Cup coup makes Liverpool’s season a success

argues that a potential cup double for Liverpool represents a successful season, regardless of their faltering league form

Liverpool have won just five of 17 league games at Anfield, yet could win two trophies, Image: theMatthewBlack via flickr Creative Commons

Liverpool have won just five of 17 league games at Anfield, yet could win two trophies, Image: theMatthewBlack via flickr Creative Commons

“If you’re going to cover up the cracks at a football club, then doing it with silverware is a highly attractive option”, or so says the BBC’s Phil McNulty in his undecided evaluation of Liverpool’s season. A potential cup double, he concedes, might make it difficult to view the campaign as anything short of successful, but failing to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final he warns, would inevitably draw a distinctly mediocre league performance into far sharper focus.

It is unfortunate that McNulty and so many others should feel this way, as it seems in a generation characterised by spoilt millionaire teenagers and footballing playboys, it is television rights and not trophies which quantify success. As such, amid a poor run of league form, Liverpool’s Carling Cup win in February has soon been forgotten and unless followed up by a second crown in May, it won’t even serve as adequate consolation to the avaricious demands of the commercialised modern fan.

Indeed, it seems we now live in an era where the Premier League represents the be all and end all of domestic competition, where cups can often be viewed as superfluous and a distraction from the pursuit of a higher league finish, which is more likely to yield greater financial rewards while also showcasing the depth and durability of your squad.

But is a fourth placed finish really more satisfying than the euphoria of a cup win? Should we really dismiss a trip to Wembley, and something that will live in far fonder memory than the humbling your team suffered at the hands of Milan?

This brings me neatly to Arsenal, who have not failed to finish in the top four in 16 successive seasons, but their trophy drought will now be extended into an eighth year. And while some may argue that the cup runs at Liverpool provide little more than a guise for deeper problems within the club’s infrastructure, can the same not be said for teams content to be consistently second, third or even fourth best? Sol Campbell certainly thinks so, and he points out that no one will remember “that season we finished fourth.”

Now I’ll admit, by their own illustrious standards, Liverpool’s mere top half finish may seem disappointing, but we should remember that this is still a team in transition, one built just last summer with plenty of years ahead of them, and their potential marketing tag as double cup winners is more than can be said of some of the teams currently chasing the top four.

As a Newcastle fan myself, I have watched their season with some ironic jealousy. While my team is poised to clinch coverage by Thursday night Channel 5 by virtue of our impending top six finish, I am made increasingly aware that Liverpool have already ensured the same and despite finishing lower than us, could do so with two trophies.

Even if we defy the odds and snatch fourth, I can’t help but wonder what I’d prefer – a Champions League campaign in which I have already consigned myself to the low expectations and enigma of the group stage, or a novelty cup win with Cisse scoring twice?

Liverpool’s season might not have been great, but it would be erroneous to suggest that it has been unproductive. For Dalglish, it is an opportunity to restate a belief that his rebuilding remains a work in progress, and with the possibility of following up the Carling Cup success with an FA Cup victory over Chelsea, we see tangible evidence for this theory.

Sure, the big money signings can be singled out for underperforming, but when I think about the origins of these players, I find myself asking if the scrutiny is entirely justified? Andy Carroll was signed following his goal scoring exploits largely in the Championship, while Jordan Henderson was young and inexperienced. Charlie Adam was prised from a side that suffered relegation and Stewart Downing, was Stewart Downing. Ultimately, if we consider the mediocrity couched in Liverpool’s squad this season, it seems if anything, they’ve exceeded expectations; and regardless of the FA Cup outcome, the campaign must be viewed as a success.


  1. I, also being a Newcastle fan, feel that your “ironic jealousy” is completely unfounded, and quite disappointing. Liverpool have had a shameful season (on and off the pitch), and are fast becoming an empty shell of a football club. In spite of the ludicrous spending, they are still barely a team, never mind a “team in transition”.

    So I have to disagree. The domestic trophies are, and will continue to be, a distraction from the important truth: qualification for the Champions League is everything.

    If you really think winning the Carling Cup is a consolation, just take a look at Birmingham City.

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  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love European football and I look forward to the atmosphere at St James’ Park next season, whether it be the Europa League or The Champions League.

    But I don’t think 3 months of Channel 5/ITV coverage can top the feeling of watching your team win a cup final.

    I’ve watched us lose two finals, a host of semi finals and seen us finish runners up or third in the league having topped the table at Christmas. Newcastle is a club of false dawns and near misses and while I would support the club no matter what, I can’t help but feel I want a sign that my loyalty is not going unrecognised.

