LONDON – The celebrations among the players, management and fans underlined the joy of reaching the League Cup final even though it is the lowest-rated piece of domestic silverware.
No, not Cardiff City of the Championship but Liverpool. In the not too distant past the League Cup was a consolation prize to a club which was the champion of Europe seven years ago. On Wednesday, Kenny Dalglish led the lap of honor as Liverpool booked its first Wembley date since 2006.
Liverpool’s elation after beating Manchester City 3-2 on aggregate served to highlight its decline and underachievement since winning the Champions League.
When Dalglish took over last season Liverpool was five points off the bottom of the Premier League and had just been knocked out of the League Cup by Northampton of League Two.
Despite spending £100 million on new faces, Liverpool is a long way from mounting a serious challenge for the title, but winning the League Cup would at least show progress and buy Dalglish some time.
Andy Carroll, or £35 million misfit Andy Carroll to give him his full media name, plus Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson saw Dalglish’s investment questioned, but Craig Bellamy, who came gift-wrapped from City during the summer on a free transfer, scored the goal that made his former club fall at the final hurdle. Liverpool’s best signing this season cost nothing.
Dalglish treats his team selections like state secrets, but Bellamy is a shoe-in to play against his hometown club where he spent a season on loan last season in the final.
Liverpool hosts Manchester United in the F.A. Cup fourth round on Saturday and with the pressure off them after sealing a Wembley final, there is a quiet confidence around Anfield that it can complete a memorable Manchester double.
IF YOU BELIEVED someone had insulted you, how would you feel about shaking their hand?
And how would you feel if someone told you to greet that person in the traditional way?
Angry, no doubt.
There is pressure on Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea captain John Terry to shake hands as is customary for all players before Saturday’s F.A. Cup tie at Loftus Road.
The problem is that the game comes four days before Terry is due to face trial for alleged racist remarks made to Ferdinand when the teams met earlier in the season.
Wayne Bridge of Manchester City refused to shake Terry’s hand before a match in the wake of stories linking the England captain to the fullback’s ex-partner. There is no way the Football Association or QPR should ask Ferdinand to do anything he does not want to do. Ferdinand’s decision should be his decision and his alone.
Terry is unlikely to appear in court next Wednesday, his lawyers entering a plea of not guilty on his behalf, the case therefore being adjourned for up to six weeks.
Whenever Terry appears before a magistrate, there is the possibility that if Ferdinand shakes his hand it could be used by the accused’s legal team to his advantage
NOTE THE TIME and date: 17:54, January 22nd, 2012. It could be a defining moment in Arsene Wenger’s career as Arsenal manager.
Paying customers have every right to show their feelings but I never thought I would hear “you don’t know what you’re doing” echoing around Emirates Stadium.
There has been a growing disillusionment with Wenger among Arsenal fans and last Sunday’s vocal dissent was probably more a buildup of six years of frustration without winning a trophy, than what was called a game-losing substitution.
Qualifying for the Champions League this season is in doubt, and while Wenger is Arsenal’s most successful manager, his credit is running out.
Wenger’s alleged inability to know what he was doing was based on the substitution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain by Andrey Arshavin. Many Arsenal supporters also didn’t think the Frenchman knew what he was doing when Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal for £12 million, but the winger has star potential, and apparently in hindsight Wenger did know what he was doing after all.
Arshavin is only marginally more popular than Tottenham among the Emirates faithful, the Russian’s popularity dipping even further when he failed to track Antonio Valencia as he laid on Manchester United’s winning goal scored by Danny Welbeck.
This pre-supposes Oxlade-Chamberlain would have chased Valencia. Fine winger the teenager is, but he had made only one tackle during his time on the pitch.
Wenger will have to be replaced at some stage but that is unlikely to be until next year, when his contract runs out. And maybe Arsenal fans should be careful what they wish for.
CHOOSE YOUR friends wisely but choose your enemies even more carefully. Who you choose as your enemies defines you.
Carlos Tevez failed to take heed of these wise words and it has cost the Manchester City striker (past rather than present) £9.3 million in loss of earnings to date.
There were always going to be repercussions when Tevez refused to warm up during the City-Bayern Munch Champions League tie in the Allianz Arena in September.
It has proved to be the most expensive act of petulance in football history, costing the Argentine £3.3 million in fines and loss of wages (£198,000 a week) to date. This is on top of the loss of a £6 million loyalty bonus (stop shaking your head in disbelief) forfeited when he asked for a transfer in December 2010.
Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.