Dalglish: Defeat won't affect FA Cup confidence
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists his team will still enter Saturday's FA Cup Final with Chelsea in confident mood despite a dispiriting 1-0 home loss to Fulham in their last game before the Wembley showpiece.
An early own goal from Martin Skrtel condemned Liverpool to another home loss in a season which has seen them set records for futility in terms of their league form at Anfield. With Dalglish opting to rest Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard with Chelsea in mind, it was hardly ideal preparation for Liverpool's second domestic cup final of the season.
But the Scotsman insisted that the defeat would have no bearing on the outcome on Saturday as his team attempts to add the FA Cup to the League Cup they won earlier this year. "If we had won this game 4-0 it wouldn't have made any difference for Saturday," said Dalglish. "It won't affect the Cup Final but it's disappointing and doesn't mean to say it makes it right.
"The attitude and desire was not there. We can't play at that tempo, we have to play quicker than that. I have to take part of the blame because I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to get minutes on the pitch and a chance to push their case.
"But the performance and attitude were very poor and that's not like us. Our attitude and approach is where it went wrong. A lot of people have to take responsibility for that. We tried to be fair to give everyone an opportunity and stake a claim for the Final. People here have come to support us and they deserved better than that.
"I wanted to give people an opportunity to get minutes on the pitch, but the attitude was very poor and that's nothing like us. There were one or two positives but a lot more negatives.
"I am culpable too, because giving people an opportunity to put themselves in the frame for Saturday was a contributory factor. If you're going to go into games with a bad attitude you will get nothing from the game - and that's what we got."
Carroll a lone bright spot
One of the few players to emerge with any credit was forward Andy Carroll who improved his chances of starting at Wembley. "It was good to see Andy back, he had a niggle at the weekend but he's back and fit and played the 90 minutes without any repercussion so that is good for us," said Dalglish.
But Carroll's performance was an isolated positive in a sea of negatives as Dalglish and Liverpool must face up to their worst home league season in history. They have one home league game remaining, coincidentally against Chelsea on Tuesday, and must win to avoid matching their worst ever home season in terms of league wins - the five they recorded in 1948/49.
Liverpool are also four goals short of matching their previous worst season in terms of home league goals, the 24 they scored in the 1903/04 campaign. They are also in danger of finishing outside the top eight of English football since 1953/54, a season which ended in relegation.
The fact that West Brom, currently managed by new England and former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, can finish above Liverpool to ensure that occurs will be particularly disappointing to the Anfield faithful. Hodgson was not popular at Anfield - although he was extremely so at Fulham where he enjoyed far more success - and Dalglish's mood was not helped by being asked to comment on his predecessor's appointment as England manager on Tuesday.
"Nothing has happened to change my mind about Roy," said Dalglish. "However fulsome I was in my praise of him when he came here a couple of weeks ago, I am now. I wish him all the best. I'm sure he's a very proud man tonight."
Fulham coach Billy McKinlay, standing in for Martin Jol who had a chest infection, became the first Fulham "manager" to ever collect a top flight league victory at Anfield in 42 attempts. "I didn't really worry about the history tonight," he said. "All that counts is the performance."