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Bellamy haunts old club as Reds book Wembley ticket

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Phil McNulty | 09:11 UK time, Thursday, 26 January 2012

Craig Bellamy never had a price tag to justify when he returned to Liverpool from Manchester City in August - only a score to settle with himself after one previously unfulfilling season at Anfield.

When Bellamy left for West Ham United in 2007, his departure was largely met with the indifference reserved for a player who had given it his best shot at the club he loved but came up short.

In fact Bellamy's best shot is often remembered as the one he took at then team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club on a team-bonding trip before a Champions League game in Barcelona, though differences were spectacularly settled as both scored in Liverpool's subsequent win at the Nou Camp.

So when Kenny Dalglish took advantage of Bellamy's broken relationship with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini and offered the 32-year-old the opportunity to finish old business in the final hours before the transfer window closed, it was a deal without a downside.

Bellamy's strike earned Liverpool their first trip to Wembley since 1996. Photo: Getty

Dalglish strengthened a key area in his squad without having to dip further into the pockets of Liverpool's American owners and in return he got a striker bursting to take this unexpected second chance.

If this was effectively a free present from City to Liverpool, it is the gift that keeps on giving and its latest offering was the inspiration behind the club's return to Wembley for the first time since 1996 after an enthralling Carling Cup semi-final second leg.

Anfield reverberated to the sound of appreciation for Bellamy when he was substituted in the dying seconds of this 2-2 draw, 16 minutes after providing the highlight of an outstanding individual performance with the goal that took Liverpool back to the scene of old triumphs.

Bellamy not only took his latest club a step closer to ending a trophy drought stretching back to 2006, he punished the manager who made it clear there was no place for him at his evolving Manchester City.

The recent criticism aimed at Dalglish, and which he turned on his players after their lamentable display in defeat at Bolton on Saturday, has homed in heavily on the price he has paid to bolster his squad.

Andy Carroll, at £35m not even in Liverpool's starting line-up, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson have been subjected to varying degrees of scrutiny, as has Dalglish's use of funds provided by the Fenway Sports Group.

No-one can question the wisdom of the late deal to bring Bellamy back for another spell as he once against showed this has all the hallmarks of a move that will soon be viewed as a masterstoke.

It was not simply Bellamy's bursting energy or his non-stop nuisance value, it was the quality contained in his performance summed up by the decisive goal past world-class City keeper Joe Hart, who was in such prime form that it was going to take a strike of fine creation to beat him.

Bellamy gave the lie to the theory that dodgy knees make it impossible for him to play two games in a week and it would be a brave decision by Dalglish to leave him out of a third when Manchester United arrive at Anfield for an FA Cup fourth-round tie on Saturday.

He was still running with some vigour long after the final whistle, one of the last players to end an energetic warm-down in a deserted, rain-lashed Anfield.

City made a fight of it, twice taking the lead through Nigel de Jong and Edin Dzeko, only for Steven Gerrard's disputed penalty, given after Micah Richards unwittingly blocked Daniel Agger's shot onto his hand, and Bellamy's late strike to settle the issue.

Dalglish celebrated each goal with the trademark raised hands and beaming smile of his playing days - and even seemed a little emotional when referee Phil Dowd sounded his final whistle.

Over the two legs Liverpool were the better side. One glance at the worksheets of the respective goalkeepers told the tale on Wednesday. Hart was stretched throughout whereas Liverpool counterpart Pepe Reina did little apart from pick two goals out of his net.

The first serious doubts about Dalglish's return to Liverpool have been expressed during a recent frustrating run, but he knows better than anyone that silverware cures most ills and silences most critics.

This is not to suggest the questions were not valid. They were and no-one can mount a serious argument against the assertion that many of Liverpool's signings must do better, but a place in the Carling Cup final will settle the worries.

Liverpool may not yet be in shape to finish in the top four, but a trophy will keep the wolf from the door for a while yet and they will be heavy favourites against Cardiff City next month.

The Carling Cup dropped off Liverpool's radar in the years when the Champions League was on the agenda. The club, not so long ago, had bigger fish to fry but there will be no shortage of celebrations should Cardiff - and they have shown more than enough to suggest they will be dangerous - be beaten.

It is the opportunity, as Arsenal fans might tell you, to make a start after a period without success and offer up tangible evidence that Dalglish is doing something right. It is not the game's major trophy but is not to be sniffed at when you have gone through a period without one.

The Carling Cup is important to Liverpool as a potential trophy and as a showcase - not justification - for Dalglish's work.

And Dalglish has made it his business to have a serious crack at the Carling Cup. He has fielded strong sides from the early rounds and through away draws against Exeter City, Brighton, Stoke City and Chelsea. He has treated the competition with respect.

For City boss Mancini, once more bemoaning what he regarded as a poor refereeing decision, his attention will now be focused even more sharply on winning the Premier League.

How he will look forward to the return of captain Vincent Kompany after suspension. Mancini juggled his defensive formation, playing a three-man central formation perhaps designed to help the uncertain Stefan Savic.

It was a ploy that failed as Savic, a bag of nerves, was removed for his own good after 45 minutes and more normal service resumed.

This was a night that belonged to Liverpool and Dalglish could not resist suggesting that if Mancini had any more players like Bellamy that he did not want, he hoped he still had his telephone number.

