegation form even before you look up past league records and see that the last time they endured such a poor run of form was in 1953-54, when they were relegated.
In comparison, Manchester United are closing in on their fifth league title in six years (losing out by a single point in 2009/2010).
Fact #4: Liverpool’s current points per game ratio is a lowly 1.35, 42 points in 31 games.
They are safe from relegation with seven games to go, so that is definitely some progress and ensures that history (1953-54) will not be repeated. In fact, they should definitely end the season in the top 10, unless the likes of Sunderland and Swansea play better than Liverpool (which, judging from stats from the start of the season, shouldn’t be difficult).
Fact #5: Liverpool’s goals per game ratio is 1.16
With 36 goals in 31 games, this Liverpool team are the least frequent scorers since the 1991-92 season under Graeme Souness. And you remember what Jamie Carragher said about Souness? No? Here is Carra, in his autobiography talking about his admiration for Ferguson and what he would say if he met him:
“If I was in his company, I would also tell him, first off, that Manchester United never knocked Liverpool off their ******* perch, as he put it. That’s just nonsense. Graeme Souness did that.”
In fact, Liverpool have never had a season in which both their points and goal per game ratios were so low. The closest is 1923-24, when they recorded 41 points in 42 games (0.98) and 49 goals (1.17).
Fact #6: Liverpool have won 33.33% of their home games this season.
Liverpool have won only five of their 15 games at Anfield. Given that City have won 15 of 16 and are still second, you get an idea of what sort of perfection is required in this league to succeed. And if City can’t be top after winning 93.75% of their home games, where should Liverpool be after winning just 33.33% of the games at Anfield.
Oh, and remember 1953-54? Seven in 21 home games won in that relegation season.
Fact #7: Liverpool’s goal difference is +3.
Liverpool have not had such a low goal difference at the end of a season since 1964-65, when it stood at -6. At least there isn’t another link to 1953-54, where their goal difference was -29 (to their credit, they had a +11 goal difference at home and lost out away from home with a -40 goal difference).
Fact #8: Liverpool’s top scorer in the league is Luis Suárez, with seven goals in 26 games.
Only once in the Premier League era have Liverpool gone through a season without one of their players reaching double figures in league goals, 2004-05 when Milan Baros scored nine times. Remember Milan Baros? He’d be an upgrade on Andy Carroll, no?
Fact #9: 2004-05 was also the only Premier League season in which Liverpool finished below Everton in the table.
But Everton, in seventh, currently sit one place and one point above Liverpool. On current form (say, last seven games or since the start of the year), Everton seem to be ahead of their city rivals and have caught up in spectacular fashion. If their momentum holds, they could finish ahead of Liverpool again this season, although European football is unlikely for either club (and given Everton’s threadbare squad and Liverpool’s problems of concentration, maybe that’s a good thing).
Update: Jordan Beech makes the very valid point that Liverpool have qualified for the Europa League through the Carling Cup. If Dalglish can win it, he can probably stave off more criticism by pointing at the new trophy. Jokes apart, no one cares how you win it (or what you don’t win while you’re winning it), 50 years from now it’s the trophies that count. KD has his priorities spot on.
Fact #10: Liverpool have spent 22 years chasing the league title.
After those 22 years, they are now not only closer to relegation than to Europe (let’s not compare the points difference with United here), United have reached 19 league titles and are closing in on their 20th.
But no previous season has season the sort of improvement at Liverpool as we’ve seen this season under Dalglish, you only need to see the sponsorships (not sold by Dalglish but by American owners who employ excellent salesmen using United’s case study as a benchmark) and the number of English players in the team to notice this. As long as you don’t look at the league table, Andy Carroll or indeed, Liverpool matches, you’ll do just fine.