Winning ugly will do for Liverpool

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Playing beautiful football doesn’t always guarantee success.

And, whilst I’m not suggesting that Everton’s style of play was ‘beautiful’ in comparison to the likes of Barcelona, they certainly did a lot of things better than Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday.

It’s a fact the most loyal Liverpool supporter would be happy to admit, for the simple reason that the Reds won the game.

In the first-half in particular, David Moyes’ side outplayed their more illustrious neighbours, suggesting that this season’s league positions replicate where the two teams are at the current time – Liverpool in eighth and Everton in seventh.

But, when it comes to matches in Cup competitions, a performance counts for nothing when only the winner advances to the next stage.

For all their good work in the opening period, the Toffees didn’t play well in the second-half, and without playing well themselves, Kenny Dalglish’s men took advantage to reach the final on May 5th.

Whether Chelsea will fail to produce the goods on the big stage is a different proposition entirely, but the victory over their great Merseyside rivals will stand the Reds in good stead no doubt.

“It’s something in our DNA. Liverpool seem to have that. I can always remember it, even as a kid, and I said to Stevie (Gerrard) after the game how often have we done that? It’s not going our way and we find a way to keep going and win,” said veteran defender Jamie Carragher, who was at fault for the Everton goal, post-match.

"I don’t know how we do it, but Liverpool have always done it in the past and I hope our teams continue to do it in the future. We put our supporters through it like every big game but there is something from within which not all clubs have got. Manchester United have got it too.

"Finding a way to win at big moments. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I’m delighted we’ve got it because we’re not as good as the teams at the top of the league. We can’t do it every week in the Premier League, but with one-off games it’s different.”

It’s a startlingly truthful assessment from Carragher, who freely admits that the Reds do not have all the tools in place to challenge for the English title at the current time.

It’s a far cry from the optimism at the start of the campaign, when Kenny Dalglish spent big to bring in a handful of players – including Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing.

Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll arrived for a fee in excess of £55 million the January before that, as the Reds spent with the best of them in their fight to be European contenders once again.

And, whilst they haven’t shown it at all times this season, these players have helped strengthen this team. More importantly, they’ve also taken on board the history and tradition of the club, and Carragher believes that showed in the big moments in the capital on Saturday.

"I don’t think we won the semi-final because of our great ability or great players, it’s a character thing. The teams at the top are the best teams but in one off games we have something inside us,” he added.

"I don’t think anyone could have that on a weekly basis but you can at certain moments. I’m not just talking about this team, but just Liverpool as a club. Getting late goals, coming back in games. It’s a special thing for a club to have and I think we have it.”

The reality is that Liverpool will need what he calls ‘character’ when the Reds come up against Chelsea in the Wembley final next month.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side will start as overwhelming favourites, showing great form in the closing stages of the current campaign and impressing during the emphatic 5-1 win over Spurs in the second semi-final yesterday – albeit with a little help from the officials for that controversial second goal.

Much can be made of Liverpool's season, and how as the months progressed they opted to focus on success in cup competitions rather than the league.

But, now they've put their eggs in that basket, Dalglish will be hoping his side can deliver once again when they visit Wembley for the third time this season.

And, as was the case the other two times, winning ugly would do just fine.

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Jamie Carragher
FA Cup

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