Guardian: Why players will not be in right state of mind for FA Cup final | Sol Campbell

League games in the week leading up to the final have disrupted the preparations for this special eventWhatever the circumstances and whatever the reasons may be, it is a real shame that this year’s FA Cup final is once again not being played at the correct time. It should always be the season’s finale, the curtain-closer to the campaign, and by moving it to the weekend before the Premier League finishes, the authorities have devalued a special event.The FA Cup holds a lot of memories for people, it is a competition that lives in their hearts and, as such, its traditions should be respected. The constant changing of its scheduling, which tomorrow will also see the game kick off at the more “viewer-friendly” time of 5.15pm as opposed to 3pm, just proves that big business has taken over football and how it is run.There are practical elements to this too – preparing for an FA Cup final is hard, you need a clear week to focus and get properly ready. Yet Chelsea and Liverpool had games in midweek which took a lot out of them, especially as both lost, so neither group of players are going into Saturday’s game in the right frame of mind or body. Both teams rested players to ensure they were fresh for the final, which in Chelsea’s case contributed to them losing to Newcastle and, as such, almost certainly ruined their hopes of finishing in the top four.Playing the final on this Saturday has also taken some sheen off the game. Don’t get me wrong, Chelsea versus Liverpool at Wembley in an FA Cup final has sparkle, but it is taking place on the same weekend that the two Manchester clubs are playing in huge, title-deciding league matches, and arguably Manchester City’s match at Newcastle on Sunday is the biggest of the weekend given the quality of both sides and what’s at stake. So to play the Cup final now is bizarre. The fabric of the game is being stripped away and in 10 years’ time we may not recognise it at all.My first FA Cup final memory was of watching Norman Whiteside score the winning goal for Manchester United against Everton in 1985. Like most kids of my generation I was glued to my television, and even now I can still remember the goal – Whiteside running in from the right-hand side and curling the ball in with his left foot. It was a great strike. I was fortunate to play in three finals myself – in 2002 and 2005 for Arsenal and in 2008 for Portsmouth. Sadly I missed out on Arsenal’s final with Southampton in 2003 because of suspension but given the other three all ended in victory – and that I still got a medal in 2003 – I have fantastic memories of the occasion.Of the three wins 2002, against Chelsea, was definitely the best. It came at the end of my first season with Arsenal, one in which I was under huge pressure given the circumstances of my move from Tottenham. To keep my dignity in such circumstances as well as play top football and win the double was an incredible achievement. For me it showed what I was all about as a man and as a footballer.The win in 2008 was also special, but in another way. My biggest memory of that whole FA Cup campaign was of seeing a quarter of a million people come out in Portsmouth to see us parade the trophy through the city. A quarter of a million; it was staggering to see that many people together and proved just how much the FA Cup means to supporters in this country.The finals themselves can be tight affairs, which is understandable given what’s at stake. I always remember Martin Keown saying to me: “Let the game come to you, don’t go chasing the game.” It was vital not to get swept up by the occasion. Enjoy it, but stay focused on the task ahead, on what your job is on the day. If you get overwhelmed by it all then it’s likely that before long you won’t know whether to go left or right, forward or back. The game will simply pass you by.Saturday’s final is hard to call – both teams have been cup teams this season and so something has to break. They both lost in midweek and neither is playing out of this world, so it’s likely to be a tight match which will probably be decided by a bit of luck. I think Chelsea will sneak it, possibly on penalties. Will I be watching? Of course, it’s the FA Cup final. I wouldn’t miss it.Sol Campbell has donated his fee for this column to his foundation Kids Go Live, http://www.kidsgolive.comFA Cup 2011-12ChelseaLiverpoolFA CupSol 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: John W Henry and FSG enjoy the goodwill of Liverpool’s supporters – for now | David Conn