After Mancini saw the player he pushed to the margins come back to haunt him, Dalglish should not expect a call any time soon.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Great result. I didn't give us much hope after losing all our defensive midfielders, which leaves a big hole when Gerrard and Adam both follow their instincts, but we created far more chances and deserved to go though. City really miss Toure and Kompany but once they are back I expect them to win the league quite easily.

  • Comment number 2.

    I watched the game .

  • Comment number 3.

    Still a little worrying that lfc were so dominant but conceded 2 goals (although the de jong goal was stunning). Great two legged victory overall, though Liverpool obviously wanted it a whole lot more. Bellamy has been a great extra option but Carroll needs more of a chance if he is to be a striker for the future as intended. Liverpool had so many corners which were wasted, maybe a few more short corners and ground level passes would have suited the strikers being played. Anyway bring on the final!

  • Comment number 4.

    A fair assessment on Bellamy: great play.
    When I remember the incident with Reo-Cocker, the question can only be: Reo-Cocker who? the anonymous who was disagreeing with his manager, with the manager being Martin O'Neil?

    Liverpool were better by a mile yesterday to the point one has to wonder where the power was in the powerhouse called Manchester City. Had it not been for Hart, the scoreline would be embarrassing in the first half.

    What puzzles me in Mancini, with regard to yesterday's match, is why start without Aguero? What's the need to rest him, starting with Dzeko up front, with the next match being 8 days later?

    The result does wonders for Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool and exactly the opposite to Manchester City. The Carling Cup is the best tonic for the rest of the season when you win it.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2, HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    good choice. congrats.

  • Comment number 6.

    @5

    Cheers. :)

  • Comment number 7.

    It was a really good game but as an underdog supporter i must say: CARDIFF FOR THE CUP!

  • Comment number 8.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 9.

    Could see a blog coming a mile off, yet not one talking about the Cardiff v Palace game which was a big game seeing as the winner would be the first from outside the top flight for 11 years to reach the CC final.

    Anyway the final will go to penalties; Bellamy to miss and celebrate with Cardiff fans!

    Or maybe not.

  • Comment number 10.

    Another coulple of inconsistent decisions which change the results. In the most recent Arsenal v ManU game (I think that is the one) the referee waved away an appeal for a similar offence; in fact the offending player actually raised his hands to block the shot. Good game overall. By the way, is there any action to be taken against Crouch for trying to pull the opponents eye out in the match against WB?

  • Comment number 11.

    Congratulations to Liverpool, but Gerrard saying 'It's a dream come true' for them to get to the Carling Cup Final shows how far they've fallen.

  • Comment number 12.

    from a purely neutrals perspective it was not a bad show.
    pity the ref yet again makes a huge gaff, however City had more than enough time on the clock to make amends, which they managed to do.

    over the two legs, and again from a neutrals perspective Liverpool were the rightful winners and so go on to Wembley.

    as sure as eggs are eggs City will now go on to win the Title.

    but mathematically, as of todays date, its still possible for Arsenal to catch them, however as its a fluid situation, this could change quickly.

  • Comment number 13.

    Terrific performance from the whole Liverpool team they thoroughly deserved to go through: on the front foot the entire game and great individual performances from the midfield and Bellamy. Liverpool were so comfortable they even went down to a 10 man team by bringing Andy Carrol on for a final few minutes comic appearance.

    As for TreasureChester City can they really have spent a quarter of a billion just to compete (from January onwards) in one domestic trophy this year? Out of the English FA Cup, out of the CL and now out of the 'mickey-mouse' cup too! Staggering waste of talent.

    Well done to Cardiff too on reaching the Carling Cup Final. They have a better chance against Liverpool than City.

    Finally, will Kenny dress his players up in white suits like their last Wembley appearance?

  • Comment number 14.

    My thoughts on the Final.

    The Welsh sing much better than any Scouse can.

  • Comment number 15.

    3.
    At 11:51 26th Jan 2012, btbond86 wrote:

    Still a little worrying that lfc were so dominant but conceded 2 goals (although the de jong goal was stunning).
    _________________________________________

    I was suprised Liverpool scored 2 goals with their poor finishing this season.

    I think De Jong slipped , so he just hit the ball on his way to ground to avoid losing it. But it was a great strike and ended up in the net.

  • Comment number 16.

    Three pluses. We're through to a final. city can concentrate on beating the other lot to the league now and we scored twice at home!

    Happy days.

  • Comment number 17.

    great blog from a great journo, go liverpool. YNWA

  • Comment number 18.

    #16
    Out of interest (assuming your a Liverpool fan, I apologise if not), would winning the Carling Cup and finishing 5th, 6th or lower really be enough for Liverpool fans this season? Dalglish has spent an absolute fortune so surely the fans would have been hoping for Champions League at the very least?

  • Comment number 19.

    Shame about the result last night, Phil Dowd poor ref and a porr decision for the penalty, which seems to be shaping our season decisions like that keep piling up.

    Well done Liverpool were better on the night, another game we didnt win but please with the performance.

    Bellamy has always been liked at City and was my player of the season along with many others the season of the 'terry scandal' he was brilliant. No city fans boo him and i doubt he was out for 'revenge' its just one of those things, good luck to Bellamy.

  • Comment number 20.

    mancini was an idiot to let bellamy go, but surely the big blog news is martin atkinson's virus?

  • Comment number 21.

    Like the photo of Bellamy doing the Henrik Larsson goalscoring tongue-out pose!

  • Comment number 22.

    The Carling Cup... "is the opportunity, as Arsenal fans might tell you, to make a start after a period without success"

    Forgive me if I have missed something here Phil, but didn't Arsenal LOSE the final last year ??

  • Comment number 23.

    What I found ironic about last night-for all the many millions of pounds worth of talemnt on the pitch, the stabdout performers were the £600,000 acquisition from Shrewsbury and the player signed on a free after an injury hit spell in the Championship! Also find it ironic that for all the big money Dalglish has spalshed out, the only ones who really look worth it are the bargain buys Enrique and Bellamy

    Really don't understand why Mancini decided to alienate Bellamy like that. You could make a decent argument for him being their best player 09/10. I remember him making the likes if Terry and Ferdinand look like pub teamers that season

    As for last night, was a very good game for us neutrals. The poenalty was dodgy but I really don't think City can have too many complaints, they were by far second best over both legs. it was Joe Hart';s heroics that kept them in this tie at all

    I wonder if it's too premature to start talking of a crisis at City? Startling quite how ordinary they've looked with no Toure or Kompany. Scraped past Wigan and Spurs (a match they would have lost had Defoe known how to finish) Savic looks hopelessly out of his depth, I I don't get why they didn't give Onuoha (imo a rather under-rated player) a chance instead. Lescott-Savic looks a wholly undaunting prospect for opposition teams

  • Comment number 24.

    Good blog Phil. Bellamy has been outstanding since he came back. What I do dislike though is the constant whine about Carroll and Downing, plus to a degree that of Adam and Henderson.

    What about the mega successful signings? Suarez, Enrique and Bellers.

    Thats three that compare with anything anyone else can talk about. Two that are more than OK and one being unfairly slammed (Downing).

    That leaves Carroll as the poor buy so far......As he is 21 he has time on his side.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a City fan, I'm pleased for Bellamy who always gave 100 per cent for the club. Mancini obviously had his own reasons for letting him go and that's football.

    As for a "crisis" at City, I thought they played well last night with Silva again outstanding. With Kompany returning, the back four and the team in general will be stronger and will hopefully push on in the League.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fair play to Bellamy. But what a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. He can be a most generous and charitable soul away from football but around a football field everyone beware. Divisive, foul-mouthed and disrespectful with the ability to alienate friend and foe. Not the best around the young players either by all accounts. Liverpool can keep him!

  • Comment number 27.

    18.
    At 12:25 26th Jan 2012, We all follow United wrote:

    Out of interest, would winning the Carling Cup and finishing 5th, 6th or lower really be enough for Liverpool fans this season?

    ________________________________________

    I would say yes to your question.
    I believe realistic Liverpool fans realise that the team is work in progress and is not good enough to finish in the top 4 this season. Unless they get a lot of results going in their favour for the remaining games of the season.
    In my opinion Liverpool need to get 2 or 3 good new players to be able to challenge for the title.

  • Comment number 28.

    11.At 12:09 26th Jan 2012, We all follow United wrote:
    Congratulations to Liverpool, but Gerrard saying 'It's a dream come true' for them to get to the Carling Cup Final shows how far they've fallen.

    He said it is a dream come true for him to lead his team out at Wembley. As it probably is for any English captain.

  • Comment number 29.

    23.At 12:28 26th Jan 2012, Terry and Lampard-true Blues brothers wrote:

    1st of all, a pricetag put on a player doesnt automatically guarantee sucess as you will very well know being a Chelsea fan, god knows you've wasted a lot of money doing the same.

    If we are having a 'crisis' by being knocked out at the semi final stage, still top of the premiership, Kompany returns against Everton.........well i'll have a crisis most seasons then please. It may be cliche but winning ugly wins titles, doesnt matter how you win its winning that counts!

  • Comment number 30.

    So no mention of Adam's blatant kick on Dzeko that the referee pretended not to see? Then the penalty that never was? At 2-0 City the outcome of the game would have been completely different. Bellamy would not play for City for 2 consecutive games so yes it was a wise decision to let him go. It needed him to go down all the way to the Championship and back for him to change his attitude and improve his fitness. To be honest not many teams fancy the League Cup. Even Wolves play their reserve team!

  • Comment number 31.

    The Carling Cup... "is the opportunity, as Arsenal fans might tell you, to make a start after a period without success"

    ------------------------

    I think some still think of it as a moral victory :)

    I don't know if this is correct but I'd heard that if Arsenal finish this season without a trophy, it either equals or beats their longest ever barren streak. In which case a dickensian epitaph for Wenger might well read "It was the best of times and the worst of times"!

  • Comment number 32.

    Good game last night Liverpool deserved the result. (19) yes the ref made a mistake and I know two wrongs don't make a right, but don't forget what City got away with Sunday.

  • Comment number 33.

    City's form now over the past 16 games reads W8 D3 L5. And one of those wins was meaningless against Bayern's shadow team, another was very very fortunate against Spurs the other day, and the Arsenal 1-0 was a travesty. They did well to beat bottom team Wigan with a set piece, I suppose, but the barnstorming hype monster of the first few months of the season seems to have left early, replaced by a stuttering mish mash, over-reliant on Silva, too easily exposed at the back and lacking tactical and personal discipline, apparently stemming from the management.

  • Comment number 34.

    #10, saintgina,

    If you look at the Arsenal v Man Utd match again, you will see in the instance where you allege there is a similar case that the United player had his hands close to his body while Richards did an excellent simulation of a goalkeeper trying to get the ball with his hands. I can't see where you find the similarities.

  • Comment number 35.

    33.At 12:40 26th Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:

    and all that mashed together, yet we still remain top of the league, pain the wins, stats anyway in which you like there is only one thing that matters..............

    The league table.

    jealousy is a very horrible trait to have.....

  • Comment number 36.

    34 not sure the penalty is a clear cut error either. I mean Richards has effectively saved a goal-bound shot. yes, it hit his boot first, but if his arms weren't out like that forming a block then it wouldn't have hit them. ultimately it is deliberate handball in the sense that he deliberately had his arms there. That was not the natural position for his arms to be in.

  • Comment number 37.

    #27
    Fair enough. What about Gerrard's comments yesterday that he'd 'rather win the Carling Cup every year than qualify for the Champions League'? Isn't that showing a lack of ambition to get back amongst Europe's elite?

    I know there aren't many trophies to go round and winning one is good for the fans but surely a club of Liverpool's size wants to be amongst Europe's elite as opposed to aiming to win a competition the vast majority of entrants play their reserves in?

  • Comment number 38.

    trying to get the ball with his hands

    .....................................................

    your embarassing yourself here with this attemmpt

    WUM

  • Comment number 39.

    35 the league table says that there's 22 games of a 38 match season gone. so what?

  • Comment number 40.

    As a neutral I was surprised how attacking Liverpool were in last nights match. I assumed that they would be defensive and holding out for a 0-0 draw. They were by far the better team and looked like they were going to score everytime they ran at Savic. Defensively Man City looked shaky and had it not been Joe Hart in between the sticks then the scoreline could have been a lot more one sided.

    With reference to the penalty, it was unlucky, but I can see why it was given. Although Mancini may have issues with the penalty, there are more pressing reasons why Manchester City will find themselves watching the final on TV.

  • Comment number 41.

    34 exactly. richards did a pretty good impression of stephan henchoz.

  • Comment number 42.

    the carling cup is for the development of young!

    good stuff steveie, your dreams have been answered.... a carling cup final!!!

  • Comment number 43.

    39.At 12:44 26th Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:

    were still top in this oh so horrible crisis.......says more about the other teams than it does about us i would say.

    Anyone trying to convince themselves that Richards was a clear penalty, you either 1. dont play football at any level or 2. are bitter/jealous 3. are a WUM

  • Comment number 44.

    Anyone But City.

  • Comment number 45.

    Phil you should just rename your blog "Phil McNulty's Liverpool blog" seeing every other day you look for any morsel of positivity surrounding the club to try and convince everyone that Liverpool are yet again the greatest team that has ever walked the planet.
    It wouldnt be so bad but so damn blatantly obvious. Between you, Lawrenson and Hansen visitors of this sight are never done hearing about how special a club Liverpool and how its only a matter of weeks before they are dominating world football.
    They are out of the title race and will be extremely lucky to get a Champions League spot but you still somehow manage to talk about them as if theres nothing else worth talking about.
    I don't support any of the top four so this isn't a rivalry thing where im just getting jealous of their coverage - its just a football fan thing where im getting really bored of the sites obsession with Liverpool.

  • Comment number 46.

    entertaining games and IMO the better team over 2 legs will be at wembley.

    i would like to ask poster soul-patch-of-david-villa if he could be so generous and explain us again his statement a few weeks ago that keeper Pantilimon and Savic are much more quality than Hart and Lescott...

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    I doubt that Manchester City are in any sort of crisis. The absense of Kompany identifies an area where they need reinforcements in defense, especially missing Kolo Toure as well as a cover. The only question mark is that this should be expected and Savic is not ready yet for the Premiership. He looks out of his depth.

    On the other hand, when Yaya Toure returns, I expect City to be back to their best. I think his quality is what they're missing big time. To me, he's their best player.

    If City doesn't start clicking again when these two are both back, then it is worrying times for City because it is then when they would start thinking they might end the season with nothing, something that can only add pressure. Until then though, they have every reason to be happy, finding themselves at the summit of the Premiership, wth two key players missing.

  • Comment number 49.

    Once again, the referee has killed the game. The refereeing is killing the game in general, I'm sick and tired of this. I actually cancelled my Sky subscription immediately after the game because of this. How could it have been a penalty, clearly Phil Dowd does not have a clue about balance. Richards could not have entered that challenge with his hands by his sides. Major blunder by Dowd. The FA need to do something radical about this because it is ruining the game.

    One idea would be to through more money and make it into a proper profession. Doctors and lawyers make mistakes but they are accountable for it. These professions are regulated. Refereeing is a law unto itself. There should also be a crackdown on the media asking managers about referees / refereeing decisions because they can't actually say what they truly think without facing a charge.

    Not enough people want to become referees, the talent is not there. If it was highly paid then the talent would be attracted and there would be lots of competition. the qualification to become a referee should be very difficult, with say a 30% pass rate :) Something needs done and quickly.

    Also players hounding the ref needs to stop, yellows and red cards would sort that out. Ref's decisions are being influenced by players and managers.

    At corners, there are loads of offences. More refs, camera assistance. No fear of yellow cards and red cards being shown would sort all this out.

    Referees are also not consistent in there own decision-making which is terrible. I expect a little inconsistency between refs though.

