Kuyt: Reds close to title tilt

Dirk Kuyt believes Liverpool are much closer to being title contenders than people think and one transfer window may be all that is required.

Two summers ago, having run Manchester United a close second with a record 86 points tally, it appeared the Reds were finally ready to take the final step and end a championship drought dating back to 1990.

However, off-field matters took a heavy toll. The financial problems incurred by then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and the political in-fighting behind the scenes was bad enough but what really derailed the club was their transfer policy.

Veteran defensive linchpin Sami Hyypia had already left having failed to secure the contract he wanted but it was the departure of Xabi Alonso, along with Alvaro Arbeloa, to Real Madrid which did the most damage.

The cultured Spain midfielder was never properly replaced as £17million signing Alberto Aquilani arrived injured from Roma and struggled with his fitness until the latter stages of the season.

By that time Liverpool’s Champions League hopes had disappeared and it would not be long before manager Rafael Benitez would go the same way after the club finished seventh, their worst performance for a decade.

It seemed the decline was continuing this season under Roy Hodgson but since the arrival of new owners in the former of Fenway Sports Group and the return of Kenny Dalglish as manager there has been a marked change of emphasis.

The change was no more apparent than in yesterday’s 5-0 thrashing of Birmingham at Anfield and Kuyt, who scored his seventh goal in six Barclays Premier League matches, believes the good times are just around the corner.

"It has a bit of the same feeling as 2009 when we were really close and finished second," said the Dutchman.

"I had the feeling that if we made a few good signings we would be right up there and that is exactly the case now.

"With the arrival of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll we have two top quality signings but also with the arrival of the young lads who are doing well things are looking much more promising.

"If we can add a few other good players I think we can compete with the best.

"We have already shown in the second half of the season we can beat Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and draw at Arsenal.

"We are close but everyone is thinking we have to move forward and we have to get better.

"Hopefully we have learned from 2009 and if we can move forward we will be there and the way I see it that will happen."

The effect Dalglish has had on the squad since his appointment in January has been nothing short of remarkable and that was highlighted in the demolition of Birmingham in a complete team performance.

In his first start for six weeks Maxi Rodriguez scored a hat-trick to double his tally for the season, Kuyt continued his good form in front of goal while even forgotten man Joe Cole was on target with the late fifth as Alex McLeish’s side crumbled.

"It is going well but it is all to do with us working together," added Kuyt.

"With the arrival of Luis and Andy it is easier to play with top quality players but to see the young lads breaking through is very good.

"Everyone is speaking about Flanno and Robbo (teenage full-backs John Flanagan and Jack Robinson) but Jay Spearing is also doing well.

"It is exciting to see that and if we are able to add a few more players the future will look brighter than it did seven or eight months ago."

While Liverpool can continue looking up, targeting fifth-placed Tottenham,