After the optimism of the takeover has come a disappointing league season and the unanswered question of a new groundLiverpool’s principal owner, John WHenry, and their chairman, Tom Werner, will be at the FA Cup final for their club’s third Wembley visit this season, a rare appearance by the American baseball men to watch a Liverpool game. They did see the Carling Cup Final, after which they went on the pitch to hold the cup, and Henry memorably marvelled at Liverpool’s win on penalties after, he said, “overtime”.Before they bought one of England’s greatest clubs from Tom Hicks and George Gillett in October 2010, captivated by the commercial potential of a global fanbase, Henry and his Fenway Sports Group knew nothing about football, Werner told the Guardian. Henry, an investment fund banker and lifelong baseball lover, said his lifestyle, of attending almost all 162 matches FSG’s Boston Red Sox play, meant he would rarely come to Liverpool. The media in Boston, where the Red Sox had endured a dire end to the 2011 season, then lost their coach and general manager, are sensitive to Henry being seen to spend too much time onLiverpool.Any FA Cup final must be savoured, and the Carling Cup too, but many Liverpool supporters will spend their journey south grumbling, chewing over a disappointing league season after the optimism of FSG’s takeover and their appointment of Kenny Dalglish as manager in January 2011. After spending £131m on players, Liverpool are eighth in the Premier League, three points below their neighbours Everton. This was also the season when many people across football, and politicians including Liverpool MPs, were aghast at the club’s handling of the Luis Suárez racial abusecase. Many believe the bunker stance, denial of the FA’s finding of guilt and Liverpool’s claim, still not retracted, that Manchester United’s Patrice Evra made a false allegation, tarnished the dignified “Liverpool Way” image the club spent decades cultivating.So far the American owners’ remoteness has played in their favour. There is still goodwill from fans, that FSG supplanted Hicks and Gillett and as the price of buying the club paid off the £200m the previous American pair borrowed to buy it in 2007. Somehow all that has not gone right under FSG, the exceedingly high prices paid for Andy Carroll and other players, and the mishandling of the Suárez debacle, has been viewed as if the owners were let down by those on the scene in Liverpool.They are, though, considered responsible for questions over Liverpool’s future, whether a new stadium on Stanley Park or an enlarged Anfield, will ever happen, but as their delay is 18 months, in 15 years of stagnation, they are cut some slack on that, too.Yet it is fanciful to believe that Henry, Werner and FSG have not been centrally involved in the running of the club this season. They are responsible for the fateful decision not to bank the extraordinary £50m windfall from selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea in January 2011, and spend it wisely in the summer. Instead, Damien Comolli, whom they appointed director of football on the recommendation of Billy Beane, a baseball coach, was dispatched to sign Carroll immediately for Dalglish. The idea that Comolli was individually responsible for overpaying is mistaken; Newcastle’s managing director, Derek Llambias, said they were never going to sell for less. Henry explained afterwards that as the Torres price went up, they were happy for the Carroll fee to climb, ultimately to £35m, which now looks a blithe approach to precious millions.Once Liverpool paid that, they were going to pay £20m for Stewart Downing, £16m for Jordan Henderson and £9m for Charlie Adam, although such prices are the going rate now, anyway, for upper-rank British Premier League players. It is a biting paradox that FSG, the owners from baseball famed for their appreciation of Beane and his “Moneyball” approach – shrewd, statistics-based scouting of good value performers – splurged massively on Dalglish’s fairly obvious wanted list. It was Newcastle who held on till the summer, then did the Moneyball thing, signing Papis Cisse, Davide Santon, Demba Ba and other wisely-scouted players, who have woven Newcastle to Champions League contention.Comolli was fired on Werner’s last visit to Liverpool last month, but it is not clear if they are going to persevere with a director of football, and, if so, how they are looking for a replacement.Ian Ayre, who had no topmost executive experience before FSG appointed him managing director, said this week they are still considering which stadium option to take, but both are beset by obstacles. Expanding Anfield would involve buying and demolishing the houses of neighbours who may not agree to move, and depriving others of their “right to light”, which is protected by English law. Ayre has repeatedly said they must find a naming rights partner to pay towards a new stadium, but there is no news about whether such a deal looks possible.That stance makes it clear, however, that FSG are not intending to invest their own money in a new stadium. Henry has stated his support for Uefa’s Financial Fair Play principle, that clubs should break even, but Uefa’s rules do allow owners to spend unlimited amounts of their own money on stadiums. The accounts for 2010-11, though, published , signal a limit to FSG’s financial commitment: they lent Liverpool £30.2m interest free, but then arranged for £120m borrowing facilities with banks, to provide futurefinance.One glaringly obvious stadium option, which they will not consider, suggests a reluctance to risk tough positions that could make them unpopular. The world outside Anfield can see a shared stadium with Everton, across the park and also wanting to expand, is a potential solution. Henry and Werner must know it would help financially, adding whatever Everton can invest, and doing a deal. Yet Liverpool fans are largely hostile to the idea, and would take