Winning the League Cup was good, but what have you done for us lately? I mean, it was over almost two whole days ago, and if Liverpool lose to Arsenal in the league or Stoke in the FA Cup it'll end up little more than silver lining for one big, dark cloud. So sure, winning was nice and all. But you can't go on living in the past forever…
* Five minutes after the League Cup final ended in drama and jubilation (or heartbreak, if you're a Cardiff supporter), it was time to start worrying about the future. Which meant that almost every question asked of Liverpool's players in the wake of victory was about how said victory might impact future chances at victory. When he wasn't walking away from Sky's Andy Burton for asking some of the most embarrassingly out of place questions ever put to a victorious athlete (in victory), Jamie Carragher was amongst the growing chorus ready to move on to worrying about the league before the last drop of champagne had fallen to the Wembley turf:
We should be looking to get into Europe every year through our league position rather than through winning the Carling Cup. Yes, it is nice to have it in the bag but we are bigger and better than that. It's great that we have qualified for the Europa League, of course it is, but we want to do that through our league position. The next step is trying to get back into the Champions League.
And it wasn't only Carragher looking to move on straight away, though when it comes to Craig Bellamy's take on life, the universe, and cup victories, he'd made clear leading up to the match that his priority was always the league. Any post-match elation, then, wasn't enough to sway the Welsh striker from his previously stated outlook, and he was further skeptical that Sunday's victory was going to provide a platform to push the club on to greater heights in the league just because winning felt good:
A platform? Look, we will just have to wait and see on that. I just think, the Carling Cup for Birmingham last year, was it a platform for them? It certainly wasn't. It's not the end of the season for us now we've won a trophy. The simple fact is that at this club there is pressure on the club—day in, day out—to play at the highest level. That's what we've got to continue to try to do.
The top four is the aim… Champions League football is what every footballer and every club wants to be at.
* Even if most of the players were eager to talk about re-focusing on the drive for fourth, there were at least a few more content to enjoy the moment and focus on the present. One of those players was Dirk Kuyt, who yesterday ended his own six year trophy drought at the same time the club snapped theirs. When it comes to the Dutchman, he thinks the level of competition Liverpool faced along the way speaks to the value of the trophy even if some on the outside would seek to lessen the achievement—plus Sunday's result has made him hopeful when it comes to Liverpool's chances at the domestic cup double:
The way we won this trophy by beating Chelsea away, beating Stoke away and beating Manchester City over two legs showed we can compete with the best and this is a massive step forward for the club. Hopefully, we can still bring another trophy in this year, although there is still a long way to go, but we have found the way forward now and I am very pleased with that.
While all the players are focused on achieving more this season and not letting the League Cup become the functional end of Liverpool's campaign, the slightly different tone is interesting and mirrors the fourth vs. trophies debate that has been going on amongst fans ever since Liverpool booked their first trip to the new Wembley in January.
* If it wasn't enough to get the players moving on to Liverpool's future prospects in the league and FA Cup, coming off his best performance at the club there was even some discussion by Stewart Downing about international prospects and the constantly entertaining (just not on the pitch) mess that is the English national team:
I just think [the manager] should be the best man for the job. I enjoyed playing under Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren, and others. Whoever the FA decide to go with, we’re all under scrutiny. We all have to impress with our performances. We have to be strong-minded and concentrate on the games.
I was a bit shocked that Capello went. It came out of the blue. Obviously, a few things had gone on, but I still thought he would stay. I enjoyed working with him and he gave me plenty of chances.
However, while Downing might be less interested in bleating on about England for the English than some players and pundits in the wake of Capello's dismissal, he doesn't agree with everything from the Italian's time in charge. Most notably, he thinks Capello's occasional discussion of Andy Carroll's "lifestyle choices" was more than a little unfair:
From what I know of Andy he’s a quiet lad. That’s not the Andy I know. Things can get blown out of proportion. He’s a young lad, he’s learning the game, he’s learning ways in life. You make mistakes along the way but, from what I’ve known of him at Liverpool, he’s been no problem at all.
So he's saying there's a chance Andy Carroll won't wake up this morning with a hangover like a dozen screaming infants run through the Wembley PA system and a gap in his memory where Monday should have been. Which is probably a good thing. Unless it turns out that beer for Carroll has always been roughly his equivalent of Popeye's spinach, and a quieter, healthier lifestyle since arriving at Liverpool has been at the root of his often quieter and less assertive performances.
We'll be back with any breaking news, but in the meantime, since the players might be back in training but you don't have to worry about moving on for at least a little while longer…