  • Comment number 50.

    Great match.

    Harsh penalty.

    City stuttering...

    Imagine being stuck in a lift with Craig Bellamy and Luis Suarez...

  • Comment number 51.

    23.At 12:28 26th Jan 2012, Terry and Lampard-true Blues brothers wrote:

    "I wonder if it's too premature to start talking of a crisis at City?"

    ____________

    Yes. Yes it is.
    So because they scraped past teams like wigan they are in crisis? They are top of the league. I distinctly remember Man Utd losing to Blackburn...Newcastle...among others, and there has been no talk of crisis at the club. Behave!

  • Comment number 52.

    48.At 12:52 26th Jan 2012, Reds19 wrote:

    clear and honest view, i salute you.

    Savic is 21 years old and in time should become a decent player, he is totally out of his depth been thrown in the deep end and partnered with lescott he looks every bit the naive player he is with poor positional sense.

    Had it been Lescott banned for 4 games we may however saying how good he's played, thats the stregth and quality of Kompany.

  • Comment number 53.

    Burnley fan in peace. Firstly i feel sorry for Man City they were on the wrong end of Two apalling referee decisions last night the foul by Charilie Adam on the City player defo spot kick. The pen Liverpool got NEVER should have be given end off although they played pritty well i felt City were robbed and Liverpool reach yet another final on a dodgy refereeing call.

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't think Man City will win anything this season... they seem to be choking, or maybe they believe too much of their own hype and expect they will turnover every team they meet.

    I hate to say it but I believe the Premiership is Man Utd's to lose

  • Comment number 55.

    If we had to lose I'm glad it was Bellamy that made the difference...gutted he left! top top signing for Liverpool, easily their best player (Suarez not playing at the moment but even so...)

    Disappointed with the penalty and lack of penalty but over all don't think we deserved it anyway...well done to Liverpool!

    Refereeing decisions have done us again...perhaps the PL will dock us points if we look like winning the PL...maybe for wearing blue shorts or something! If we win anything this year no one could say it's not deserved as were having to do it the hard way.

  • Comment number 56.

    @4 Reds19

    The Carling Cup is the best tonic for the rest of the season when you win it.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not sure Birmingham fans will agree with you there. Different for the Scousers though I guess.......

  • Comment number 57.

    Just checkking in to see whether the mudslinging had already begun......oh wait.....it has.

    My prediction is liverpool bloggers will join in to WUM both the man utd and man city crowd.

  • Comment number 58.

    46.At 12:52 26th Jan 2012, insomnia75 wrote:
    "entertaining games and IMO the better team over 2 legs will be at wembley.

    i would like to ask poster soul-patch-of-david-villa if he could be so generous and explain us again his statement a few weeks ago that keeper Pantilimon and Savic are much more quality than Hart and Lescott..."

    No point in asking him about Joe Hart... Patches can never recall his name!

  • Comment number 59.

    #38, signori wrote:
    trying to get the ball with his hands

    .....................................................

    your embarassing yourself here with this attempt

    ==============================

    Can you imagine a shot aiming for goal and 2-3-4 defenders aiming to stop the ball with their arms all over the place?
    What this incident reminded me of was when Fabregas was part of the wall in Liverpool fouls, raising his arms (as extention to his body?). In one instance the referee let the game carry on. In the other instance he gave a penalty.

    What you don't do as a defender is have your arms like Mikah Richards had them. It's a surprise that you don't realise that, had Hart been where Richards was, his arms would probably be in the same position as Richards' and that's for goalkeepers and not for defenders.

    Then again, City didn't lose the match because of that incident. They lost it because they were not there mentally. The final score flatters them to be honest. And if something is embarrassing is blaming the referee while, only a few days earlier, it was wrong refereeing decisions that allowed City to finish the match with 11.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a Cardiff fan I am looking forward to the Liverpool game. Bellamy for us last season was class and always gave 100%. Real big game player too as scored some really important goals last season and no surprise that our poor run at the end of the season coincided with Bellamy's injuries.

    Amazing that he was let go for a free though!

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 34 with the arsenal v man utd penalty shout, the player (smalling I think) tucked his arms inside as opposed to richards who stuck the out.)

  • Comment number 62.

    48.At 12:52 26th Jan 2012, Reds19 wrote:
    I doubt that Manchester City are in any sort of crisis. The absense of Kompany identifies an area where they need reinforcements in defense, especially missing Kolo Toure as well as a cover. The only question mark is that this should be expected and Savic is not ready yet for the Premiership. He looks out of his depth.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Lescott and Kompany have formed an excellent partnership this year. Lescott has certainly been helped out by the assurance a partner like Kompany gives. He looked angry at times in the first half when he probably felt he was doing most of the defending. When you talk of reinforcements, who exactly could City have signed as centre back who would have been content to sit on the bench for them all season until Toure went to the ACON and just in case Kompany was suspended? Certainly no one who could have just seamlessly stepped into the role. Onuoha wasn't an option with his transfer to QPR imminent.

    People are suggesting that Lescott/Savic is a poor partnership which of course it is, but it will probably never feature again for City. So to talk of it within the context of a crisis as @23 does, is misleading.

  • Comment number 63.

    57.At 12:58 26th Jan 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    "Just checkking in to see whether the mudslinging had already begun......oh wait.....it has.

