With only a couple of days separating us from Sunday's League Cup final, we've wound down the recaps of Liverpool's seven victories---last to arrive was the 2003 win over United, but be sure to track back a bit and take a look at how Liverpool's become the most successful club in the competition's history. It'd be nice if that kept you busy enough to stop giggling nervously and catastrophizing about Sunday, although I think we both know that if you've actually been paying attention to Liverpool, catastrophic giggling is default mode.
* With a sudden surge of form and having something suspiciously like a positive impact, Andy Carroll's gone from "£35million bust" to "£35million probably still a bust but he's doing something well so maybe we should start to give him some face time so we can at least say we're trying before we turn on him the next time he fluffs his lines" in the press.
The offal's been judicious in how much exposure they've given the young striker as well, hopefully for entirely different reasons, but they've got him giving a range of comments on Sunday's match, his form, and where he sees things headed:
"I am buzzing and can't wait for it. All of the lads are the same. It's a cup final at Wembley for Liverpool, so it's great. I came here to win medals. Getting to Wembley is great - now hopefully we can go there and get the win. I'm getting the games I want, my fitness is up there now, and I'm scoring goals - it feels good. We've got a great team and a great squad, so he (Dalglish) could put anyone in and anyone will do a job. I've just got to work hard this week and try to get myself in the starting XI."
I honestly can't remember Andy Carroll having done anything while with Liverpool---bar not really doing much on the pitch for what seemed like large spells---that I've adamantly disagreed with, and in terms of attitude and commitment to the cause, I've experienced him to be someone that at least says all the right things. Whether that's reflective of reality is possibly another case entirely; Kenny Dalglish has been vocal in his affirmation of Carroll's efforts, but that's not necessarily an objectively solid appraisal either.
So as usual, there's some middle ground between the media narrative of a homesick, partying hooplehead and the club's portrayal of him as a choir boy, and for now that seems to be good enough. I don't know what else we should expect from a 23 year-old with entirely too much money and fame, and if he's saying the right things, doing most of them, and fully committed to helping Liverpool achieve success, then maybe the shrieking will stop.
* For his part, Dalglish has also been active in normalizing the club's preparations for Sunday, spending much of his time tripping over himself to point out how respectful Liverpool will be of their opposition. It might ring falsely for some---lord knows the Liverpool boss hasn't gained too many new admirers in the past few months---but it's part of an overarching goal to get Liverpool back to a place where they can be seen as "good winners:"
"Somebody once described Liverpool to me as ‘very good winners’. It is really difficult when you’re a winner to be friendly, amiably and respectful but I think that is the greatest compliment anyone has ever paid this club. When they were flying, they were good winners.
“The club wants to be challenging more often than it has been in the past. Just to get there is a fantastic reward and endorsement in the way the club has moved on. To see the improvement and advancement at the club over the past two years for myself and everybody else who has an affiliation for the club must be quite refreshing.”
Which gives us a second to do the obligatory reflection of how dismal everything seemed just over a year ago, with nothing to play for other than *gulp* Premier League survival.
Okay, now that you're all misty, let's just acknowledge that this season certainly hasn't been wholly enjoyable, and at times it's been downright miserable. You could argue that there's been moments that gave you more embarrassed goosebumps than anything in the whole of last year. Other than this. And there's a whole heap of work left to be done before the end of the season, regardless of how Sunday turns out.
But goddammit, just be happy, enjoy the final, and let's watch Liverpool win their record eighth League Cup.
* And while you're doing so---especially if you're there---you can be active in continuing to boycott the S*n, as the Hillsborough Justice Campaign is coordinating an effort to distribute 25,000 A3 posters outside Wembley on the day. The Campaign's Facebook and Twitter pages are the best resources for up-to-date information on the effort, which has been backed by Cardiff Supporters as well.
That's it for Friday, and we'll be back later on in the day with a final video ahead of tomorrow's preview. In the meantime, you can feel free to wonder about just how good Liverpool would be on Sunday with Patrick Stewart in the squad: