Easy Liverpool win over Bolton shows Kenny Dalglish is on right track

• Manager's spending spree pays quick dividends
• Luis Suárez shows his worth once again

When asked the difference between this Liverpool side and the one that stumbled to victory over Bolton on New Year's Day, Owen Coyle replied it was £110m. "If you gave me £110m, I am sure I would have a team that looked dangerous every time they walk on to the pitch," said the Bolton manager. "They are on an upward spiral but finance plays a big part in football."

It is not quite that simple, otherwise the galáctico project at Real Madrid would have produced a gaggle of European Cups. However, Kenny Dalglish points out that money is an almost essential prerequisite for success and he has always employed it – successfully at Blackburn Rovers and with a rather more scattergun approach at Newcastle. At Liverpool John W Henry's investment is being thrillingly returned.

During Dalglish's tortured attempt to stamp his authority on St James' Park, one writer recalled visiting his house in County Durham and seeing the televisions turned to every conceivable European football channel. The transfer market was changing radically and Dalglish resembled an old blues singer confronted by a 56-track recording studio, overwhelmed by choice.

This time his biggest outlay has been on British footballers. In the reprint of his memoir, My Liverpool Home, Dalglish generously acknowledged that it was the club's director of football, Damien Comolli, who arranged Luis Suárez's transfer, although he could have vetoed it. However, the three midfielders who controlled this game – Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing – were his own work.

There were question marks over them all. Before Blackpool Adam had not enjoyed Rangers, where the pressures of Ibrox are akin to Anfield's. Henderson was young and his last season for Sunderland had been patchy. Downing had not established himself as an England international despite all the promise. They have gelled beautifully. It may not seem so to the exiled remnants of Roy Hodgson's regime or even Andy Carroll, who spent most of the match on the bench, but Dalglish tends to run happy training grounds, even at Newcastle.

Here it showed on the pitch, where Liverpool enjoyed a width they seldom made use of even when Rafael Benítez's sides were at their most expansive. The opening goal, an exquisite curling pass from Suárez, met first time by Downing and then curved in by Henderson after Jussi Jaaskelainen had somehow saved the first effort, must have been as good as anything fashioned by any of the Liverpool sides Dalglish had been involved in.

"It is a combination of everything," said Daniel Agger, part of a defence that was not troubled until too late for a Bolton recovery. "We have a strong squad, a good manager with good coaches around him. The way he wants to play is pass and move with a high tempo. Ever since I joined Liverpool [in 2006], that is how we have wanted to play but it just hasn't worked like that. You saw there was some quality passing in the team and that we are playing it on the ground. I think this is what most people want to see. But this season we have to be more consistent."

Early season statistics are like canapes at a wedding reception – enjoyed but never remembered. However, this was Liverpool's best start to the season since 1994-95, when Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler stepped into Anfield's limelight. Suárez did not emulate Fowler's record of scoring in Liverpool's opening three league fixtures but he did everything but find the net. Coyle acknowledged that Gary Cahill's head may have been turned by Arsenal's interest but the rest of his body was twisted every which way trying to keep the Uruguayan at bay. Suarez may have to be rested but for now he is playing on the adrenaline generated by the night in Buenos Aires, where on the far shore of the River Plate, Uruguay celebrated their greatest footballing triumph in more than half a century – winning the Copa America.

Up in the stands, not far from Alan Hansen, sat another of the men who improbably won that cup, the tall figure of the young centre-half, Sebastian Coates. He is the latest product of what with chip and PIN technology is something only a football manager will soon possess – a chequebook.

comments powered by Disqus