    My prediction is liverpool bloggers will join in to WUM both the man utd and man city crowd."

    Its always like this now.. The bbc blogs are effectively a dialed down replacement for 606. I want 606 back!
    Quite a "pickle" we're in here...

  • Comment number 64.

    61. At 13:00 26th Jan 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    Why are you arguing the penalty decisions? clearly a pen not given and clearly not a pen given...it's not up for debate surely? City didn't do enough to Win and congratulations for Liverpool but it's clear as day!

  • Comment number 65.

    58.At 12:58 26th Jan 2012, The_Forehead_Of_Gervinho wrote:
    _____________

    In fairness to patches, joe hart was doing his best "swingball" impression by repeatedly punching / parrying the ball out to the area. So for anyone calling him world class, I would say either the standard of goalkeeping has dropped considerably or they need to read the definition of "world class"

  • Comment number 66.

    49.At 12:52 26th Jan 2012, Jasperino wrote:
    I actually cancelled my Sky subscription immediately after the game because of this.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This didn't happen.

  • Comment number 67.

    I personally believe the penalty was, while very harsh, the right decision.

    The fact that it deflected off his leg into his arm doesn't really matter - the important factor in the decision was the angle at which he was holding his arm.

    His left arm was held parallel to his left leg, and his left leg was the leading leg in his slide along the floor. That means he lead with both his left leg and left arm and that suggests intent to use his whole body to block the ball.

    That intent is what counts, and that is what Dowd continually demonstrated to City players.

    And lets be honest here, if it had been at the other end and City had not been awarded it then Manccini would be making just as much noise.

    As for the penalty claim that City didn't get, Liverpool were very lucky as 9 times out of 10 it would be a penalty, but the question I ask is this: since it was completely 50/50 on who got the ball and who got the player, would Liverpool have received a free kick if Adam had got the ball instead? Highly unlikely - so why is it a penalty in reverse?

    @11 You're quoting Gerrard out of context. He said it was a dream getting to lead Liverpool out at Wembley. The fact that that game is the Carling Cup Final is completely irrelevant - it is about getting to Captain his boyhood team at the "home of Football".

  • Comment number 68.

    59.At 12:59 26th Jan 2012, Reds19 wrote:

    any thoughts on the penalty decision against Dzeko or lack there of it?? i imagine he should be booked for diving right??

    I play football on a regular vasis and when im going to block a ball i throw myself at it and my hands are up there because your rushing to get there. Im sorry but there isnt anyone in the world thinking if i block this and the ball goes higher then my arms will be there anyway, he didnt have his arms there as back up!

  • Comment number 69.

    43 I don't think City are in crisis at all. I just think their form has dropped off to a more realistic level. It was bound to happen for a few reasons, such as the fact they began the season totally buzzing and no team can sustain that level in a high quality league where the coaches and players quickly sus you out. Also there's the strength in depth question, and despite the hype it hasn't taken much at all to expose City's for what it is - Mancini apparently agrees, but then it's obvious anyway. They have terrific players, but the truth is that they only have a few exceptional ones, and of those (maybe only Hart, Aguero, Silva) none have any experience of title challenges - although it is a little early yet to judge, being as it's only just past halfway. Another factor has been the ridiculous hype, especially from their own supporters, about all of the above and about them supposedly having already become the top side in England despite not winning the league since 1968 - United, and latterly Spurs, have closed the gap on them (from 5pts) and United in particualr don't look likely to go away any time soon. One look at United's fixture list tells us that come March 4th if they are still within a couple of games of the top then they will have a great chance to win the league when the run-in starts in the spring. Mancini will know that as well as anyone. For now though I'd imagine he'll be more worried about Everton away and about what Porto might do to his side if they play like they did over two legs against the 1990 league champions.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    64.At 13:02 26th Jan 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:
    ____________

    I was merely clearing up the uninformed poster who tried to claim that arsenal had a similar claim on sunday. The two were nothing alike, and I think the only place that could have been given is at the nou camp.

  • Comment number 72.

    Phil, I don't know how you can say the experiment with 3-4-2-1 failed. At half-time we should have been 1-0 up as the penalty shouldn't have been. And maybe even 2-0 had we scored a penalty for a foul on Dzeko.

    But lets just say 1-0. How is that a failure?

    The system was changed because we had to go and score.

  • Comment number 73.

    54.At 12:57 26th Jan 2012, Lokacious wrote:
    =============================================================
    i believe you could be right, its difficult for a team of citys quality to say losing Yaya is enough to have their game change so much, he's not a messi or a Ronaldo, he's a very good player but city should be coping better without him.

    Ballotelli was missed, not for his football but for his antics, i love the man!!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    71. At 13:04 26th Jan 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    64.At 13:02 26th Jan 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:
    ____________

    I was merely clearing up the uninformed poster who tried to claim that arsenal had a similar claim on sunday. The two were nothing alike, and I think the only place that could have been given is at the nou camp.
    -------------

    haha thats probably about right!

  • Comment number 75.

    liverpool where lucky with the pen decision but they truly deserved the win yesterday. the thing about man city is atm it looks like everyone is against them. for example ive heard several people refer to card waving as something that mancini does, forgetting about rooney (& Europe)
    as for liverpool, if they win it will just merely cover up a lot of missing links. they have spent a lot of money and are way of the pace for champions league. i truly believe that dalglish is not in charge of half the signings they have made. Downing? Henderson? Carol? really dont think hes behind those signings.

