IT MIGHT be the time of year when miracles happen, but Kenny Dalglish doesn’t look like a man in need of divine intervention.
If the Liverpool manager is feeling the heat amidst a wretched run of league results, he’s not showing it.
Mug of tea in hand, Dalglish cut a relaxed figure at Melwood yesterday as he discussed leading the Reds out of their current malaise.
“Who picks me up? I’ve never been down,” he insisted.
“I’ve been disappointed, but I’ve never been down.”
However, there is no escaping the fact that a worrying slump is in danger of turning into something more serious.
The last time Liverpool suffered six defeats in seven league games was in 1953/54, when they ended up getting relegated. Only Wolves since the turn of the year have collected fewer points in the top flight.
Dalglish knows the only way to stem the tide of criticism is to halt a worrying slide which has allowed Everton to clamber into seventh place ahead of next weekend’s all- Merseyside FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The boss’s belief in the talent at his disposal remains unshaken, and he’s confident of getting a response to last Sunday’s 2-0 reverse at Newcastle when the Reds face Aston Villa at Anfield tomorrow.
“Everybody is disappointed with the results – it’s much more enjoyable when you are winning games,” he said.
“Obviously, the result last weekend was on the back of some other poor results which no-one is pleased with and no-one wants to accept.
“The only way we’re going to correct it is to work as hard as we possibly can. We have to work for each other and with each other, and believe in what we’re doing.
“We don’t want them to be happy when they’ve just lost a game. They know what the football club stands for.
“They are disappointed but they’re working hard and they have great determination to correct the problems that we have.
“The way they have trained this week has been very impressive. Nobody shirks, it’s always of a good quality with a good tempo.
“Sometimes, there are things outside our jurisdiction which influences results in matches and we can’t do anything about that. We need to change something that’s within our jurisdiction.
“There is undoubted ability here. There’s no-one who has ever shirked responsibility and nobody will. They will stand up and be counted.
“A few goals would really help us but we aren’t going to get them presented to us. We’re going to have to work really hard to get that.”
Dalglish insists he has taken no notice of the backlash to last weekend’s defeat at St James’ Park when a miserable afternoon was compounded by the indiscipline shown by Andy Carroll and Pepe Reina late on.
Carroll stormed straight down the tunnel after being substituted prior to Reina being sent off following a bust-up with Toon defender James Perch. The manager declined to confirm whether either had been hit in the pocket.
“I don’t know how anyone else has reacted, all I know is that we reacted properly, promptly and correctly,” Dalglish said.
“Both Pepe and Andy were frustrated and disappointed with the way the game had gone and the result. That was dealt with and done and dusted on Sunday. Anything that had to be done was done there and then so it didn’t fester for anybody.
“We’ve learnt our lessons from that game. We have moved on and put the frustration and disappointment to one side. The best way to pick yourself up is to put on a winning performance. The focus is on getting a positive result on Saturday.”
With Reina starting a three-match ban, Dalglish will hand a debut to Brazilian keeper Alexander Doni.
The 32-year-old shot-stopper has waited patiently for an opportunity following his arrival from Roma last summer.
“Doni has a lot of experience having played in Serie A,” Dalglish said.
“He has been excellent with the way he has worked and improved since he’s been here. He’s a credit to himself and he also has a bit of a command of the language now.
“He’s been unfortunate to have such a good goalkeeper in front of him.
“It’s difficult for anyone to come in who hasn’t played for a while. But he will be ready to step up and play.”
Dalglish also brushed off speculation that owners Fenway Sports Group are demanding answers in the wake of recent results into why the Reds have fallen so short in their pursuit of Champions League qualification.
The boss, who will submit a report to FSG as planned at the end of the season, insists his relationship with owners John W Henry and Tom Werner remains unaltered.
Dalglish said: “It’s their football club and we keep in regular contact.
“They talk to us regularly and the conversations we’ve had are on the same basis as what we’ve had with them before.
“We totally respect them and they respect us. It’s normal to fill in a report, even when you’re at school you do that.
“There is communication with the owners every week after every game and nothing has changed.”