Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish recently launched the following impassioned celebration of mediocrity:
"These players have done fantastically well and if anyone is going to come in they will have to be a hell of a player to do better than what this group has done. These boys are in pole position and they are sitting there comfortable; not one of them can be disappointed with what they have contributed this season"
There seems to be an increasing effort to convince the fans to accept mediocrity, and Steve Nicol is the latest to try and gloss over this season's league failure. Speaking to ESPN recently, Nicol argued:
"Kenny wants to win the league, so seventh is not acceptable for Kenny, but they have the Carling Cup in the bag, and a good chance at the FA Cup, so I think they're moving forward.
"You just have to look at where Liverpool are now against where they were a year ago. They're much better this year; they didn't win the Carling Cup last year, did they?
Nicol is entitled to his opinion but I have to admit, I despise this way of thinking. If Liverpool finish 7th (or worse) with fewer league points than last season, how does that make the team 'better' than last year? How does that constitute overall progress?
Kenny and his ex-teammates are trying their hardest to change fan-perception (i.e manage expectations downward) but the idea that winning the Carling Cup is a sign of overall progress is (IMO) nonsense. Perpetuating that view also damages Liverpool's credibility, especially when revered club legends like Dalglish and Nicol use it as an excuse in public.
Constantly going on about the importance of the Carling Cup is over-compensating, and it makes Liverpool look desperate. Yes, it's a trophy, but it seems to me that the club is endlessly trying to ascribe a level of importance to it that just doesn't exist.
If Alex Ferguson endlessly lionised the Carling Cup; used it as an excuse for poor league performance, and actually argued that winning it is more important than finishing 4th (as Steven Gerrard has done) I would find it hilarious, and I'm sure lots of rival fans would ridicule United.
Plus, it's not as if winning that trophy has done the club any good, is it?! Since the win, league form has become progressively worse, yet we were constantly told by Dalglish, his players and ex-players beforehand that winning the Carling Cup would push the club into 4th place.
I don't know about anyone else, but Nicol and Dalglish are never going to convince me that winning the Carling Cup is a sign that Liverpool are 'moving forward'.