Carragher: Improve or my dream is over
Jamie Carragher acknowledges Liverpool need to show massive improvement for him to fulfil his dream of finally playing for the club at Wembley. The 31-year-old defender may have won four domestic trophies, but they were all at Cardiff City’s Millennium Stadium and Liverpool's last appearance at Wembley, in 1996, was before he broke into the team.
Against Reading at the Madejski Stadium, Rafael Benitez's men were close to being knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, but Carragher's Wembley dream is still alive after holding on for a replay at Anfield.
"The cup is massive," Carragher said. "It's always been massive for me. I've been around for long time, but I've not played at Wembley for Liverpool, only England. I've not even been to the semis at Wembley. I know I haven't got that long left, so I'm desperate to get to Wembley this season because it's massive for Liverpool.
"I've been to Cardiff a few times, but I'd love to get to Wembley. My son is six or seven years old and I'd love to take him to Wembley to watch Liverpool," he said. "I went as a kid to Wembley to watch games. Cardiff was great, but to go up Wembley Way in the coach with all the fans is something we want to do, but obviously we have to improve on this performance."
Carragher concedes it was a poor performance at Reading, with the hosts exposing Liverpool's zonal marking system for Simon Church's opener. Steven Gerrard's cross was dummied by Dirk Kuyt for the equaliser before the break, but Brian McDermott's men kept attacking in the second half and threatened an upset.
"Towards the end we were making sure we didn't lose it because they had a few set-pieces," Carragher said. "We're delighted to get them back to Anfield.
"When you play a team like Reading, they are always going to make it difficult with every set-piece a fight in the box. In the main, we dealt with them well because they seemed to have so many in the game. We know we didn't play well and the pitch wasn't great, but all credit to them."
It was not the performance expected from Liverpool after Benitez fielded a strong team that included Gerrard and Fernando Torres, highlighting the importance of the trophy to the club.
"At the start of the season you start with four trophies," Carragher said. "We're out of three of them because we're not going to win the league, [UEFA] Champions League or Carling Cup. We've got two trophies to go for and a top-four place. That's three things to go on. For me, there is no priority. We're desperate to win a trophy.
"We've had a lot of criticism this season. The same happened in 2005 and we won the Champions League, everyone forgets," he said. "I'm sure if we won the FA Cup or Europa League people will look back at this season and say they won a trophy. I'm determined to make sure we leave that mark."
Federici feels fit
Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici is confident of being fit for the replay after injuring his hamstring in the latter stages of the draw. "I came off for the last ten minutes for precautionary reasons," he said.
Federici is hopeful of Reading building on their performance and climbing away from relegation trouble in the Coca-Cola Championship. "It was a very positive performance for us," he said. "We need to go on from here. It's been a bad year from start to finish for us, with not getting promoted last season.
"This is a new year for us now and a fantastic start for us. The boys performed very well and we need to kick on from that."