Posts Tagged ‘carling cup’
Liverpool cemented their position as the most successful club in the history of the League Cup yesterday with an eighth triumph in the competition.
As has become the norm for cup finals involving the Reds, it wasn’t as straightforward as it might have been and required the lottery of penalties to decide the eventual outcome.
That in itself was the fourth time since the turn of the century that Liverpool have won a trophy on penalties, and the second shoot-out win in the final of League Cup following the win over Birmingham – also from a division at the time – in 2001.
The law of averages suggest that Liverpool are overdue a loss in a shoot-out, and they could be said to have pushed their luck to its limit at Wembley yesterday after missing with their first two kicks.
That Liverpool managed to net their next three to claim the trophy was quite a feat given their recent record from 12 yards with Luis Suarez, twice, Andy Carroll, Dirk Kuyt and Charlie Adam having all failed from spot kicks already this season.
How his team secured the win will be of secondary importance to manager Kenny Dalglish, who collected the one domestic trophy missing from his managerial collection.
It was a fully deserved reward for an approach to the competition that has seen Liverpool go all out in search for silverware, facing challenging ties at Stoke and Chelsea during the way, as well as having to overcome the might of Manchester City in a tense semi final.
The current side may be further off the pace of the country’s leading clubs than Gerard Houllier’s team of 2001 were when they lifted the League Cup to earn Liverpool a first piece of silverware for six years.
But there’s nothing stopping Dalglish and his team from building on the win and achieving further success this season, from which the club can then look to build on in the summer.
On Sunday 26th February, Liverpool make their first trip to Wembley in almost 16 years.
In that time, 90 other English league or non-league clubs have played at the country’s national stadium including 60 different clubs since the newly constructed stadium was re-opened in 2007.
It is a mark of how long has passed since Liverpool graced the famous Wembley pitch that not only have Merseyside rivals Everton participated in a final at the stadium more recently, but also Tranmere Rovers and Southport!
Liverpool’s League Cup semi final win against Man City changes that, but prior to this season the Reds have rarely looked like reaching another Wembley final over the last five years.
Domestic cup form has been poor and resulted in Liverpool winning only three FA Cup ties in five years – against Luton Town following a replay, Havant & Waterlooville and Preston – as well as failing to reach the quarter-final stage of the League Cup during the last four years.
Barnsley and Northampton Town have left Anfield celebrating cup progress, while in the meantime, fans of sides such as Morecambe, Scunthorpe United, Stevenage Borough and Exeter City have tasted success at the stadium formerly dubbed “Anfield South”, as have Ebbsfleet United and Whitley Bay.
Not that reaching Wembley itself is a guarantee of success and a good day out, as Arsenal fans will testify. The Gunners have failed to win any of their three games at the revamped arena, and were stunned by Birmingham City in last year’s Carling Cup final.
As Arsenal were last year, Kenny Dalglish’s men will be strong favourites when they take on Cardiff, but the Reds’ manager will need no warning on what can happen in a one-off final having been in charge when Liverpool suffered one of the biggest FA Cup final shocks of all time in losing to Wimbledon in 1988.
There is also irony in that Liverpool’s opponents for the day are a Championship side from the very city in which Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez led Liverpool to a number of cup wins whilst England’s national stadium was being redeveloped.
Liverpool’s success during the six years in which Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium replaced Wembley as the venue for the nation’s showpiece finals was unrivalled. In seven appearances – bettered only by Arsenal’s eight – Liverpool won six, more than any other club. Their FA Cup triumphs of 2001 and 2006, both achieved in memorable fashion against Arsenal and West Ham United respectively, book-ended the Millennium Stadium era.
It’s been a long time in coming, but finally Liverpool have another opportunity to add to the many trophies that Wembley has seen the club win.
Ron Yeats was the first man to walk up the famous steps to lift a trophy for Liverpool following their first FA Cup in 1965. The steps may no longer be those climbed by Yeats, but Steven Gerrard will be hoping to emulate another of Anfield’s greats in four weeks time.
It may be advantage Liverpool after their first leg win last night, but the tie is far from over.
Liverpool though, showed yet again that they can compete with the best and, without making the same kind of mistakes that were evident when the sides met in the league a week ago, were rewarded for their performance.
Roberto Mancini bemoaned the lack of 3 or 4 players, but for Man City to refer to their absentees as any kind of reason for defeat simply highlights that Mancini perhaps isn’t as special a manager as some of his players would try to have us believe.
He has a tremendously talented squad at his disposal, and coping with the absence of key players is part of the game and the job of the manager is to find a solution with the players he has available in reserve.
There’s no doubt that missing Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Silva is going to weaken any team, but Liverpool were without key players of their own with Suarez suspended and Lucas, Liverpool’s player of the season last year, having been ruled out for the season since November.
In addition, Jay Spearing had to be withdrawn and Steve Gerrard is only recently back from long term injury.
Liverpool haven’t got the same strength in-depth as Man City, but have done what they have to do and simply got on with it.
Man City need to do the same if they’re have any desires of turning the tie around because no-one will have sympathy for a manager whose club have invested over half a billion pounds on players during the last few years.
Why so quiet?
Whilst on the topic of last night’s match, why were there so many empty seats and such a subdued atmosphere in the ground for much of the game, particularly the first half?
The riches invested in achieving Champions League football and competing for the title may have raised expectations, but surely not to the point which has led the fans to appear so disinterested in a semi final match in their own stadium against local rivals?
It may be true that some of the bigger clubs haven’t always prioritized the League Cup, but both Man United and Chelsea have treated it seriously enough to win the competition multiple times in the last few years, despite having bigger trophies still to fight for.
It’s simply the mark of a big club to go for whatever silverware is on offer, particularly in the latter stages of a competition.
With their FA Cup semi final of last season having taken place on a neutral venue, this was amongst the biggest games Man City have played at home for some time but their was a lack of the atmosphere that the club has once famous for.
Anfield itself is no longer what it once was, but there is always a full house for a big match and a fantastic atmosphere can be expected in two weeks’ time – even if it is ‘only’ the Carling Cup.