The Week Column - Liverpool's tide could turn with cup victory

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Kenny Dalglish manager of Liverpool and Jamie Carragher celebrate with the trophy after the Carling Cup Final match between Liverpool and Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2012 in London, England. Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

As Dirk Kuyt quite tentatively put it after Sunday's Carling Cup victory over a spirited Cardiff City side; "we have found a way forward."

It has been six trophyless years for Liverpool and those six years have been tough. They've been fraught with controversy and defined by the mistakes made at both boardroom and boot room level. They've been unwillingly inconsistent and the money seeping from the club's every asset - including the likes of the stalling Andy Carroll and the costly Jordan Henderson - is being strenuously plugged by an American pair with at least a passing interest in the success of the club.

John W Henry and Tom Werner have been, by Liverpool's standards at least, quiet and yet convincing owners with their latest claim being that this piece of silverware is only the beginning. And, by all accounts, it's not a bad start.

The win over Cardiff may not have been overly fascinating in its execution, but for the Reds, the satisfaction wasn't in the 120 minutes that precluded their triumph, rather, it was in the holding of the trophy. The roar of the crowd and the winners' medals that hang around their necks. Cardiff were both resistive and potent in equal measure, and on the most part, had the balance of their opponents. They were dogged in their display and are deserving of more than mere runners up medals. Of course, the Welsh outfit will win gratitudes and many plaudits, but it will be undoubtedly shrugged off in a blur of self pity.

For what it's worth, however, Malky MacKay and his team truly provided a game of wonderment for the neutrals and they should at least be proud of that. You can't help but feel, though, that the trophy will have more resonance in Anfield than it would do in the Welsh capital because Liverpool, for all their spending and for all their far-reaching history, have been a team out of sorts recently and Kenny Dalglish hasn't, up until now, come close to rectifying some of the problems that rumble under the surface on Merseyside.

In fact, the Scotsman's record barely matches up to Roy Hodsgon's, and yet Dalglish has - and he will continue to in the future - been given the time and resources to work with the club. This is down to, in no small part, the fans' sheer devotion to a man who has done so much for Liverpool Football Club. His past comes before him and his failures take to the background, but, you have to pay homage for the spirit he has inserted into what was a previously fragile camp.

Their run-in to the Carling Cup final was a particularly classy affair, with both Chelsea and Manchester City hardly fulfilling the role of the comically simple passage. They had to battle and Dalglish had to manage. Chelsea were surpassed with an unnerving ease - unnerving more, perhaps, for Villas-Boas and his side than anyone else - while City did muster some sort of reputable force but in no way to the same measurable extent of their opponents. In this respect, reaching the last stage, under the limelight of Wembley - somewhere Steven Gerrard had never previously played in red - was a feat worthy of accreditation in itself.

And yet, they almost came unstuck at the most crucial of moments. Cardiff almost, with their confidence abound and their tales frantically wagging, found a way past this Liverpool set up that was both solid and entertaining. It wasn't to be, and for all the sympathy that the Welshmen will receive, perhaps it's a little harsh to overlook their opponents

That they persistently applied the pressure on Cardiff with dutiful pedigree has gone almost unnoticed and the ramifications of this victory could well be vast. The League Cup is no fourth place - although it provides a decent substitution - and that is where the money, success and most importantly, expectations, really lie. As Jamie Carragher stated, the Europa League places aren't what a club of this stature should be achieving, never mind targeting.

This win could well prove to be be the springboard that is so palpably needed for Liverpool to authentically push on in the league. It may be a trophy short on favourableness and genuine competition but it's a trophy nonetheless and Dalglish has done well to guide Liverpool to it. There is no impetus quite like that you derive from victory.

Perhaps now, the Luis Suarez saga can finally be brushed under the carpet and a new era can be whistled in for Liverpool because, as everybody is more than aware, one is a necessity. We all made the assumption that Dalglish's installation was that new era but the evidence suggests nothing has really changed. The signings of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez may well have been signals of Liverpool's intention but the rewards have been minimal.

Maybe this win will allow the tide to turn a little, however. Maybe Dalglish really is the man that was made to manage Liverpool and maybe they really can find a path back to their halcyon days of old. The Carling Cup is certainly a good way to get started.

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