Why Liverpool v United will be like an afternoon at the Colosseum
Kenny Dalglish has given himself a wonderful platform by reaching the Carling Cup final.
Liverpool will start as red-hot favourites to beat Cardiff in the final and that would constitute a very good season.
If you had said to Liverpool’s owners at the start of the season they could have fourth place or the Carling Cup and getting into the Europa League then I think they would have taken the trophy all day long.
Liverpool are not quite ready for the Champions League. They are work in progress and the Carling Cup and the FA Cup gives them opportunities to make progress.
Dalglish has spent a lot of money but the team is evolving. Luis Suarez has been superb as a player, Andy Carroll is still finding his feet.
Of the summer signings, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam have been okay but there’s room for improvement.
Jose Enrique has perhaps been the stand-out signing of the summer and looks to be a super player.
If you had said a year or 18 months ago Lucas would be sorely missed then people would have sent you to get your head tested. But the fact is that Liverpool miss him so much.
Liverpool are getting there and, over the course of two legs, they thoroughly deserved to beat Manchester City.
The Carling Cup can be a springboard. When Chelsea were dominating, Manchester United won the Carling Cup and their revival started from there.
It’s also a piece of silverware. You can’t place too much importance on that. People stop talking about how long it is without a trophy and focus on other things.
Arsenal found that last season. That must also be the warning for Liverpool: don’t take the opposition for granted.
Liverpool haven’t been to Wembley since the Spice Boys wore their white suits and so it’s about time.
But now is also the chance to prove themselves against the arch enemy, Manchester United. You rarely see good lunchtime kick-offs but the atmosphere will be red-hot.
You have to expect some fierce stuff from the fans and you can’t tell them to stop shouting. The level of intensity will be frightening after the Suarez and Patrice Evra affair.
It brings added tension, spice and it will be like the Colosseum at Anfield. It will be fierce, nasty and bitter. It could also be a draw.
What often happens around these games is two teams end up playing each other many times quickly.
There’s the league game also to come and don’t bet against a replay.
United have an incredible ability to grind out results even though it is a very average Old Trafford side by their own exceptional standards.
They have an unshakeable belief. Sir Alex Ferguson has injuries but doesn’t moan about them and yet still gets the best out of his players.
Interview: John Cross