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Thursday 16 August 2018

Dalglish puts faith in youth

EXACTLY six months ago, Liverpool stood accused of looking to the past to cure the problems of the present. The return of Kenny Dalglish was seen as little more than an attempt to ease the pain of Anfield's inexorable demise.

How wrong such an assessment was. The Scot's appointment was not a symptom of a club swaddled by its gilded history. It was evidence of a side with an insatiable, impatient appetite for the future.

Within weeks, Dalglish had seen the club's transfer record smashed to sign a 22-year-old striker from Newcastle United. In the chaotic aftermath of Fernando Torres's departure, perhaps the message inherent in Andy Carroll's £35m move was lost. It looked a panicked, desperate move, an attempt to lessen the impact, to cushion the blow.

Today, after the completion of Jordan Henderson's £16m move from Sunderland, there should be no such uncertainty.

Liverpool will not win the Premier League title in 2012. The following season, though, and for a decade after that, the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group, expect success.

They crave glory. They will, in the words of John Henry when he completed his £300m takeover, “do whatever it takes to win”.

And they have made clear how they intend to do so. Young talent, bought at a premium if necessary, and preferably locally sourced.

First Carroll, now Henderson (pictured right). Should Liverpool land their other targets, that gulf may not yawn quite so wide in the future.

Charlie Adam, of Blackpool, and Aston Villa's Stewart Downing will be next in line, for £20m more the pair, lending Liverpool's side a vision and a width sadly lacking in recent years. But they, as well as Jose Enrique, the Newcastle left-back, are signings of immediacy.

BACK-UP

Where FSG, and Dalglish, and Director of Football Damien Comolli, believe Liverpool's real future lies is in the likes of Connor Wickham, the Ipswich striker who the club hope to bring in as back-up to Carroll and Luis Suarez for around £10m.

Dalglish has given his blessing to Comolli to sign the likes of Henderson and Wickham along with the more practical arrivals of Roma's Brazilian goalkeeper Doni and the Rennes midfielder Sylvain Marveaux.

The instinctive reaction is to wonder where all of these pieces fit into Dalglish's jigsaw, but the Liverpool manager, now ensconced on the throne he wishes he never vacated, may see such things as temporal trivialities.

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