Another step forward for King Kenny’s Liverpool in Wembley showpiece, but there’s still a long way to go
It’s been billed as the trophy that can kick-start Liverpool’s emergence as a top club again, but the way Liverpool struggled to break down Cardiff when the pressure was really on them showed Kenny Dalglish and his team have a long way to go until they can be a genuine threat to the likes of Manchester United and City.
The last major final Liverpool competed in was the 2007 UEFA Champions League, where they lost to AC Milan. Since then, Liverpool have continued to fall from their perch. They have been overtaken by United in the league title count, fallen out of the Champions League under Hicks and Gillett, and last season fallen out of Europe all together.
The return of King Kenny has proved a renaissance period for Liverpool, and today’s win made him only the third manager in Premier League history to win all three domestic competitions. However, the team is a long way off the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, who themselves have been struggling this season. Signings such as Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson have hardly set the world alight since big money moves to Anfield, and it’s even been rumoured that they might be on their way out in the summer.
A year ago today, Arsenal had an opportunity to end their trophy-less run against Birmingham and blew it. Since then they have lost 17 games in all competitions, losing top players such as Gaël Clichy, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fàbregas, so Liverpool will be hoping that the exact opposite will happen to them and that it will prove a springboard to greater success. Liverpool have already lost some of their main stars in recent years: Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso have all left Anfield. But the young talents who have replaced them can take Liverpool back to the top, on the back of the victory today.
For Cardiff, they can take great heart from their performance, and after so many years of nearly making it to the Premier League they finally look like they can actually make the step up. Kenny Miller came agonisingly close to winning the trophy for them in normal time, and they were just a penalty kick away from causing a massive upset – but they will hope, like Liverpool, that they can use this game as a catalyst for the rest of season and beyond.