There’ll be more an edge to the League Cup final on Sunday than you’d initially think for two teams that have little link or rivalry. A lot of this may come as a surprise to Liverpool supporters.
One reason is that there are a lot of Liverpool fans that live in South Wales. And I mean a LOT. The jokes were that the two best supported teams in South Wales had got to the final and they weren’t far off the mark.
The high level of support owes more to Liverpool’s past glories than being any reflection on their current abilities, and the unbelievable crapness of Cardiff during the 80s and 90s contributed a lot to the attractiveness of supporting Liverpool. Many City fans will have grown up with the majority of their mates supporting Liverpool and giving them stick for going to the City.
Now the gap between the teams has narrowed and it’s heartening to see as many City shirts being worn by kids in South Wales as Liverpool or Manchester United ones. But for the older generation the chance to put one over on Liverpool is a huge motivation, even if it is simply so they can walk into work on Monday and brag to the Liverpool supporters.
Another thing that’ll be confusing for Liverpool fans is that the majority of the country will be behind Cardiff (a novelty for Cardiff fans too) and not simply in an ‘oh-the-British-love-an-underdog’ fashion.
Liverpool have always been the media darlings of football. Ex-players have gone to work in high-profile TV and radio jobs (just look at the regular MOTD sofa) and Liverpool have always had a smooth ride. Everyone cheered them on in Istanbul, the same can’t be said for Manchester United in Barcelona. Liverpool built up a reputation and a stack of goodwill from the football community in general, but their reputation is in tatters after the Suarez incident and the way the club handled it. Every football team has a ‘no-one likes us’ attitude among it’s support but at Liverpool it’s been slightly delusional and coupled with a bit of a victim complex. However now the ‘no-one likes us’ view may be justified. It’ll be interesting to see how Liverpool players and fans react to that on the day. Perhaps a spell as a genuine underdog would help soften attitudes towards to Liverpool.
It’ll also be an interesting game for Craig Bellamy, who was at Cardiff last season and is a Cardiff boy through and through (just listen to him talk, pure Cardiff from the accent to the mannerisms to the attitude). Like many South Walians he grew up a Liverpool fan, but if he does manage to score (and many Cardiff fans are resigned to the fact that it would be bloody typical if he did) then the chances that he’ll celebrate it are slim.
On the pitch, Liverpool shouldn’t underestimate Cardiff, who are a decent side pushing for promotion in a strong division. Though their form hasn’t been great lately they have genuine ambitions to be in the Premier League in the near future will be looking at the League Cup as a way to show that they’re serious about that. Of course on paper Liverpool are stronger than Cardiff, but Cardiff have a solid defence and an industrious midfield, sprinkled with the inspiration of Peter Whittingham, whose link up play for the ever alert Kenny Miller will cause problems for Liverpool if they’re caught napping. Most people will be expecting a Liverpool win and anything less would be a disaster for Kenny Dalglish.
Cardiff won’t be looking to merely ‘put up a decent fight’ and for their fans to have a jolly day out. They will be going there to win. And Liverpool fans would be minded to recall that Cardiff have played at the new Wembley more times than Liverpool have.
- Cardiff City vs. Liverpool: Preview and Live Stream for 2012 Carling Cup Final (bleacherreport.com)
- Carling Cup : Reliving Liverpool’s 7 Wins in League Cup Finals (bleacherreport.com)
- You: Dalglish Cardiff Deserve Maximum Respect (sportsviews.com)