persuading that an argument about the Anfield rent in 1892need not last a whole history if it helps restore a pre-eminent place in modern football.Instead, Werner ruled it out soon after they took over, and Liverpool are not much further with a stadium solution than they were 18 months ago. Residents in the appallingly run-down neighbourhood around Anfield have found their patience thinning again.Liverpool supporters have some patience still; they know the club was leaden with debt under Hicks and Gillett. But the new owners, trying to run a great English football club with a five-hour US-UK time difference, need to show more coherence soon, before patience on the Kop begins to fray.John W HenryFA Cup 2011-12FA CupNew England Sports VenturesLiverpoolDavid 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Stewart Downing: Don’t blame Liverpool’s new boys, we’re a team

Liverpool winger says rebuilding at Anfield is not an overnight process and will take timeStewart Downing readily concedes he is not the most vocal presence in the Liverpool dressing room but insists: “If I have something to say, I say it.” The allegation that he and his fellow expensive recruits of 2011 are culpable for the club’s aimless league campaign finds the 27-year-old at his most verbose.Wembley has become routine at club level since the England international joined Liverpool for £20m last summer although, in keeping with the tale of two campaigns at Anfield, so has criticism of what Fenway Sports Group has got for their money. As the owners’ decision to sack Damien Comolli as the director of football 48 hours before the FA Cup semi-final defeat of Everton testified, the blame is not attributed purely by a voracious media or frustrated support. But it can be too simplistic. Liverpool delivered their worst performance of an already depressing home campaign in losing to Fulham at Anfield for the first time in the club’s history on Tuesday. Only four of the starting lineup were signed last year and one, the reserve goalkeeper Alexander Doni, was the undisputed man of the match from a red perspective.Downing says: “It’s someone’s opinion [that new players haven’t delivered]. Others might take it hard, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s easy to look at the table and think just because it’s not gone well in the league that it’s the new players’ fault. But that happens at every club. There are more than four or five players in a squad and we have all not done it, not just the new ones. It’s as a team. Sometimes the new ones haven’t played and we have lost games. It’s a building process, it takes time, it’s not overnight.”There are seven or eight new players in the team and that’s quite a lot. You’re expected to come in and set the world alight but sometimes it doesn’t happen. But there are positives. We are building a good team. To win the Carling Cup in the first season and potentially the FA Cup as well would be a great start.”The FA Cup final against Chelsea will be Downing’s third visit to Wembley with Liverpool in four months, the highlights of a campaign in which he believes his own contribution mirrors that of the collective. “A bit up and down,” he claims. “Some good, some indifferent. It has been for all of us. The league has been strange this season. Performance-wise it is there but killing off teams has not been. If we had finished teams off like we should have done we’d probably be second or third.”Downing has admitted previously being taken aback by the level of expectation at Anfield compared with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, his previous clubs, but the adjustment has not been made entirely in the mind. The winger was player of the year at Villa last season, an award reflecting his input of nine assists and eight goals. He is yet to open his account on either score in the league for Liverpool, a reflection of his misfortune in hitting the woodwork several times but also his struggle to impose himself in Kenny Dalglish’s team.”It was a more settled side at Villa, I’ll give you that,” he accepts. “I was on the right, Ashley [Young] was on the left and Darren [Bent] was down the middle, but we didn’t have a huge squad. It’s good when you’re playing regularly and getting continuity, but you have to get used to that. This is a bigger club, with a lot more players of quality and if you are not playing well you can be replaced easily, whereas at Villa and Boro, no disrespect, it was more settled teams because the squads were smaller. It’s nice to play regularly but I’m not the manager, I don’t pick the team.”Downing appeared a natural fit for a Liverpool attack led by Andy Carroll at the start of the season yet that production line has not developed. On several occasions when Dalglish has been searching for a breakthrough he has introduced one at the expense of the other. “The manager wants to give everyone playing time and keep everyone on their toes. You’ll have to ask him about that,” is Downing’s diplomatic reply.Despite a staunch defence of Liverpool’s new recruits, his faith in the direction of this team and a man of the match performance in the Carling Cup final win over Cardiff City, Downing accepts there remains a need to repay Dalglish for the trust he has maintained in the squad. “He