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Carling Cup Win Just Another False Dawn

Wednesday 29th February 2012
Anyone who saw pictures from Sunday's League Cup Final at Wembley who wasn't familiar with English football could be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool had just won the biggest trophy of them all.

But in fact that trophy was the third most important domestic prize in the English game and was achieved after defeating – on penalties – a team currently seventh in the second tier.

Amid the jubilant scenes sparked by the less famous Gerrard's missed penalty, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish proclaimed that his team has a glorious future ahead. “This,” said Dalglish, “is only the start. More trophies will follow.”

Such emphatic remarks raised more than one eyebrow, none more so than with Manchester United fans that love nothing more than having a dig at their rivals from down the East Lancs Road. Much as Liverpool fans taunted their Mancunian counterparts when the Carling Cup was the only trophy the Red Devils lifted in 2006, now they have to endure the backlash.

Ironically, in the wake of Sunday's game Dalglish and sections of the media cited United as an example to describe the Carling Cup as a “springboard” towards more trophies. But it clearly didn't serve as a springboard for Birmingham in 2011 as they were relegated three months earlier and Middlesbrough in 2004.

United were a team with a very young core – Ronaldo, Rooney and Richardson were all 21, O' Shea was 24, and Vidic and Evra were 25, with a few older players like Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Edwin Van Der Sar and Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who would soon depart for Spain, to support them.

More importantly, those players had already won various honours with the club. Liverpool, by contrast, are a team whose older players – with the exception of Gerrard and Reina – who had won little until Sunday afternoon, which will make the transition to become a winning team even harder.

Obviously, a trophy is a trophy and should be celebrated as such, but the scenes seen at Wembley represented what Liverpool have become these days: a cup team good enough to negotiate their way through a domestic competition once in a while but a long way away from bringing the real glory days back to Anfield.
Daniele Cancian

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