  • Comment number 76.

    He played well. Against Savic.

  • Comment number 77.

    I expect the final to be a rubbish game finished by penalties where Reina saves the day for Liverpool. Basically a repeat of the 2001 final haha

  • Comment number 78.

    73. At 13:05 26th Jan 2012, King Red wrote:

    Balotelli for PM!

  • Comment number 79.

    65.At 13:02 26th Jan 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    _______________


    I certainly think he's the best in the country... nobody else really compares to him. (Apart from Michael Vorm obviously..)
    I think the criteria for selecting an england goalkeeper is based on "howlers" though. And Mr Hart doesn't really seem to have any of those. He does have an ability to pull of phenomenal saves though. Desperatly trying not to use the phrase world class here...

  • Comment number 80.

    My two cents (for what it's worth)....

    Probably shouldn't have been a pen, but like with two footed tackles, if you raise your hands then you run the risk of a foul / penalty being given, so don't do it.

    Don't think it would have mattered, liverpool looked like the better side throughout, and I think would have reduced the deficit had they not had the penalty.

    Savic was awful again.

  • Comment number 81.

    49 what nonsense. the natural position for balance would've been one arm stretched out to one side and the other out to the other side.

  • Comment number 82.

    A fine performance by Liverpool, although to say "if not for the performance of Joe Hart ...". Joe hart is there to do a job and he done it very well.

    As an Evertonian I am a little jealous - I would be very pleased for Everton to make the League Cup Final, despite the generally accepted view that it's now a third rate competition.

    And a reluctant congratulations to Liverpool for showing that the Big Four can be beaten by us mid-table teams in the race for glory (and obviously I'm using the word "glory" in its broadest possible sense).

  • Comment number 83.

    Very happy as a Liverpool fan.
    I do feel we were lucky with the penalty decisons as another day both could have gone the other way way and Liverpool would have lost 3-2 on aggregate,.

    A few UTD fans on here mocking Liverpool for getting to the final its a great springboard to boost the moral of the whole club. I do think that if Arsenal had won in the final last year they season would have ended a lot differently for them.

    We do seem to have struggled recently in the finals when we have been the clear favourites but hopefully Kenny's experience can get them through.

  • Comment number 84.

    As a complete neutral some things that struck me over the course of the two games.

    1. Dzeko, Nasri and Savic are not of sufficeint quality and all three look short on confidence. Nasri looked like a purchase to just stop Utd signing him, Johnson must sit on the bench and wonder what he needs to do to get a start.

    2. Liverpool as good as they were last night still look short at the back and recent signings Adam, Downing, Henderson and Carroll wouldn't get a game at any of the current top 4.

    3. 6th place and a Carling cup win is the best Liverpool can hope for this season and unless they address the quality of the squad the prospects don't look any better for next season either.
    Mystifying selections (6 defenders on the pitch in the first leg), defeats at Bolton, Anfiled becoming nailed on for an away point and King Kenny's shameful backing of Saurez should not be forgotten by the Kop faithful....
    Potentially winning the 4th most important trophy that the top sides play for and a day out at Wembley shouldn't hide the fact that Liverpool are as far away as they have ever been from picking up the legue title.
    But who on erath would question King Kenny? certainly not the Liverpool fans!

    4. It was never a penalty last night - another in a series of shocking descisions that seem to be being made every week. Ref's need more help (in some cases) or just need to get it right (like last night) 6 yards away and the ref couldn't see the ball come off Richards' foot? then he's in the wrong job.

    5. ...and at the other end it was a nailed on penalty...in front of the Kop though? never going to get a descision.


    In conclusion, with Utd breathing down City's neck and Spurs not out of it then IF city win the league then it will certainly be hard earned and well deserved. In any case City look equipped to challenge for honours on a few fronts for a good few years to come.

    Liverpool on the other hand are still in the same "period of transition" they have been in since the premier legue started. A potential Carling cup win looks like a springboard for more mediocraty.

    Cue a summer of "we can challenge for the league" then a dose of reality after 10 games next season when the best they can hope for is more domestic scraps and a ropey league place.

    Keep telling yourselves Kenny knows what he is doing but with City's and Spurs emergence simply waiting for Ferguson to retire at Utd won't gaurantee a league title anytime soon...

  • Comment number 85.

    79.At 13:06 26th Jan 2012, The_Forehead_Of_Gervinho wrote:
    _______________

    Maybe there's just no decent keepers about anymore!!! Hart is a good shotstopper, but there was a few times (like in the CL games) where he made a save or a punch and the ball sprayed into the 6 yard box and caused a panic. If an opposing player was nearer or quicker to the ball it would have resulted in a goal.

  • Comment number 86.

    #56. AJM1982,

    The thing with Birmingham is they had players missing and winning was the pinnacle of their season. With players missing and having won a cup unexpectedly they ended the season flat.

    To me, it's a totally different proposition for Liverpool. If the win the Carling Cup, as expected (no offense to Cardiff) they still have valid reasons for targetting a top four position. With a cup won after 16(?) years and having to play both(?) Chelsea and Arsenal at home, they have more of an outside chance, if they manage to find consistency.

  • Comment number 87.