    Obviously I wouldn’t take a cup if it meant relegation, but ask yourself this:

    Lose 4-0 to Barca in the round of 16 or beat Chelsea 1-0 in the FA cup final? And to make it even better, a geordie scores the winner.

    We’ve piggy backed on the reputation of our stadium and our fans for too long, we need to show everyone why we deserve the title of BIG CLUB.

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  3. Teams play football to win trophies. It is very possible that Liverpool will have entered 3 competitions and walked away with 2 trophies, which is a fantastic achievement, particularly when you consider they have had to compete with the likes of both Manchester clubs and Chelsea to get to the finals.

    Of course, the premiership has been a complete failure this season and huge improvements will need to be made for next season.

    Look at Arsenal. They haven’t won a trophy for quite a few years now. Yes, they consistently finish in the top 4 and have had a couple of semi-decent runs in the champions league. But their team won’t be remembered for qualifying for the CL lots of times, or for the scorer of that oh-so-famous goal in the quarter-finals before they got knocked out etc. Whereas, pretty much every football fan can tell you about Gerrard’s long-range goal v West Ham in the FA Cup final or the final in Istanbul. Football is for memories of cup finals and trophies. Anyone writing off Liverpool’s season as a failure due to the poor league finish should think about how ecstatic they’d be with a (possible) cup double.

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  4. Firstly, Newcastle *will* deserve their big club status if they qualify for the Champions League; that’s what attracts the star players, not winning domestic cups.

    As for Arsenal, they may be suffering a trophy drought but there is so much potential there that it just doesn’t matter. Their perpetual CL qualification, playing style, location, manager (I could go on) is enough to attract quality players from all over the world. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see Lukas Podolski having much interest in Liverpool FC.

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  5. I can’t see why Podolski wouldn’t have much of an interest in Liverpool, Suarez came, why wouldn’t the German? Liverpool is still a huge name in global football and will be for a very long time yet. With the new owners as well, they’ve shown they’re willing to spend big bucks and are continuing to look at either building a new stadium or redeveloping Anfield. Admittedly, the money spent on the most recent purchases did raise eyebrows, but the money is there, as are the possible wages that would still attract big names. I’m interested to see what happens over Summer for Liverpool.

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  6. Absolutely hilarious that a Newcastle fan calls Liverpool an empty shell of a club.

    This from a fan of a club who haven’t won a trophy for donkeys years, have no history and have a stadium named after a bargain basement sports retailer. Good one.

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  7. The Newcastle fan who wrote this article didn’t do that…….although this arrogant sense of entitlement is exactly why Liverpool are in this problem in the first place!

    My original point was, that given what Liverpool have become, this season has been successful.

    Big clubs go through this. Newcastle went through it after the Robson era when we were a big club with small players – Lee Bowyer, Titus Bramble etc.

    Aston Villa are going through it right now….in a big way!

    Liverpool have to be realistic with themselves. At present they have not got a top four squad, so they should be happy with the successes they have had!

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  8. I think we have a mackem in our midst!

    But anyway, to sum up, I can see Liverpool going the way of Leeds Utd. I can just imagine them desperately trying to claw their way into the Championship playoffs in 3-4 seasons time…

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  9. @micheal – if you knew anything about football and it’s recent history you’d know Leeds went the way they did because they overspent and budgeted on consistently reaching the CL semi finals.

    Liverpools owners haven’t leveraged debt on them so that isn’t going to happen.

    Dont worry, I’m sure Mike Ashley will take you back where you belong soon.

    When did you last win anything?

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  10. This is not a debate about which club is bigger.

    “No,” don’t make stupid comments about Newcastle’s economic policy. It’s seen the club go from the championship to Europe in less than 3 seasons. Yours has seen you buy Stewart Downing for 20 million quid.

    Newcastle haven’t won a trophy for a long time. Ergo they have underachieved. But they have had sustained periods in European football, the adequate level of success to warrant their big club status, along with their stadium and fans.

    (I also point out they have the 8th highest total of trophies in England)

    Liverpool have underachieved this season also. But not in a completely terrible way, HENCE I WROTE THIS ARTICLE.

    God though, you Liverpool fans are so insufferable. This is why the rest of the league are taking pleasure in your poor league form, because you’re all so arrogant!

    Just accept, that like all big clubs, you are going through a bad patch.

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  11. Just got back from a trip to the 80s. Met “No” there. He must have sneaked into the TARDIS with me on the way back to the present.

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  12. I was just making out the point that Liverpool have won 33 trophies since Newcastle last won one. Including one THIS season. Oh, and rather a few since the 90s. Your knowledge and wit really has gone down since David Tennant hang up the sonic screwdriver.

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