Kenny Dalglish leads Liverpool into a cup final for the first time since 2006
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Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has insisted that his squad deserve the chance to claim a trophy in the Carling Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
The Reds take on Cardiff in the first final of the season on Sunday and will bid to end the club’s six-year wait for a trophy. After over £75 million of investment into the playing squad since his arrival, Dalglish thinks his players should be praised for gelling as a unit.
“I think it’s important that they get the accolades they deserve,” he said. “When I came to the club as a player, I may have been the only one who came in that year. I was walking straight into a really successful club, who had won the league, been to the Cup final and won the European Cup.
“Everything was set, everything was there. It was still a work in progress but where they were coming from was a really high standard. We weren’t at that standard when I came back as a manager. We have to try and get there.
“So for the lads to have made the contribution they have is great. Not just the nine who have come in but the lads who have been here for a while. The likes of Stevie [Gerrard], Carra, Pepe [Reina] and Daniel Agger. All of them have made a contribution.
“The fact they have come in and all got on so well with each other is reflected in the results that they’ve had. Aside from two or three blips they have done particularly well in their first season together.”
Liverpool are favourites to beat their Championship opponents, but Dalglish insists whatever happens on the day will not define Liverpool’s season as they are also in the FA Cup quarter-finals and are keen to cement a top-four finish in the Premier League.
“We have given ourselves a chance by getting there and let’s see how we get on,” Dalglish added. “We’re not going to jump ahead of ourselves or take anything for granted. It’s going to be a really difficult game for us. It’s just as huge a match for Cardiff as it is for us.
“If we want to have any designs on winning the match we need to play to our full capacity. We have still got a huge opportunity in front of us to make the season relatively successful. We’ve got the Carling Cup final, the sixth round of the FA Cup at home to Stoke and some really important league matches coming up.
“It could be a decent season for everybody. Irrespective of what happens in one game, we cannot carry it on into the next game. We had a great result against Brighton but we cannot carry that on into Sunday. We have to start from scratch and prepare the best we can for Cardiff. Let’s go one at a time and see where it takes us.”
Meanwhile, Cardiff manager Malky Mackay knows his side are underdogs but says they can repeat Birmingham’s shock victory over Arsenal 12 months ago.
“My players are looking forward to getting out there and testing themselves,” Mackay said. “We are obviously massive underdogs if you look at the two clubs. Nine times out of 10 the underdogs are beaten, but there is that one other time.
“Any team going to Wembley is playing against 11 guys and anything can happen. Last year it was Birmingham, who went on to be relegated at the end of the season. They faced Arsenal and no-one was giving them a prayer either.”