Respect for Carling Cup has reaped reward says Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish

 

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes a place in the Carling Cup final is just reward for treating the competition with respect.

The Reds boss, who has routinely named strong sides even against lower-league opposition throughout their run to Wembley, criticised other clubs for fielding weakened teams.

From the start the Scot targeted winning the Carling Cup as an achievable goal and they are within 90 minutes of completing that mission.

Dalglish believes other teams have missed an opportunity to win the first silverware of the season.

"I don't think it (the competition) has regained the credibility from years gone by," said Dalglish.

"I think we have treated it with respect but the teams that have treated it with respect are few and far between.

"We have treated it very seriously. We've used 20-odd players to get there so every member of the squad bar a couple has made a contribution.

"We are grateful to all of them, to the owners and supporters and everyone who has stood by us."

On Sunday Dalglish will lead Liverpool out in their first final since 2007, and their first appearance at Wembley since 1996 in the days of the old stadium, to face npower Championship side Cardiff.

Their last trophy came in 2006 in the FA Cup and in the intervening time the club have dropped out of Champions League contention - even failing to qualify for the Europa League last season - during a turbulent period for the club under the dysfunctional reign of American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Since that duo were replaced by compatriots Fenway Sports Group in October 2010 the club have started to turn things around and that process was accelerated by the return of Dalglish for a second spell in charge just over a year ago and a significant investment in players in 12 months.

And while Dalglish, no stranger to finals as a player at Anfield, will take great satisfaction in leading his team out he insists it is an occasion everyone connected with the club should revel in.

"It means a lot to myself but more importantly it means a lot to a lot of people who have had to endure a few years when we've not been there (to Wembley)," added Dalglish.

"It has been 16 years but there was a wee bit of reconstruction (referring to the building of the new stadium) going on at the time which has not been taken into consideration.

"For everyone who is connected with the club it is just reward for the loyalty and support they have shown.

"We have moved on from where we were last year, progressing in the FA Cup and the final of this cup and are four points behind fourth in place - this time last year we were nowhere near that.

"There is progress being made. For the players it is an indication of how well they have done so everyone is looking forward to it.

"We have a chance so we will do as well as we possibly can and we will try to progress the club and move forward."

PA

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