Carragher is now happy to fuel Everton's crying shame

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Defender was a Blue as a kid and remembers Liverpool victories turning him to tears. The boot is safely on the other foot these days

Jamie Carragher has experienced the depth of Merseyside misery that comes from watching the other colour win at Wembley. "Hopefully," he said, "I won't come back crying this time."

Carragher's tears though came in the wake of Liverpool victories, as the boyhood Blue watched the bitter city rivals win two FA Cup finals, and celebrate side by side with their dejected counterparts all the way home. And just to complicate a divided picture, the goals to win the 1986 and 1989 finals were scored by Ian Rush, another who had grown up supporting Everton.

"It is just such a build-up to a derby," said Carragher this week. "Where I am from there is a big Everton background, you get plenty of gyp in the week with people saying things and you get wound up for the game. Everyone knows I was an Evertonian as a kid and I went to those finals.

"Obviously the result matters – it's massive for both teams – but in terms of going down there I know what it's like for everyone, organising where they're going to stay, who they're going down with, the whole build-up. It's great for the city that we can have a game like this. Hopefully we can make it like it was in the 80s when we had the Merseyside finals. It hasn't been like that for a while for Everton and Liverpool. This is a chance to show the rest of the country what we're about.

"For a club with the support Everton have got, a great fanbase, their history and tradition, it's probably been too long for them. So there's pressure on them, I know that from talking to their supporters. I've got enough of them in the family and they're well aware of how important the game is for them in terms of trying to get silverware back to the club."

The result of those two Cup finals – both in Dalglish's first managerial tenure – would suit Carragher, now that he is long since established in the red corner. Then it might have helped move him to tears but now the vision of Dalglish greeting a goal is one Carragher savours, and forms a starting point in a vigorous defence of his manager. Dalglish has been the subject of rare criticism as Liverpool's league form has foundered, at least until Andy Carroll's timely intervention at Blackburn on Monday night.

Carragher said: "[Dalglish] was delighted at the end. I don't think there is a better sight in football than KD celebrating a Liverpool goal: his smile, his reactions, we all like to see that. The form hasn't been great and we have all had criticism, but the manager gets it more than most. That's the price on the ticket and we all accept that to a certain extent, but some of the criticism towards the manager in recent weeks has been a little bit disrespectful.

"He is the most iconic figure in British football. You have great players and great managers – and he is in both camps. Stein, Busby, Ferguson, Paisley, Shankly, Clough, Dalglish, all these great managers, and he is in there. And he is in with the great players as well. None of those people you mention are in both camps.

"If Liverpool aren't doing well and you are manager of LFC then you are going to get criticism. That's part of the game, but considering what he has achieved and the fact that for me he is the biggest figure in British football for what he has achieved as a player and a manager some of it has crossed the line.

"It goes a bit far considering what he has done since he came back to the club. It is not about judging the last six games. We have to remember where we were when he came in. We hadn't won a trophy for six years, we have won a trophy, we are in a semi-final."

One of Dalglish's pivotal decisions before he hands over his team sheet in the Wembley tunnel this morning is whether Carragher's name features among the starting XI. Before Daniel Agger fractured his rib in the Carling Cup final, the Dane's central-defensive partnership with Martin Skrtel was the most dependable part of Dalglish's side. Agger has come off the bench in the last two games but what may win Carragher, who was rested at Blackburn, a start is his long knowledge of the fixture. He and Steven Gerrard have derby history.

"I remember before me and Stevie got in the team, we couldn't beat Everton and we didn't just get beat by Everton we got bullied by them," said Carragher. "That is one thing that has changed over the last 15 years since we got in the team. Hopefully that will continue to be the case after the weekend." Even if it does mean sending another generation of Blues home in tears.

Cup runneth over: Memorable mersey tussles

22 FA Cup meetings: 9 Liverpool wins, 7 Everton wins, 6 draws

10 May 1986, Everton 1-3 Liverpool (Final)

Dalglish started the game as Liverpool's player-manager, but it was the Toffees who drew first blood through Gary Lineker. However, a second-half brace from Ian Rush, and a goal from Craig Johnston handed the Reds a comprehensive victory.

21 February 1988, Everton 0-1 Liverpool (Fifth round proper)

Ray Houghton scored the only goal of the game for Liverpool as Kenny Dalglish's side reached the final this year, but were beaten 1-0 by Wimbledon in the final.

20 May 1989, Liverpool 3-2 Everton (Final)

Everton's Stuart McCall cancelled out John Aldridge's opener with moments to play, taking the game into extra time. McCall's second of the game was not enough to prevent Liverpool claiming their fourth FA Cup after two late Ian Rush goals.

20 February 1991, Everton 4-4 Liverpool (Fifth-round replay)

Kenny Dalglish resigned just two days after this thrilling draw. The tie was 3-3 after 90 minutes, and Tony Cottee and Liverpool winger John Barnes both scored in extra time to force a second replay which Everton won 1-0.

4 February 2009, Everton 1-0 Liverpool (Fourth-round replay)

Dan Gosling's 118th-minute winner will be remembered for ever, but largely because millions missed it when ITV abruptly cut to a Tic Tac advert. David Moyes' team were beaten by Chelsea in the final.

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