On a day when Swansea supporters dressed up as Elvis Presley, Kenny Dalglish was left all shook up but adamant he will not be the next casualty of the blood-letting at Liverpool.
Dalglish awoke yesterday morning to newspaper reports that Roberto Martinez is being headhunted for his job and a 14th defeat of the season was not the ideal way to end a campaign that had promised so much. He may have guided Liverpool to their first trophy in six years with the Carling Cup in February but the unpalatable fact remains that this was their joint lowest finish, of eighth, in the Premier League.
Damian Comolli, the director of football, and head of sports science Peter Brukner have already paid the price for what is considered a season of underachievement and the Anfield purge may not be over just yet. Transfer spending is also likely to be reined in over the summer, but last night Dalglish did not have the air of a man expecting to be dismissed as he considered the wreckage of another setback, with Danny Graham’s goal enough to provide a fitting end to a marvellous season for Swansea.
And Dalglish also refused to hide away from the points tally, that has also seen bitter rivals Everton finish above them for the first time since 2005. “I would expect the owners to have more dignity and integrity than to believe a story in the newspapers. We’ll not run away from the points tally. We’ll face up to reality. We’re not trying to hide behind anything and say the points tally is satisfactory to anybody that works or supports Liverpool. The performances have been excellent in a lot of cases but not the points tally so we’ll try our best to correct that.”
While Dalglish is preparing to meet John W Henry and Tom Werner in the coming days, Brendan Rodgers will be viewing the season as a triumph. Rodgers was irritated in the summer when a prominent bookie insisted there would be more chance of seeing Elvis than the club staying up.
But his passaholics finished a comfortable 11 points above the dreaded dotted line and have beaten Manchester City, Arsenal and now Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium. Graham, the forward, has been one of their many success stories since his £3.5m move from Watford and this winner was his 100th career goal. It was a goal that never looked like coming, as both sides struggled to raise themselves in a lacklustre encounter. In a sterile first half Graham came within inches of turning in Joe Allen’s cross at the far post while Liverpool needed Alexander Doni, deputising for the ill Pepe Reina, to produce an excellent save to prevent Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick from finding the bottom corner. Doni was again impressive as he denied Nathan Dyer from close range, after typically inventive approach work from Swansea.
Andy Carroll had terrorised Chelsea in his last two games but was quiet here though he did create a chance out of nothing in the 56th minute with an acrobatic overhead kick but Michel Vorm pulled off a stunning save.
Liverpool looked the more likely to snatch it but out of nothing came Graham’s winner four minutes from time. Angel Rangel was sent clear down the right and the defender’s cross caught out Liverpool’s defence to find Graham whose finish was deadly.
“The players were written off and told they couldn’t play at this level but they’ve consistently met the challenges,” Rodgers said.
“For us to finish 11th and play this way has been brilliant. To finish 17th was the objective but to miss out on tenth by a goal is something that makes me very proud.”
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