LIVERPOOL have FA Cup glory in their sights but Kenny Dalglish’s pressing concern is avoiding an unwelcome slice of history.
Chelsea stand between the Reds and completing a memorable domestic Cup double at Wembley next Saturday but the manager insists that capital showdown is a long way from his thoughts.
With tomorrow’s trip to Norwich City followed by Tuesday’s home clash with Fulham, there are six points up for grabs before the final – and how Liverpool need them.
Dalglish’s side are in serious danger of registering the club’s lowest top flight finish since they were relegated 58 years ago.
Liverpool’s worst season in Premier League history came in 1993/94 when they were eighth. They equalled that back in the 1962/63 campaign following their promotion back to the First Division.
However, the last time they finished outside the top eight was when they ended up rock bottom in 1953/54.
With four games to go, they find themselves eighth, just two points adrift of Everton but below them Fulham, West Brom, Sunderland, Swansea, Norwich and Stoke are all within striking distance.
Allow this campaign of under-achievement in the league to fizzle out and they could yet drop as low as 14th, where Tony Pulis’ Stoke currently sit, only four points worse off.
With each finishing position worth around £750,000 extra in merit payments, there is a lot more than pride at stake as they look to regain some momentum following last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at home to West Brom.
“The incentive we have is to represent the football club as much as anything else,” Dalglish insisted.
“We want to get as much as we can from every game we play in. We want to finish with as many wins and as many points in the league as we possibly can.
“We will try our best to get a win on Saturday. We want to finish above as many teams as we can.
“We have always set ourselves high standards and I don’t think they have let us down too often in terms of the level of performance.
“It would be nice if we were rubbish and won a game. Winning and putting points on the board is what it is all about. We’ll keep doing our best to achieve that.”
Last Sunday’s defeat to the Baggies was the story of the Reds’ season as they failed to make their dominance count and paid the price as Glen Johnson’s defensive error was punished.
It means they have dropped a massive 27 points at Anfield this season and have only taken 12 points out of a possible 45 in the league since the turn of the year.
However, Dalglish remains resolute in his belief that it’s simply a case of bad luck rather than a lack of quality.
“There is no-one happy with what’s happened in the games,” he said.
“No-one is happy with the lack of points we’ve had at Anfield but no-one can be disappointed with the performances.
“I’d say they have been better than decent. The players have not got the reward they deserved and it’s great credit to them that they continue to get in there and try their best to win matches. They show great resolve and determination.
“Nothing has changed this week. Everyone has continued to work hard and the way they work is a credit to their profession.
“They know they are good players – that’s not being arrogant or big headed.
“Their performance level is very high so if we just continue to play at that level then eventually it will work for us.
“There are no answers coming up but the less you have to change, the easier it is.”
Dalglish will lock horns with a familiar face tomorrow when the Reds travel to Carrow Road for the first time since 2005.
Canaries boss Paul Lambert played under Dalglish at Celtic and the Liverpool chief has been delighted to see him make such a big impact in management.
Lambert led Norwich into the Premier League on the back of two successive promotions and they have comfortably survived having already accumulated 43 points.
“They have been exceptional and Paul has been exceptional,” Dalglish said.
“They play the way Paul was brought up playing throughout his career in Scotland and Germany. He has his principles and beliefs.
“The job he has done has been fantastic. Last summer he got some decent players in and spent the money he had very wisely.
“I’m sure he will be looking to progress again next season and for the club to match his ambition.
“He will be looking to go back into the transfer market in the summer to enhance their squad. Not because anyone has done badly for him but just because it’s natural progression.
“I’m sure after the way he spent it last time he will spend it wisely again.”
Norwich claimed a point at Anfield back in October when big frontman Grant Holt came off the bench to cancel out Craig Bellamy’s opener.
Club captain Holt, who cost just £400,000 from Shrewsbury Town in 2009, has netted 13 league goals this season.
“It’s always pleasing to see someone like Grant do well with honest endeavour,” Dalglish added.
“No-one gets anywhere without working hard. Unfortunately for us he scored here in the first league game.
“It was a mirror image of most of the games we’ve played there. Their goalkeeper made a magnificent save near the end and we hit the woodwork.
“I just hope he has a bad day on Saturday. We want the three points.”