London: Victory for Liverpool in Sunday's League Cup final against second tier Cardiff City could help turn a difficult season into a success story, manager Kenny Dalglish said on Friday.
The Merseyside club started the campaign brimful of optimism, having invested heavily in a squad overhaul. That early-season confidence has diminished, however, as seventh-placed Liverpool's form has become marked by a failure to turn on-pitch dominance into the hard currency of Premier League points.
One bright spot for disappointed fans over an indifferent few months has been the team's cup form. After ousting rivals Manchester United they are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, while dogged victories over Chelsea and Manchester City helped them to reach Sunday's League Cup final at Wembley.
"We have still got a huge opportunity in front of us to make the season relatively successful," Dalglish told the club's website. "We've got the League Cup final, the sixth round of the FA Cup at home to Stoke City (next month) and some really important league matches coming up. It could be a decent season for everybody."
Sunday's match will be Liverpool's first appearance at the new Wembley Stadium since it reopened in 2007 and offers the club a chance to end a barren spell of six trophy-less years.
For Dalglish the side are a work in progress and a long way short of the Liverpool team he played in when he first arrived at Anfield in 1977.
"When I came to the club as a player I may have been the only one who came in that year," he said. "I was walking straight into a really successful club who had won the league, been to the FA Cup final and won the European Cup. Everything was set, everything was there. It was still a work in progress but where they were coming from was a really high standard."
"We weren't at that standard when I came back as manager (last year). We have to try and get there."
Cardiff are back at Wembley for the fourth time in four years, a run which includes a 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth in the 2008 FA Cup final. They are fifth in the second tier but manager Malky Mackay is hoping to cause an upset.
"We are massive underdogs and nine times out of 10 the underdogs are beaten, but there is the other time as well," he said. "The players I have are committed, determined and lack ego. They work hard and their focus is the next game. I would stand shoulder to shoulder with any of my squad every day. They go out to win every game," said Mackay.