Kuyt: Reds close to title tilt

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