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Cup can't overshadow Dalglish's faults
There’s winning with style, there’s winning ugly and then there’s winning by drawing. Liverpool supporters will not care one jot about the numbers, though, because on the Carling Cup trophy, it’s their club's name that has been engraved as champions.
However, the problem with lifting trophies in Sunday’s manner is that it hides a multitude of sins.
Let’s be honest here. Cardiff City are nothing more than a workmanlike team. They’re technically deficient in almost every department compared to the Reds, and tactically, they’ve got nothing in their locker to scare you. And yet, they took Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish to the brink of humiliation.
And but for the thickness of a post (Kenny Miller) and a completely missed spot kick by a lesser known member of the Gerrard family, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard would have been climbing the steps to the Royal Box to collect a runners-up medal.
Ninety minutes, extra-time, missed penalties and a whole slice of luck were needed to beat a Championship team.
And to think before this match, all pundits with a streak of red running through their veins were saying that a win in this competition would signal to the rest of the watching world that Liverpool FC is back. They really believe that this could be the springboard for greater success, but I’m not buying that for a second.
After Sunday, I wonder what their thoughts are now, because by my reckoning, the XI that Dalglish selected to start this match are not good enough to be compared with any Liverpool XI since 1960.
Included in that XI were the ‘Dalglish six': Andy Carroll, Luis Suárez, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and José Enrique, a comination which cost just over $158 million, according to Dalglish's valuation.
I’ve got to wonder if the presence of Liverpool owner John W. Henry on a weekend jolly-up had anything to do with this team selection, because other than Suárez and glimpses from Adam, the buys have been an epic waste of money - surely not deserving of a start given their current form.
Being that Henry probably wouldn’t know a striker from a sweeper, King Kenny must be glad that his owner was fully equipped with his red-tinted sunglasses. Judging from his post-match comments, Henry was more impressed with the noise of the crowd than anything he saw on the pitch. He certainly would have only had eyes for Steven Gerrard, as the Liverpool skipper finally lifted a major trophy for the first time at the new Wembley Stadium.
When Henry gets around to talking to his coach about the match, he will probably ask him about the blond match-winner Dalglish left on the bench for most of the game, perhaps asking the question: Why?
For some reason, Dirk Kuyt barely gets a sniff under the Scotsman despite scoring the two biggest goals since his triumphant return to Anfield. In fact, the Dutchman has not completed a full 90 minutes for the first team since December 10 versus QPR. You can’t tell me this is smart man management, and it surely can’t be an attempt to make his most versatile player game hungry.
I believe that Kuyt isn’t seeing playing time because he doesn’t fit in with the Kenny Dalglish style of management, which follows the mantra of ’if Kenny didn’t buy you, Kenny doesn’t trust you’.
With Kuyt a holdover of the Rafa Benitez regime, it feels as though he has been frozen out, and for the wrong reasons. Usually players who are match winners in the biggest of games are rewarded with that most valuable commodity - playing time. So far, Kuyt has been given nothing recently but pine time.
If Kenny Dalglish really is the second coming at Anfield, he’s going to have to learn that it isn’t all about Steven Gerrard and his ‘Dalglish Six'. Football has changed since the King was last on Merseyside.
The Carling Cup may in the future prove to be a renaissance, but let's see how far they have come when they meet a proper team - next week in the form of Arsenal. Will a draw be a win then?
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