Liverpool must produce team effort to win FA Cup says Steven Gerrard

 

Finals tend to bring out the best in Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard but he insists if they are to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup at Wembley tomorrow it will have to be a team effort.

The Reds' last appearance in the FA Cup showpiece was at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, now widely regarded as 'the Gerrard final'.

Having already supplied the pass for one goal and scored the other to level the scores at 2-2 the England midfielder, stricken with cramp, summoned one final burst of energy with his side 3-2 down in added time to smash home a brilliant 30-yard equaliser.

He even scored a penalty in the shoot-out as the Reds lifted the cup for the seventh time.

Having inspired his side in the Champions League final a year earlier, Gerrard's worth to the team was incalculable and that remains the same today. However, the 31-year-old rejects the suggestion his team-mates have an over-reliance on him.

"I don't think so. We beat Everton in a massive game at Wembley (the semi-final) not so long ago and I didn't get the goals," he said.

"So we've certainly got players in and around the squad who can be match-winners. Not all the pressure's on me. It's up to everyone to deliver trophies for this club.

"Maybe the knockout nature of the cups has brought the best out of us this season.

"But what it also shows is that when we are down, under the cosh and under pressure, this team is never beaten."

Gerrard cannot hide his disappointment that the club's cup form this season has not been replicated in the league.

Despite winning their first trophy since that 2006 FA Cup final, beating Cardiff in the Carling Cup in February, results have been on the slide.

By Sunday Liverpool could have dropped to ninth, although they will have a match in hand, but the Reds captain stressed an FA Cup win would give them the confidence to launch a top-four challenge next season.

"Let's be realistic. At the start of the season our chances of winning the Premier League were quite slim," Gerrard admitted.

"We had Manchester City's power to contend with and Chelsea's power, Manchester United are always there, so we were probably fourth or fifth favourites at the time.

"But we had much better chances of going out and winning the Carling Cup and getting to the FA Cup final and that's what we've done.

"What it shows is that if we do win the FA Cup this squad still needs slight tweaking in the summer if we are to compete in the Premier League."

Earlier in the week manager Kenny Dalglish suggested such a concentrated focus on the league had taken some of the gloss off winning cups.

So, Gerrard was asked, is too much importance placed on the Premier League?

"I don't think the owners would think so," he said.

"They are piling fortunes into the club so it's only natural that there's pressure and responsibility on us players.

"We've got to be big enough to handle that pressure. We've got to be men.

"We're playing for Liverpool Football Club, one of the biggest clubs in Europe, so we have to handle that pressure.

"There's no point looking for excuses and complaining about that.

"We've underdelivered and underperformed in the league, simple, but we've been fantastic in the cups.

"The league at times this year has been confusing and frustrating because we know the squad and the players we have we are a lot better.

"We are hoping when we assess the season in a couple of weeks it will be with two trophies in the cabinet.

"That has got to breed confidence and belief into this squad and we have got to take that into next season."

PA

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