LONDON – Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish wants a determined response from the players he lambasted for their weekend performances when his team takes on Manchester City on Wednesday for a place in the League Cup final.
Dalglish tore into his players after Saturday’s woeful 3-1 loss at relegation-threatened Bolton and demanded a much improved display in the semifinals at Anfield.
With the club just one step away from a first final of any kind since the 2007 Champions League, Dalglish said his players were distracted by the match against City. Now they have the chance to show it was worth it.
“I was annoyed and disappointed, more so about the attitude, the commitment and the approach to the game,” Dalglish said. “That wasn’t us. All season we’ve been very complimentary about the way the boys have gone about their work but I don’t think you could say that on Saturday. Their approach to the game was poor.
“Whether they had their minds on the next two games, I don’t know. But every game we play is a very important game.”
Liverpool leads City 1-0 from the first leg and the Anfield crowd is set to be in full voice for the visit of the Premier League leaders.
“Now we will get our minds on the Man City game,” Dalglish said. “We have to solve our own problems. What do we do to put it right? Same as we always do: we work.”
City is on a high after a dramatic 3-2 win over Tottenham on Sunday, but manager Roberto Mancini is keen for his players to forget about the Premier League for a couple of days and focus on what would be a second cup final in two seasons.
Although City looks to have nudged Spurs out of the title race, Mancini believes his team can further improve.
“His words in the dressing room were very profound,” assistant manager David Platt said. “Regardless of the fact that it is a great victory against someone who is up there as well, he is not happy at the gift of a goal and the lapse in concentration to allow it to go in.
“He has made that clear in no uncertain terms.”
In the other semifinal, Crystal Palace leads second-tier rival Cardiff 1-0 ahead of their second-leg match on Tuesday.
Cardiff, which is third in the League Championship and challenging for promotion, got a taste of cup final action when the Welsh side lost 1-0 to Portsmouth in the 2008 FA Cup final.
The players want another.
“All of the lads know how much it would mean and we’re going to drive on together to try and reach Wembley,” Cardiff captain Mark Hudson told the club’s website. “We’re fully focused on what we need to do and we’re going out there to play with freedom and get the result.”