paid a lot to get me here and worked hard to get me here,” admits Downing. “I have massive respect for Kenny for that. Every time you play you want to do your best for him. You see how much he wants to win for this club but I think the owners see it as a bigger picture, not just an overnight success. They might not be happy with the league form but they can see we’ve won a cup and got a chance of another. It’s a building process and might take a couple of years to get where we want to be.”In the meantime it is Chelsea, and a score that Downing has waited 15 years to settle. He explains: “The first time I went to Wembley was as a schoolboy with Middlesbrough for the 1997 final. Boro were massive underdogs and we all remember Di Matteo’s goal going in off the bar so early. I’ve hated him ever since!”LiverpoolFA CupFA Cup 2011-12Andy 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Wembley cup double a spur for Liverpool, says Steven Gerrard

• FA Cup final win would make up for league slump• Captain Gerrard aware of threat from ChelseaSteven Gerrard believes judgment should be reserved on Liverpool’s season until after Saturday’s FA Cup final but insisted a domestic cup double would compensate for major underachievement in the Premier League.Fulham’s first league win at Anfield on Tuesday means Kenny Dalglish’s team will equal the club’s worst home campaign of only five victories – set in 1948-49 – should they fail to beat Chelsea in their penultimate game of the season next Tuesday. Before that rearranged fixture, of course, is the Wembley date between the two clubs and the Liverpool captain accepts the outcome of the FA Cup final will determine the success or otherwise of Dalglish’s first full season back in charge.”This club is all about winning trophies, big trophies, and the FA Cup comes under that,” Gerrard said. “We will assess the season after the weekend. If we can look back and say we have won two cups, then we will be happy. But we need to address the problem of our league position.”Silverware is success. That’s why we play the game. Some of the biggest experiences we have had over the years is from winning cups – the European Cup, the FA Cup, the Uefa Cup, the Carling Cup. Those are the nights and days that you look back on with fond memories. The FA Cup is special, but we got a taste of success from winning the Carling Cup. That will help the younger players in the squad. Winning breeds confidence and you want more.”Liverpool have dropped 30 points at Anfield this season and are also four goals short of the club’s lowest tally, the 24 set in 1903-04. Gerrard, who lifted the Carling Cup in February, added: “We are all aware we have underachieved in the league and the squad of players is certainly better than where we are. We will assess the season and if we win two trophies I think it would alleviate the pressure slightly. People will judge us after Saturday. People will say: ‘You haven’t done well in the league,’ but we can say: ‘Yes, but we have won two cups.’ I think that’s a fair argument.”Gerrard was among several Liverpool players rested against Fulham in readiness for Wembley and, although the midfielder claims the final is too close to call, he believes Chelsea’s focus on three targets – finishing fourth, the FA Cup and the Champions League final – could count against Roberto Di Matteo’s team.The England international said: “Chelsea are an experienced team full of quality players and it will boil down to the small details and who gets the big decisions or stroke of luck in their favour. There’s not much between the sides. It’s a 50-50 game. It’s a one-off. I’m sure none of the Chelsea players will be thinking about the Champions League or the top four once the game kicks off on Saturday. But if anything, their situation helps us slightly. We can’t do anything in the league and have nothing else going on, so we can solely focus on this game.”LiverpoolFA Cup 2011-12FA CupAndy 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Kenny Dalglish accuses FA of disrespecting fans with Cup final plan

• Liverpool and Chelsea get only 25,000 tickets each• Late kick-off time brings travel difficulties for Liverpool fansKenny Dalglish has accused the Football Association of lacking respect for supporters of all clubs with its decision to start the FA Cup final at 5.15pm and to allocate tickets for only 55% of Wembley’s capacity to the finalists on 5 May.Liverpool and Chelsea will each receive around 25,000 tickets for this season’s FA Cup final, 7,000 fewer than for the semi-finals. Almost 40,000 tickets are reserved for Club Wembley members plus the wider football community – those involved at grassroots level and the 763 clubs who entered the competition. Controversy over the ticket allocation may be customary but, due to the late kick-off and engineering work on the rail network, Liverpool supporters have the added complication of being unable to catch a direct train back to Merseyside after the final.Liverpool officials are writing to Virgin Rail and Network Rail asking them to postpone engineering work they claim will cause “enormous disruption to fans”. Dalglish, however, believes responsibility for the logistical problems surrounding the final lies firmly with the FA.The Liverpool manager, who