Dirk Kuyt's last season in a Liverpool shirt wasn't exactly overwhelming--he found opportunities limited during Kenny Dalglish's first full season back as boss, with Jordan Henderson preferred regardless of performances on the right flank, and when the Dutchman was selected he often found his touch and ability to finish lacking. He still had some wonderful moments, of course, with the winner against Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup one of the season's brightest memories, and what looked like the potential winner in the League Cup final in extra time against Cardiff.
His departure became something of a foregone conclusion despite the positive impact he'd provided over the years, with a clear preference for first-team football outweighing the sentiment of staying at a club with whom he'd become a working class hero. Few could blame him; he wasn't the flashiest or most conistent, but he was a player deserving of regular playing time, and whether it was under Kenny Dalglish or a new manager, that wasn't something that could be guaranteed.
Kuyt's found both regular playing time and increased domestic success since moving to Fenerbache over the summer, as the Turkish club currently sit in second place behind Galatasaray. If the table holds that's good enough for Champions League football, which Kuyt got another taste of--with three goals in four matchs--back in August before they were eliminated by Spartak Moscow. They're now matched up with BATE Borisov in the Europa League, and tonight will host the second leg with the tie level at 0-0.
But while he's been busy in Turkey, Kuyt's managed to keep an eye on Liverpool, and he's optimistic about where the club are headed under Brendan Rodgers:
"Brendan Rodgers was actually quite good to me because he was one of the first people to ring me and wish me all the best with my career. I think he is a very good manager and it is difficult sometimes but I think if they give him the time he can build a good team.
"They have very good games with some disappointing results. What I can make of it from here is that they are building a team and when you are doing that there can be ups and downs."
It's hard to say whether or not the Dutchman would have found much more playing time under Rodgers than he did during Dalglish's season and a half. At times--most notably the homestretch of the 2010-2011 season--he was at the heart of Liverpool's most attractive football along with Luis Suarez, Maxi, and Raul Meireles, but as the playing time faded so did much of his effectiveness, and by the time Rodgers arrived, Kuyt's exodus to Turkey was all but settled.
I think he very well could have had an influence, adding some of the experience and guidance that Liverpool have so badly lacked at times this season. Never the best technically, but someone who could be relied upon to put in a full shift for the club regardless of the opponent. Now, though, we're left to hope that he's found what he's looking for in Turkey, and that his assurances about where the club could be headed under Brendan Rodgers prove true.