Gerrard: Reds' position isn't good enough
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes the "bottle" they showed to reach the FA Cup final has be transferred to their league form next season. The Reds came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 in their semi-final meeting at Wembley to set up a clash with Chelsea on 5 May.
They may have been gifted their second-half equaliser after Sylvain Distin's mishit back-pass put Luis Suarez in, but the Uruguayn international showed composure and a clinical edge to cancel out Nikica Jelavic's effort before the break. But there was no element of fortune about the second as Craig Bellamy's inswinging free-kick four minutes from time was headed home by Andy Carroll.
Liverpool remain on course to complete only the fourth FA Cup/League Cup double in history, having achieved the feat already once themselves in 2001. But regaining their UEFA Champions League status next season, after their bid failed this campaign, remains the priority.
"There was a lot of pressure on the team because we were playing against our big rivals and went a goal down, but it shows what character and bottle this squad have got to respond and react and get the win," said Gerrard. "We could have won the game more comfortably with the chances we had in the second half.
"We are relieved, but we've won nothing yet and the big game is going to be the final now. We won the Carling Cup and we should have gone on and moved up the league and put up a big fight for the top four, so we as a squad need to address that at the end of the season. If we go on and win this cup we can look at this season as a success, but the league doesn't lie and our league position is not good enough.
"I believe we have the players in the squad to certainly improve next year. On our day we can beat anyone - we've beaten Chelsea and Manchester United - but as a squad we need to be better and as players we need to take responsibility. Everyone knows what we need to address. We need more consistency. We need to be winning the games against the likes of Wigan and Stoke. We are better than those teams but we have not shown it.
"It is not about possession against those teams, it is about getting three points. We have shown against better teams we have created chance after chance and have not killed people off and that is why we are where we are. We need to be mentally stronger in the league."
Gerrard hits out against Carroll critics
One of the players who has had to show character is Carroll, who has been under almost constant scrutiny since his £35 million move from Newcastle United in January 2011. So far each of his goals has come in a Liverpool victory, but that record only spans nine matches. But Gerrard said criticism of the 23-year-old was unjustified.
"Andy [Carroll] has proved on the big stage what he is capable of and he has proved all his critics wrong," said the England midfielder. "He was superb for us in the semi-final and has been every time he has been called upon. I am sure he will deliver for us in the final if he is called upon again."
Questions have been raised about the suitability of pairing Carroll and Suarez together, but Gerrard said the players had no doubts. "Suarez and Carroll are two good players and they put in two good performances and showed what they are about," he said. "We have every faith in them as a partnership."
Although the final is all Liverpool have left to play for, the captain said it was important to maintain some momentum ahead of that. "Moving forward we need to get some wins under our belts and try to go into the cup final in good form," he said. "We are confident (for the final) but we are not getting carried away. It is going to be a massive game."
- User comments »