After Sunday inevitably talks have sprung up about a “pincer movement” on Wembley.
It’s all premature but nonetheless I guess it’s encouraging that we should be in the running for two cups when some of our so called rivals have effectively seen their chances of silverware end before the clocks go forward even though the intangible “achievement” of qualifying for the Champions League still gives some hope?
For us it’s all too easy to be negative and look, for example, our home form and say it could have been better however, a sense of perspective needs to be maintained and Kenny bought it when discussing this Sunday’s final.
“We have moved on from where we were last year, progressing in the FA Cup and the final of this cup and are four points behind fourth in seventh place – this time last year we were nowhere near that”
A win in one or both of the Cups would be tangible evidence of that improvement. However despite playing a team a division below us on Sunday and being the highest placed Premiership club definitely through to the FA Cup sixth round, there is clearly no room for complacency. Stoke, our next opponents in the FA Cup, present a stern challenge as their four points out of six from our league encounters prove. However, we can take encouragement from the win in the Carling Cup and, dare I say after all the draws we’ve “achieved”, home “advantage”. As for Cardiff on Sunday they, despite a few bad results recently, still ride high in the Championship and cannot be taken lightly.
No doubt many still see the Premiership as the priority, be it the title or, much more realistically at the moment, Champions League qualification? However, it’s been a while since we had a good run so all this makes a nice change, the perfect antidote to not being in Europe? Above all it appears to have bought a calming attitude towards the squad for example the barbs at Andy Carroll appear to have died down a bit as we’ve progressed and he’s improved.
“I feel like I am doing well. I have just started scoring goals and I think it has all come together. I am happy, more confident and things are going all right.”
Whether Carroll plays on Sunday is still a matter for debate, surely Kenny can’t leave Bellamy out given his form in this competition and the fact that it’s against his home town club? However, despite this, the striker is doing a good job of talking himself out of a place.
“I’ve never played against them and it is not something I’ve really looked forward to doing to be honest. Football can sometimes be very unpredictable and I didn’t really look at this and plan on playing a cup final against Cardiff or with them. “I certainly wouldn’t celebrate (if he scores) – but I tried not to against Manchester City but with the occasion and the moment you can get carried away.”
I don’t know what this trend is of players not celebrating if they score against their old club out of respect for it. Surely if they had respect for it they’d still be there in the first place and if they were shipped out against their will then surely they would relish scoring against them?
Finally Tommy Smith, Liverpool legend and hard man, has sold his entire medal collection for £130,000. Smith is the latest in a long line of successful players from yesteryear to do this. The reason is sadly familiar.
“I’ve done this not because I’m on my uppers, but because I’m getting older and I need to think about my family and my ability to help them in the future.”
For some of today’s players £130,000 is less than a weeks wages which puts it all into perspective especially since none of them will ever achieve Smith’s success or be half the player he was, it puts things into perspective. Perhaps it’s wrong to berate them as times have changed but, at the risk of sounding like some old dad, I hope the players of today realise how lucky they are. Sadly I’ve a feeling that the vast majority don’t?