has been involved in several disputes with the FA this season, notably over the Luis Suárez affair, said: “For me – and it’s not just about fans of this club but every fan – I think they should be given a bit more respect. They’ve rebuilt Wembley but I don’t think 25,000 is any greater number of tickets than what it was when I was playing. That’s for the FA to answer. The fans should be given more respect and taken into consideration more. There’s a lot of things to be taken into consideration for a kick-off time – the police, the television – but the fans seem to be the ones who come third. As a fan I would be disappointed.”The Southport MP John Pugh has claimed in a letter to Sir Richard Branson, the chairman of Virgin Group, that Network Rail has refused to cancel engineering works that had been planned for 18 months as “one compounding factor is their fear of incurring financial losses through complicating Virgin Rail schedules and plans”. Pugh also warns that fans are “not only seriously inconvenienced but put at risk through the difficulty of constructing a workable set of arrangements”.Dalglish said: “I won’t support anyone other than the fans. It would be better if they were given greater consideration when the FA are looking at the kick-off time. I don’t think anyone’s got a voice for them and, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be such a special occasion if the fans are not there, would it? Sometimes the problem comes when fans are taken for granted. I don’t mean just the fans at this club but fans everywhere. If people have a complaint I’d advise them to complain to the relevant authorities. It hasn’t been made easy for them by any means but I’m sure they will get there.”The Liverpool manager, meanwhile, believes his predecessor, Roy Hodgson, will receive a “warm reception” when he returns to Anfield with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday for the first time since being sacked 15 months ago.”It will be good to see Roy and to see him back at Anfield again,” said Dalglish. “I’m sure he’ll get a warm reception from the supporters. He is a man with real integrity and dignity. He tried his best for this football club and I’m sure the supporters will respect that. As a person I respect him tremendously. He’s done very well at West Brom. He is a good coach and a good manager and has good experience behind him. He did well last year to keep West Brom up and he kept them up easily this season.”LiverpoolKenny DalglishThe FAFA Cup 2011-12FA CupChelseaAndy 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Phil Dowd to referee FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea

• Dowd to take charge of FA Cup final for first time in career• ‘Watching the final as a boy was something I loved to do’Phil Dowd has been appointed as the referee for the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool. The 49-year-old will take charge of the Wembley showpiece for the first time in his career on 5 May.The former miner from Staffordshire was also the man in the middle for this season’s Community Shield, as well as the 2010 Carling Cup final. Dowd, who has been refereeing for 28 years, said: “I was honoured and privileged when I found out.”You obviously hope as a referee that you might one day be considered for the FA Cup final, so it will certainly be the highlight of my career so far. I would never have thought in my wildest dreams that when I first started refereeing that one day I’d be refereeing the FA Cup final. Watching the final as a boy was something I always loved to do.”The married father of four will also spare a thought on cup final day for his own father, who passed away three years ago. “It was always an ambition of his to see me referee the FA Cup final, so I’ll have a special thought for him on the day,” he said.Dowd will be assisted by Stuart Burt and Andrew Garratt, along with fourth official Michael Jones and reserve assistant referee Simon Long.FA CupFA Cup 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Liverpool fans face huge disruption travelling to London for Cup final

• Virgin Trains has cancelled majority of direct services• Network Rail confirms engineering works will go aheadLiverpool supporters face major travel difficulties for next month’s FA Cup final after Virgin Trains cancelled the majority of its direct services between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston on 5 May.Engineering works outside the city, and between Crewe and Warrington, mean only three trains will run to London from Liverpool on Cup final day, each departing before 8am. Kick-off against Chelsea is at 5.15pm and supporters will be unable to return to Liverpool by train after the game.Thousands of Everton and Liverpool fans queued at Lime Street from before 6am on Saturday to get trains for a 12.30pm FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and the latter will again be inconvenienced for the final. Services from Warrington Bank Quay have also been postponed because of the engineering works and supporters will have to catch a replacement bus service to Crewe, or depart from Manchester or Chester, to travel to the capital by train. Chartered supporter trains are available but must also leave Lime Street before 8am.Despite the