Dalglish urges supporters to bite back

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Liverpool have always been concerned with tradition, and they have good reason.

The history behind their multiple European Cup wins and the tragedy of Hillsborough among other notable events means the club will always be highly thought of.

The club's relationship with the League Cup, not always a competition held in the highest regard, has led to Kenny Dalglish fielding his strongest team this term, despite the inferior opposition.

"We are pleased to be in the Carling Cup and our intention is to stay in it for as long as we possibly can," Dalglish said prior to the club's tie with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Given the competition's dwindling importance, the Scot's treatment of the tournament is admirable. Even with the club without European football, he'd be forgiven for prioritising qualification for the Champions League.

The club's previous success means serious treatment of this competition is in the make-up of teams from Anfield. Messrs Wenger, Ferguson and Villas-Boas would do well to take note.

The club have been drawn in potentially the tie of the quarter-final, away to Chelsea, but fixture scheduling is set to deny us of a classic.

The tie comes just two days after Liverpool take on Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League, meaning that despite having two important games back-to-back, Dalglish will be forced to choose which game he deems the more important.

Dalglish won't have a potential fine hanging over his head in fielding an under-strength side in the league, but the likelihood is when having to choose between the two, he'll opt to rest his star names at Stamford Bridge.

Such is his consternation surrounding the fixture pile up, Dalglish is urging supporters to think twice about purchasing tickets for the game, as he plans to field a youth team.

"The one thing I will say to our fans is to think carefully before buying tickets for the League Cup game. We do not want them spending their money and then we decide there is no other option but to use only young players in the tie," he said.

"It is disgraceful in this day and age that players are being asked to play a league game and then a quarter-final just 48 hours later," he added.

"If the Football League want to devalue their own competition it's up to them.

"When we ask the Football League to move our game to a later date, we're told it's impossible. Where's the logic in that?"

Often the attraction of the fixture for a supporter, comes in either the profile of opposition or simply the importance of the game in the context of a season. In many ways, on paper, Chelsea v Liverpool falls into both categories.

However, Dalglish has exchanged the club's devotion to the competition, built up through multiple successes, in an attempt to draw attention to the ridiculous scheduling of his side's match.

The time of the game has been dictated by the police, who do not want two games going on in the same area, the other being Tottenham Hotspur's game with PAOK Salonika as well as the TUC rally, while they appear perfectly happy to see the Chelsea and Arsenal's home games take place on the same evening on Tuesday, albeit in varying areas of London.

Far be it from me to judge whether the police can fulfill a fixture or not, but the Football Association should be on hand to provide alternative solutions so every club is on an equal footing.

Especially for a club like Liverpool, who have during Dalglish's reign taken the tournament with a great deal of seriousness, they deserve fair treatment.

But if Dalglish, one of the most influential figures to ever step foot in Anfield, is telling supporters to think twice about attending fixtures, this could start a dangerous precedent for the leagues and the clubs themselves.

Those counting the cash on Merseyside are unlikely to be impressed with Dalglish telling supporters which games to attend and which ones to ditch, but can sleep easy knowing that with a support like the Reds', they should sell out their allocation on this particular occasion.

How long is it before those allocations aren't sold out? How long before, to fight scheduling, that granted on this occasion is partially out of the Football League's hands, the game must be devalued. One of those guilty, the television companies, are unlikely to be interested to covering events that clubs aren't taking seriously.

So you have fans who are being told not to attend the games and television companies not wanting to spend money on showing them. Bit by bit, you'll see football being punished for selling its soul.

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