Cups marginalised by 'obsession' with Premier League says Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish

 

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes an "obsession" with the Barclays Premier League appears to be reducing the value of winning cup competitions.

The Reds head into Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea looking for their second piece of silverware this season having already lifted the Carling Cup.

However, Liverpool's league form has been wildly inconsistent in the current campaign and a fourth home defeat to Fulham last night means they have now dropped 30 points at Anfield.

Their eighth-place position is well below the standard required by principal owner John Henry, who arrived on Merseyside today ahead of Saturday's trip to Wembley, who at the start of the season felt Dalglish's side should have been challenging for a top-four place.

But while the Reds boss accepts their league form has not been good enough he does not believe it should devalue their progress in knockout competitions, having ended a six-year wait for silverware.

"Any competition you enter you want to do the best you possibly can in," said the Scot.

"In the league it is 38 games and at the end you finish in a position which tells you how successful it has been.

"In cup competitions there are obviously not as many games and if you get beaten you are out.

"There is an obsession with the Premier League simply because of what it holds for every club and the value financially for every club, the rewards you get for finishing in the top four and getting in the Champions League.

"But there is a satisfaction from winning a cup competition which you don't get from finishing fifth or sixth in the league.

"We have already tasted a cup final this year, albeit the Carling Cup, and getting to the FA Cup final should never be under-estimated in any way.

"It is a fantastic day out for everyone and is great reward for the efforts and commitment of the players and the respect we have paid to the competition.

"We think we deserve to be there and we are happy to be there.

"We will see what happens. We are in the cup final and there is no guarantee we will win but there is a guarantee we will give everything we have got to try to win.

"The season will be assessed when it's finished."

Captain Steven Gerrard has spoken a number of times in the past of having to address their league form and he and veteran defender Jamie Carragher both reiterated that stance.

However, both insisted winning two trophies in a season - the only two competitions they realistically had a chance of success in as they were well off the Premier League pace even before the campaign kicked off - should be regarded as an achievement.

"It is a successful season. This club is all about winning big trophies and the FA Cup certainly comes under that," said Gerrard.

"We will assess the season after the weekend. If we can look back and say we have won two cups we will be happy.

"But of course we still have to address the problem of our league position."

Gerrard added: "Some of the biggest experiences myself and Jamie have had over the years have been winning cups.

"They are nights when you are successful you look back on with fond memories.

"The FA Cup is special altogether but we got a taste of success winning the Carling Cup and that will help some of the younger players in the squad and everyone really because winning breeds confidence."

Carragher insisted putting silverware back in the cabinet at Anfield was important for the club's standing and for the players' confidence.

"We had gone five or six years before this season without a trophy and in that time we have had some great nights - European Champions League nights - but at the end of your career you want trophies to look back on as well," said the 34-year-old.

"We have one this season and if we get two, having been in three competitions, that will be a great season."

While not decrying the Carling Cup, Carragher admitted the FA Cup was another step up in prestige.

"Playing for Liverpool in a cup final is special but we realise playing in an FA Cup final is a bigger stage than the Carling Cup final," he added.

"It is fantastic for the club, supporters, manager and players. It is something to look forward to."

PA

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