inevitable chaos on the bank holiday weekend Network Rail has confirmed the engineering works will go ahead as planned. A spokesperson for the company said: “Improvement works on the railway are planned around 18 months in advance, ahead of any scheduling of sporting events and knowing which teams will compete in the final. Fewer people travel on the network at weekends and so essential works are planned for when they will be least disruptive.”Unfortunately on this occasion, with the FA Cup final earlier in the month than usual and with the FA choosing a later kick-off time, it has resulted in Liverpool fans unable to return by train. Delaying the works to improve the line would mean further delays to more passengers at a later date.”Virgin is considering increasing capacity on its London-bound trains on 5 May but has warned of severe disruption for those trying to return to Liverpool the day after the Cup final. A “restrictive” service will be operating for trains due to leave Euston on 6 May as a result of engineering works in Milton Keynes and Liverpool-bound trains will instead depart from Rugby, almost 80 miles away. Passengers have been advised to travel on the east coast line to Sheffield, Doncaster or York before taking a cross-Pennine service or take a five-hour journey involving five trains.Liverpool will play Chelsea twice in four days as a result of the clubs’ progress to the FA Cup final. Fernando Torres and company were due at Anfield on Sunday 6 May for Liverpool’s final home game of the season but the Premier League match has been rearranged for Tuesday 8 May, with an 8pm kick off.LiverpoolFA Cup 2011-12FA CupVirgin RailRail transportTransportAndy 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Liverpool’s chairman Tom Werner hints at attending FA Cup final

• Werner and John W Henry missed semi to watch Red Sox• ‘Wembley will be a lovely place to visit in May’Liverpool’s chairman Tom Werner has hinted he will probably be at Wembley for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on 5 May.Werner and the principal owner John W Henry were in England last week to oversee the departures of the director of football Damien Comolli and the head of sports science Dr Peter Brukner, but they missed Saturday’s semi-final against Everton as they went back to the US to attend the Boston Red Sox’s first home game of the season.Werner told “The team showed a lot of character and we dominated the second half. [Luis] Suárez and [Andy] Carroll’s goals were both brilliant, and Wembley will be a lovely place to visit in May.”LiverpoolFA Cup 2011-12FA CupNew England Sports 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Liverpool strive for unity after Distin takes lonely walk for Everton

• If it is me getting dog’s abuse then good, says Kenny Dalglish• Sylvain Distin: I cost Everton a place in the FA Cup finalIt was 1986 and 1989 revisited for Kenny Dalglish, only this time without the cup and commendations for a Liverpool team at the summit of the English game. Seven weeks earlier, in the same room at Wembley, having again watched his team come from behind to win, the Liverpool manager proclaimed the Carling Cup a springboard for greater success. Following victory over Everton in the FACup semi-final, he simply issued an appeal for patience.Liverpool’s first trophy for six years was accompanied by their worst league run in 59 and Dalglish has been left in no doubt by Fenway Sports Group, the club’s owner, that improvement is essential after its substantial investment. A cup double in his first full season back as manager would represent a fine riposte even though, sadly, Champions League money carries more weight with American owners than medals.Conscious of the misery of his Merseyside rivals, of the fact the final is yet to come and arguably chastened by the timing of Damien Comolli’s sacking as director of football, Dalglish kept his delight in check on Saturday. But it was there, desperate to be released from a body that metronomically rocked against the wall of the Wembley press room as he held court.”There are no scapegoats for anything that has gone wrong,” he said. “There is only a vision on how we are going to go forward. To go forward and be successful, sometimes you need to get battered along the way. We have got to be strong enough to stand up to that. If it’s me who is getting dog’s abuse then good, because it takes the pressure off the players. I have been there before and I suppose I will be there again at some stage.”I have never said at any given time that we are the finished article and we still won’t say that right now. But what we will do is that every bit of knowledge we have got and every bit of commitment will all go into getting the football club moving in the right direction.”I think this football club is a fantastic example to anyone else who wants to have a football club. When there is a wee bit of mud flying about, we stick together for each other. That’s the football club that I used to know and it’s the football club I am getting back to knowing.”Noone rewarded the manager’s faith better than Andy Carroll. His £35m transfer fee is glaring evidence of Comolli’s poor negotiating skills but he led the line impressively and despite some abject finishing, never shirked