Former Anfield star Mark Lawrenson places blame for Liverpool’s poor league form firmly with the players.
Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson does not expect his old Anfield team-mate Kenny Dalglish to be sacked anytime soon but says their upcoming clash against Aston Villa is a “must-win” game.
Liverpool may have won the League Cup and be in the semi-finals of the FA Cup but their Premier League form has been in freefall of late, with Sunday’s 2-0 loss away to Newcastle United their sixth defeat in seven league matches.
This latest reverse was compounded by goalkeeper Pepe Reina being sent off for headbutting James Perch, while striker Andy Carroll, signed by Dalglish for £35 million (£56m) from Newcastle, stormed off after being substituted following yet another appearance without a goal.
But Lawrenson, who played alongside Dalglish in the Liverpool team that dominated English football in the 1980s, said talk of the Anfield great being dismissed was premature.
“I think one or two people are (mentioning him being sacked), because as a manager in the Premier League, it’s a crisis if you lose a couple of games,” the former central defender told BBC Radio Five.
“They have Villa at home at the weekend and I hate saying it’s a must-win, but it is.
“We live in an instant media world, but I think the Liverpool owners are in it for the end game. I think he (Dalglish) will be fine, but at any level, you have to win games. I really don’t believe he will be sacked.”
A place in next season’s Champions League appears beyond Liverpool’s reach and Lawrenson said the ongoing uncertainty over whether they will move from Anfield could hamper their ability to return to the lucrative tournament.
“Another problem at Liverpool is the stadium. It’s really difficult to know where they’re going to go,” he said.
“Until they get into the Champions League places they can’t attract Champions League players, but how do they get there? Pay stupid money?
“They’re trying to play catch-up with other clubs. Anfield is full at 40,000 every week, but other clubs… Arsenal get 60,000, Manchester United 75,000, and then you have Manchester City and Chelsea.”
Lawrenson also criticised Dalglish’s quartet of big-money signins — Carroll, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam, who between them cost some £85m — for failing to produce the goods.
“I think people know what Kenny is trying to do. The biggest problem is, Adam, Downing, Carroll and Henderson between them have contributed six league goals.
“You should be looking at 25-30 goals between them.
“Adam hasn’t done it but the four of them haven’t. Andy Carroll hasn’t been the same player. It’s the old ‘take the boy out of Newcastle’. He’s not been the same.”