Kenny Dalglish fixture complaint shows Carling Cup is important - Mersey Beat

11 November 2011 01:53
Isn't this the unimportant competition? The Carling Cup is usually regarded as a bane by managers, so that fact Kenny Dalglish erupted this week has told a highly significant story.

Liverpool's manager has been seething for the past seven days about how the foibles of fixture list means his side must play their Carling Cup quarter-final at Chelsea 48 hours after they host Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League.

At first glance some would view this to be sour grapes and, perhaps, getting excuses in early. Liverpool, after all, will not be favourites at Stamford Bridge.

Having a go: Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has hit out over the fixture scheduling

Furthermore, sympathy is in short supply from most neutrals. Liverpool, after all, have a bigger and improved squad from last year. So what if they have to play twice in two days?

  Clearly it is not an ideal state of affairs. The Football League would have wanted this tie to be played on a Wednesday but Tottenham's Europa League clash against PAOK Salonika, coupled with a TUC march in the capital the same, means the Met Police will not allow the game to be switched.

Liverpool and Manchester City - who are in a similar position - would have been happy to bring their league game forward by 24 hours but, again, that was not possible, with television scheduling among the number of reasons why the Premier League could not grant the request.

Irked by what he has perceived to be a damaging inflexibility, Dalglish delivered a broadside on Thursday, claiming that it is 'disgraceful' that players are being asked to play two important games so quickly and threatening to field a team of young players.

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He won't do that, though. The reason why is the same reason is so angry - the Carling Cup represents Liverpool's best opportunity to win a trophy this season and Dalglish is desperate to crown his second coming as manager with a piece of silverware.

Perhaps he will use the planning to Liverpool's advantage, creating a siege mentality within in his squad. If Dalglish feels outside forces are making things difficult for his players, he will use the sense of injustice as a motivating factor.

There is no way, however, that he will oversee a surrender at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool have come through potentially trick examinations at Exeter, Brighton and Stoke and are starting to believe a 15-year hiatus from Wembley can be ended.

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The League Cup has been derided in the modern era but it remains a competition that is revered at Anfield. Dalglish won it four times as a player - he scored in the first victory against West Ham in 1981 - and later took Liverpool to the final as manager, in 1987 against Arsenal.

Liverpool's haul of seven League Cup wins remains a record and this squad is aching to make that number eight. Take Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. They have never been to Wembley with Liverpool and are desperate to banish that statistic.

Eyes on the prize: Dalglish won the League Cup four times as a player for Liverpool

Dirk Kuyt has been on Merseyside for more than five years but has no medals to show for his service, while Pepe Reina has failed to add to the Community Shield and FA Cup gongs he collected in 2006. Try telling them that the Carling Cup doesn't matter.

'Here you have two clubs who have treated this competition with the utmost respect over the years and they are being treated like this,' said Dalglish.

'It is for Manchester City to argue their case but it is my job to stand up for the interests of Liverpool Football Club.'

Yes, he is furious. But do not disguise this as waving the white flag. The reason Dalglish is boiling is because he wants to win this tournament. That's how much the Carling Cup has changed. 

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Source: Daily_Mail