responsibility before glancing Craig Bellamy’s free-kick beyond Tim Howard with three minutes remaining. Dalglish declined an invitation to declare that the trust he has placed in his signings had been vindicated. “It’s not vindicated in one game and we are not going to be judged on one game either,” he added.Restraint was justified. Everton led at half time after a horrendous mix-up between Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger, plus a clearance by the former, allowed Nikica Jelavic to score his sixth goal in eight starts, beneath Brad Jones.David Moyes’s side arrived as the team in form and gained a measure of control in the first half without seriously testing Liverpool’s third-choice goalkeeper. Butthey had weathered Liverpool’s inevitably determined start to the second half when Sylvain Distin’s woeful back-pass enabled Luis Suárez to equalise and from there on, with the Uruguayan driving Everton’s central defence to distraction, Dalglish’s side were comfortable. They should have been out of sight before theback of Carroll’s head applied the finishing touch.Distin took a long and lonely walk around the Everton end to offer his apologies after the final whistle and later tweeted: “I cost my team-mates, the staff, the club and the fans a place in FA Cup final. Nothing more to say but sorry all of you.” He could also have legitimately asked where his team-mates, Jelavic apart, disappeared to after half-time.Liverpool, no matter how indifferent a team, believe in victory on such occasions. Everton, regardless of their own form, donot. They have not won a Merseyside derby in which Liverpool have equalised since 1931, a damning sequence of 21 games. Carragher said: “It is something in Liverpool’s DNA. Not all clubs have got it. We have. Manchester United have got it too. Finding a way to win at bigmoments.”The occasion was superior to the match and after the city’s two tribes had mingled impeccably, the day was encapsulated by Everton’s return to Merseyside. They stopped outside Anfield to lay a wreath carrying the club’s crest and “96” at the eternal flame to the victims of Hillsborough.FA Cup 2011-12LiverpoolEvertonFA CupAndy 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Guardian: Royston Drenthe told to stay away by Everton after discipline breach

• Real Madrid loanee ruins chance of permanent move• David Moyes here for long term, claims captain Phil NevilleRoyston Drenthe has ruined his prospects of securing a permanent move to Everton after being omitted from the club’s FACup semi-final squad by David Moyes for another breach of discipline.The Dutch winger reported late for training last week and was immediately sent home and told to stay away from the club by the Everton manager. It is not the first time Drenthe has been late or tested the patience of Moyes, who claimed a recent absence from the squad was due to “compassionate leave”, and, with only five matches of the Premier League season remaining, he is unlikely to feature for Everton again.Drenthe’s pace and penetration were sorely missed by Everton in their poor semi-final display against Liverpool, but Moyes would not compromise squad unity by including a player who has let down his team-mates several times. The 25-year-old is on a season‑long loan from Real Madrid and out of contract in the summer. He has expressed a desire to remain on Merseyside and at one stage Moyes may have tolerated the erratic behaviour of a player who has scored four goals in 27 appearances this season. Now it appears the Everton manager has washed his hands of him.Whether Moyes himself will be at Goodison Park next season remains uncertain after the semi-final exit ensured his decade in charge will remain trophy-less. The Scot always intended to leave talks on a new contract at Everton until the end of the season but although defeat by Liverpool has added to Moyes’s frustrations, the club captain, Phil Neville, believes he is planning to stay.Neville claimed: “The way he has managed us in the last month or two suggests to me that he is in it for the long term. He has been fantastic and rotated the team, something this club hasn’t been able to do before. The lads have really embraced that. He is ambitious and he wants to get to the top. He wants to do that with Everton. We’ve just got to make sure we stop slipping up at this stage.”Everton appeared content to preserve their first-half lead at Wembley where only their goalscorer, Nikica Jelavic, performed well. Yet despite a brittle second-half display, Tim Cahill claimed Kenny Dalglish’s team were gifted a place in the final after mistakes from Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman led to Liverpool’s goals.”It didn’t seem as though they caused us many problems. We pretty much handed the game over,” said Cahill. “They scored the two goals and they have to do that to beat us. But they are going to find it difficult to win the final. But they seem to have the luck on their side when they play Everton. They get the rub of the green and a few decisions didn’t go our way. But I have a lot of respect for Kenny and his boys and if they win the cup, then fair play to them.”FA Cup 2011-12EvertonLiverpoolFA CupReal MadridDavid MoyesAndy 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds