Looking on at Liverpool's laboured progression to the FA Cup final via Saturday's 2-1 win over Everton – in which for the most part they were 11 players failing to resemble a team – can hardly have given manager Kenny Dalglish much pleasure, but he surely drew massive relief from the result.
"To go forward and be successful, sometimes you need to get battered along the way," he said. "It is important for everybody to go through some bad bits to realise how good the good bits are. I have been there before and I suppose I will be there again."
Tim Cahill's post-match barb that Liverpool "just seem to have luck on their side when they play Everton" was debatable, but judging Dalglish's team on performances alone is to overlook that quality which no one can deny the Scot gives them: the mental sharpness to get the result on the big occasions.
Once Jamie Carragher had recovered from the calamity of gifting Nikica Jelavic Everton's opener, he observed how there was "something in our DNA" which enables Liverpool to win through in the end.
"I don't know how we do it, but Liverpool have always done it in the past," said Carragher. "There is something from within which not all clubs have got. Manchester United have got it too: finding a way to win at big moments. I can't put my finger on what it is, but I'm delighted we've got it."
Whether, or when, that will bring a top-four finish and Champions League, though, is what the owners Fenway Sports Group must want to know. It seemed a miscalculation that both John W Henry and Tom Werner should have missed this to be back in Boston. Carragher said the side are not matching their cup success in the Premier League because "with one-off games" it's different. "I don't think we won because of our great ability or great players – it's a character thing," he said. Can dollars buy character?Reuse content