Dalglish deflects ‘what if’ talk

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has refused to speculate on what the club could have achieved this season had he been appointed sooner.

Sunday’s 3-0 win over Newcastle lifted the Reds up to fifth – ahead of Tottenham on goal difference – and their highest place of the current campaign.

Since Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson in early January with the club in 12th place the transformation has been nothing short of remarkable.

The Scot has taken 30 points from 15 matches, with his unbeaten home record showing six wins and two draws in the Premier League.

Such results point to the folly, albeit with hindsight, of overlooking the former player for a second stint as manager when Rafael Benitez departed last summer.

Hodgson was, of course, the choice of the deposed regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett even though Dalglish had made himself available and some may argue even his six months in charge was too long.

But the current incumbent was keen to avoid getting into a debate about potential scenarios had he ridden to the club’s rescue sooner than he did.

"I would rather the ‘What if?’ was if I had never taken charge," he said.

"Because it would have meant they (the players) were doing a lot better than what we were, still have had the same run and the club would have been more successful than what it is at this moment in time.

"That’s the ‘What if?’ for me."

Liverpool are seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who like Tottenham have a match in hand, and the final Champions League appears a step too far.

But with performances like that against Newcastle, which was more dogged than the fluid 5-0 win over Birmingham the previous week, there is now a realistic chance of Europa League football next season.

Maxi Rodriguez added to his hat-trick against Alex McLeish’s side with the opening goal in the 10th minute, courtesy of a deflection off Danny Simpson.

However, it was not until Dirk Kuyt stroked home a penalty for his eighth goal in seven league matches and Luis Suarez scored his third for the club since arriving in January midway through the second half that the result was secured.

Suarez was the catalyst for most of Liverpool’s good play and took the focus away from Andy Carroll, who made a 20-minute substitute appearance against his former club to a torrent of abuse from the visiting fans.

"Luis is always getting in there and is always a threat. It is just reward for the work he put in on the pitch," said Dalglish of the Uruguay international’s goal.

On Carroll, returning from a knee injury, he added: "I don’t think it (the abuse) will be put to bed. When he goes to St James’ Park next season he will get it again.

"He is a young boy but he has broad shoulders."