    Good article but my pedantic nature insists:
    "If this was effectively a free present from City to Liverpool,..."
    Phil, if it ain't free it ain't really a present.
    No-one doubts Craig Bellamy's talent or work rate. It's just 18 months later he's had another falling out and he's gone...It's as if his talent makes the whole less than the sum of its parts.

  • Comment number 88.

    Wow, I didn't know that ManC were a team that are lead from the back, goes to show you can only really know a team when injuries and other issues hit some players.

    Still, it's funny seeing how fans of one performing side will literally pull out all the stops to play down the success of a rival performing side, *wink.

    Live with it, it was always going to be the case the EPL would eventually have the 2 Mancunians on top =]

    True that Liverpool should have higher expectations, but that's the same thing being said for Sunderland. And when I last checked, winning a trophy > not winning a trophy. Just ask Real Madrid.

  • Comment number 89.

    4.
    At 12:01 26th Jan 2012, Reds19 wrote:

    The Carling Cup is the best tonic for the rest of the season when you win it.
    _______________________________________________________________

    Really? Don't know if Birmingham would agree!

  • Comment number 90.

    #68. At 13:03 26th Jan 2012, signori,

    Yes, to me Dzeko should have won a penalty.
    It was unfortunate for City there.

  • Comment number 91.

    My god Phil. Again?! Seriously?!

    Yes you're right. Bellamy didn't do it in his first spell at Liverpool. Yes you're right, he had something to prove against his old club...........................guess what, every single football fan in the country was thinking this stuff BEFORE the game.

    State the obvious Phil strikes again. How does he do it?

  • Comment number 92.

    What I fail to understand is that people are slating Edin Dzeko for "not being good enough". Yet the man has still managed to bag a good 15 or 16 goals this season! Are these the same people who say that Suarez is a quality player? Even though he's scored 5 goals this season?

  • Comment number 93.

    #79~ Go on say it..SAY IT!! Hart IS a world class keeper!

    I reckon Liverpool fans will of course be happy in February to win the cup final if they do, but come May, that will be forgotten if they finish outside the top 4. i am speaking from experience as a Gooner, that's how I would feel if I was honest!

  • Comment number 94.

    79. At 13:06 26th Jan 2012, The_Forehead_Of_Gervinho wrote:

    I think the criteria for selecting an england goalkeeper is based on "howlers" though. And Mr Hart doesn't really seem to have any of those. He does have an ability to pull of phenomenal saves though. Desperatly trying not to use the phrase world class here...
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't know who this ''Hart'' guy is, so I'll have to look out for him and watch him play sometime.

    In terms of howlers, the most error-prone keeper in the EPL is that blonde-haired no. 25 who plays for Manchester City (and, perplexingly, appears to be the first-choice for the English national team). I can't remember his name off the top of my head, but if he's not letting a tame shot trickle in at his near post, he's palming a tame shot into the path of an onrushing attacker.

    A truly comic-book custodian!

  • Comment number 95.

    67 I agree with you on both those points, although the other thing that has to be taken into account is that the Dzeko one was at the Kop end. These clashes happen all over the pitch all the time though and are usually NOT given as FKs.

  • Comment number 96.

    Bellamy might be a reasonable player but he's a nasty little ****. People go on about Balotelli. Nasri is weak and cannot help to defend. I really don't think City were up for it. They want the league title off United, that's all that matters. They do need another striker though. Balotelli is brilliant but mad and Dzeko has a poor touch too often. City will need to buy to compete in the CL next season.
    It wasn't a penalty but it is irrelevant.

  • Comment number 97.

    Oh and speaking of spanish football. Before patches comes in with his "english plodders, lost the game, dzeko classy pro, that blonde haired keeper I can't remember the name of, the football was akin to watching the Royal Oak on a saturday".....

    CD Mirandes of the Segunda Division Group 2 made it into the semi finals of the Copa Del Rey. So Spain's equivalent of a pub team actually made it into the semi finals of their premier cup competition. That says it all.

  • Comment number 98.

    85.At 13:08 26th Jan 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    ________

    Don't worry I agree with you! I think that english football is in decline. And the general standard is falling... Joe Hart definitely seems like a silver lining though. Hopefully he'll show this at EURO 2012. And hopefully players like Fwank Laaaaaampard dont even get considered.

  • Comment number 99.

    33.
    At 12:40 26th Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:


    City's form now over the past 16 games reads W8 D3 L5. And one of those wins was meaningless against Bayern's shadow team, another was very very fortunate against Spurs the other day, and the Arsenal 1-0 was a travesty. They did well to beat bottom team Wigan with a set piece, I suppose, but the barnstorming hype monster of the first few months of the season seems to have left early, replaced by a stuttering mish mash, over-reliant on Silva, too easily exposed at the back and lacking tactical and personal discipline, apparently stemming from the management.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Utter garbage, like always. New you would come on and defend the penalty, like lambasting Suarez or defending the Kompany sending off, I wonder why?

    We have beaten Arsenal and Spurs in the league with influential players missing. You lads lost to Blackburn at home and were mudered by Newcastle. Losing to Liverpool in the Carling Cup and UTD via a biased Ref is not a great measure of failure.

    Come for a pint Noel, I'm awaiting.

  • Comment number 100.

    72 Liverpool played City off the park for most of the first half, so yes, it's safe to say - bearing in mind that Liverpool aren't exactly at the peak of their powers this season at home - that either the system failed, or more likely City just did't have enough quality on the pitch either technically or tactically to use that concept.

 

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