Kenny Dalglish set out to unify Liverpool FC when he took over as manager on Jan. 8, 2011. A little over a year later, he credited unity for helping LFC reach the Carling Cup final. He also said the achievement was a “thank you” from the team to its supporters, according to LiverpoolFC.tv.
“I’ve said many times before, if we all stick together, we’ll be a stronger force — and this is a huge reward for everybody that’s got any affiliation to Liverpool Football Club in any way, shape or form,” Dalglish said after the game. “For everybody at the football club, this is the players’ way of saying thanks very much.”
The Reds played England’s top team, Manchester City, to a thrilling 2-2 draw at Anfield on Wednesday. That result, combined with a 1-0 victory over City on Jan. 14, was enough to ensure passage to the Carling Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium on Feb. 26.
LFC fell behind when Nigel de Jong scored an improbable goal in the 31st minute. But captain Steve Gerrard tied the score with a spot-kick nine minutes later. Edin Dzeko put the visitors ahead in the 67th minute, but Craig Bellamy capped another fight-back with a goal seven minutes later.
From that point, City was never likely to muster a response and send the semifinal to extra-time. The Premier League’s best team backed down in the face of an opponent with an unyielding will to succeed. The Reds’ display of character Wednesday made for an unforgettable night at a venue that has seen so many before.
LFC heads to its first major final since 2007, and the road it took to reach that point makes the feat even more impressive. Five straight road wins against progressively more difficult opponents — Exeter, Brighton, Stoke City, Chelsea and Manchester City — preceded Wednesday’s draw.
Dalglish also pointed out that nearly every member of LFC’s first team played in one or more Carling Cup games.
“I think there is only Fabio (Aurelio) and Doni in the squad who hasn’t played in this competition, so every single member of the squad apart from the two lads has made a contribution and I think that is a great reflection of the players we have at the club,” Dalglish said. “A lot of them who got us in this position maybe didn’t play tonight, but their efforts and commitment won’t be dismissed easily.”
Liverpool FC has endured some hard times, but the unity Dalglish emphasizes will be central to the club’s ongoing restoration to its proper standing in English and European soccer.
“It’s great for the people who have stood by us because it’s not been too easy a time for Liverpool Football Club over the last couple of years or so, and it is fantastic for the new owners,” Dalglish said.
Review all the action from Wednesday’s game in our Liverpool Live Blog.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.tv