Alan Green: Liverpool can’t get carried away after finally ending famine
I admit defeat. Having argued for so long, so forcibly, that gaining Champions League qualification is more important these days than winning a trophy, I have to accept that isn’t the case, at least for the majority of Liverpool fans.
The celebrations at Wembley on Sunday were long and loud as Liverpool claimed their 8th League Cup win, making it 41 major trophies in the club’s proud history, and ending the barren run of six years without one. Bill Shankly never said truer: Liverpool Football Club exists to win trophies and, arguably, LFC is on the march.
That was certainly the message emanating from the lips of an emotional Kenny Dalglish after the dramatic and hard-won victory against Cardiff who did the Championship proud. It was music to the ears of the onlooking owner John W. Henry and the chairman Tom Werner who’d flown in from the States for the occasion. Their investment looks sound.
And Steven Gerrard, amidst his admirable concern for his cousin Anthony who’d missed the critical penalty, was soon saying he couldn’t wait to beat Stoke and make it through to Wembley again: for the FA Cup semi-final; he had the ‘taste’.
Indeed, there were echoes of the similar shoot-out victory against Birmingham at Cardiff in 2001 that led to an FA Cup final win against Arsenal, who were clear favourites on the day. There’ll be few fears in Liverpool minds about what might lie ahead in this season’s competition even if it is Chelsea or Spurs. The odds will shorten on Liverpool doing a cup double.
But that doesn’t mean that all is right: that the club stands on the brink of another golden era. Even on Sunday there were clear signs that there remains a lot of work for Dalglish to do.
Not for the first time one of his selections baffled me and, I suspect, a majority of Liverpool supporters. Just why was Jordan Henderson picked on the right of midfield? That’s not and never has been his position. He always played in the centre for Sunderland and, if he is to make as a top class player, which I doubt, that’s where it’ll be.
Liverpool fans hope Henderson will be another ‘Lucas’: that they will learn to love him. As it was, Craig Bellamy, Dirk Kuyt, who made a telling contribution when he came on, or Maxi Rodriguez would have been a better bet.
Was Dalglish making a point in the presence of Henry and Werner? All the players that he’d bought were in the starting eleven. Downing had a good game but Adam, Carroll and even Suarez flitted in and out. Had they all played well Cardiff would have been swept aside as Brighton were last Sunday.
Nevertheless winning a Cup competition is mostly about getting over the line and not necessarily about how you play. And Liverpool won.
Before they face Stoke in the FA Cup, they now play two very important league games, starting with Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday. Now what was that point I was making about the importance of finishing fourth?