Liverpool F.C. -San Fernando Rally As Dalglish Begins to Turn the Tide

Iain SwanContributor IIJanuary 16, 2011

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09:  Liverpool Manager Kenny Dalglish shakes hands with Fernando Torres as he substitutes him during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 3rd round match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on January 9, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Lo! it came to pass , that on the Feast of Epiphany the three wise men from the East(Coast of America) did beckon the chosen one back from the Holy Land and he was proclaimed the messiah.
Joy at the return of the prodigal ( if I may mix my Biblical metaphors!) was short lived. Two defeats on the trot ,  the first from their hated rivals, Manchester United  eliminating them from F.A. Cup , their best chance of silverware  this season, the second plunging them into the relegation mire.

Dalglish looked less like "King Kenny" and more like King Canute, unable to turn back the tide of despair that has engulfed Liverpool and threatens to wash them up on the less salubrious beaches of the Coca Cola Championship if they are not careful.

But at Anfield on Sunday there were  the first signs   that "The Second Coming "  may  produce  a miracle  after all.  Whilst Liverpool's first half performance hardly brought back memories  of their seventies and eighties heyday,there were signs of improvement , it was a typical derby , played at breakneck speed,full of passion and commitment, but with little  skill  and sophistication  - indeed the most invigorating moment was the Kop's welcome for Dalglish complete with an impassioned rendition of the club album "You'll Never Walk Alone" before kick off.  There were however,  a couple of moments  that suggested better days ahead for the home fans.

One was the opening goal scored by Raul Meirelles , one of Roy Hodgson's  many summer signings who have yet  to fully convince the faithful that they have what it takes to play for the once mighty reds, the other was a run and shot by  Fernando Torres  which cannoned of the post.

It was the Spaniard's best moment in a first half performance that  suggested  Dalglish  may be able to coax out of him  something like the displays that delighted English football in his first two seasons in the Premiership. It was the lack of such that has, more than anything, marked Liverpool's decline  over the past two seasons.

Dogged by injury last season which preceded a dreadfully disappointing World Cup, despite Spain's victory,  Torres returned to Merseyside  lacking fitness and  with a new manager; Roy Hodgson having replaced his Spanish mentor, Rafael Benitez. The striker has lived up to his nickname El Nino - the kid , by appearing to sulk like a child  at the departure of the man who brought him to these shores from Madrid. During the opening half of the season as Hodgson struggled to steer the reds through the  takeover battle and poor run of form Torres  contributed little to the cause. 

To this observer, Torres' body language was indicative of someone who  was working his ticket.  He never seemed happy under the Hodgson regime as he battled for fitness  and form and, had Dalglish not been appointed , it seemed odds on that  Torres would engineer  a transfer this summer. Although where he would have gone remains a mystery , his star has waned since the days Chelsea and Manchester City were allegedly willing  to pay £50million for his services and a return to his native land seems unlikely as the only clubs that could afford him and satisfy his ambitions ; Barcelona and Real Madrid have better options . With Benitez  recently losing his job as coach of Internazionale, another door appears to have closed

Torres , who reputedly earns £110,000 per week owes Liverpool : it was the former European Champions who put him on the  footballing map following his transfer from Atletico Madrid in 2007. In Spain he was a promising youngster , nothing more, it was at Anfield in his first two seasons that he became a scoring sensation and made the continent take notice.

In his defence, the twenty six year old has been the victim of Benitez 's unfathomable transfer policy . First Peter Crouch was allowed to leave Anfield, then Robbie Keane  was hired expensively and then inexplicably sold at a loss six months later, leaving Torres to shoulder most of the striking  duties on his own without a partner or adequate back up  when his notoriously weak hamstrings would fail him. Let's not forget , also that footballers are human beings. There may be  some  other, unpublicised  factors in his private  life  that may  be affecting  him.

That said, Hodgson and the Liverpool fans that idolise him should have expected more  from their star striker than a couple of sensational goals against Chelsea  and the surly demeanour he has shown recently. To quote Liverpool's most famous sons , the club face a " long and winding road" back to where they once were but  if Dalglish can get  Torres back on track  they may find the streets paved with gold and silver once again.