Liverpool FC: Why Cup Success Will Be Enough for Reds This Season
In a week that has seen Liverpool reach the final of the League Cup and advance to the last 16 of the FA Cup, at the expense of rivals Manchester United, the Anfield side are on course to lift their first silverware since 2006.
After the last few tumultuous seasons, in which the ownership of the club has changed hands, faced possible bankruptcy, seen Manchester United surpass their 18 league titles and had to endure the short lived Roy Hodgson era, a Liverpool cup final victory would signal a return towards former glories.
A win against Cardiff at Wembley in the League Cup Final will give Kenny Dalglish a trophy in his first full season back in charge and provide vindication for his expensive transfer purchases.
Most of all, a cup final win will give their fans something to cheer and show the world that Liverpool FC are back.
Liverpool last won the League Cup in 2003 when they beat a Manchester United team which featured such stars as David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Liverpool were managed that day by Gerard Houllier and ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.
Back in the '80s Liverpool won the League Cup four years in a row, with their 1984 win coming after a replay against Everton. Kenny Dalglish played for Liverpool that day and the only goal of the game was scored by the captain Graeme Souness, another player who went on to manage the Reds.
In all, Liverpool have won the League Cup a record seven times and will start as favorites at Wembley on 26 February to win an eighth. Championship side Cardiff should not be taken lightly though and after Birmingham's surprise 2 -1 victory against Arsenal last season, Liverpool can take nothing for granted.
Dalglish's side can also ill affored to put in a half-hearted display like their dire performance against Bolton last weekend if they want to win the first major silverware of the season.
The 2-1 FA Cup victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's side not only gave Liverpool revenge for last season's 0-1 FA Cup defeat but gives the Merseyside team a real chance of advancing to the final for the first time in six years.
There are a number of good sides still left in the competition and a lot depends on the luck of the draw, which is what makes the oldest soccer cup so exciting, but Liverpool will get a real boost from Saturday's result.
The lift it will give the fans and players will have them all believing that this could be the year they get back to hoisting the cup come May. While a cup double may be pushing it a bit, it is not beyond the realm of fantasy and would surely announce to the rest of the Premiership that Liverpool are back on their way to becoming a top world class outfit again.
An FA Cup final appearance would also hopefully bring a return to some John Barnes magic.
This season has not been an easy return to management for Dalglish. With his transfer policy coming under scrutiny, his captain injured, his leading goalscorer banned and some sketchy performances at home.
Things have been more than a little tricky for one of Liverpool's all time greats but King Kenny seems to have lost none of his passion for the game even when under immense pressure. Lifting some silverware would ease most of the outside pressure being placed on Dalglish and allow him to assert that his tactics and signings have been 100 percent correct.
The appointment of Steve Clarke as assistant manager at the start of his return to the dugout was an astute move and the way Liverpool have been able to compete against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and the Manchester clubs on the field this season has proved that both men are shaping the club in the right direction.
While some fans want immediate glory, Dalglish and Clarke and building for long term success, winning a cup will allow them more time to delevop their plans and allow young players like Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Martin Kelly to establish themselves.
Liverpool FC has always been known for its enthusitic and loyal supporters. The Kop end in full voice used to make Anfield a fortress for the Reds and Liverpool's home form during the '70s and '80s was second to none.
As well as singing a well known Gerry and the Pacemakers song, supporters groups such as the Spirit of Shankly were vocal in their call for a change in ownership and played a large play in galvinizing the movement against previous owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
With the Fenway Sports Group now in control and money being made available for new players, Liverpool and its fans only need silverware to return their collective voices back to full volume. The supporters at Anfield have been in full cry during the last two cup games, the semifinal against Man City and the FA Cup game against Man Utd.
Another cup win would have the fans singing Dalglish's name a bit louder and support their manager as he seeks to steer the Premiership title back to Merseyside for the first time since 1990.
While the Premiership title and the Champions League will always be the goal of a team like Liverpool, cup success this year will be more than enough. A return to winning ways and adding to their record haul of silverware will continue to head the club in the right direction.
As Dalglish slowly returns the practices and principles of what Liverpool FC represents and as has always stood for, and while players like captain Steven Gerrard and reformed bad boy Craig Bellamy continue to inspire, the future looks bright.
With a good youth setup and a policy of making young signings, though some this season have struggled, Liverpool FC should continue to elevate up themselves up the Premiership. A Champions League spot maybe out of their grasp this season but a return to being a regular fixture in the top three and competing for the title doesn't seem too far way.
A cup final win or two could be the spark to push the Reds back to the top.
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