Liverpool 2-1 Everton: Dalglish defends signings as late Carroll goal edges semi

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists he has been pleased with the development of FA Cup semi-final hero Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson at Anfield this season.

The pair have been highlighted most often in discussions about Liverpool’s spending under Dalglish, a combined price tag in excess of £50 million hardly pointing towards value for money.

It does not seem owner John Henry thinks so given this week’s abrupt departure of director of football Damien Comolli. However, Carroll’s late matchwinner silenced a few of his critics and Dalglish is delighted with Henderson’s overall contribution too.

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“As long as they are giving everything they have got, I will always support the player,” Dalglish said.

“Yes, they will make mistakes but they are only young and they are trying to play in one of the top leagues in the world, in a new environment, which is getting more comfortable week after week. For them to adjust to that as quickly as they have has been quite rewarding and very encouraging.”

The criticism directed at Liverpool over recent weeks has been intense. Just two Barclays Premier League wins during 2012 has dropped the Merseyside giants down to ninth in the table, way below Henry’s stated aim of a Champions League berth. However, if the FA Cup can be added to the Carling Cup when Liverpool head back to Wembley on 5 May, all the brickbats might have been worthwhile.

“Everyone has been battered,” Dalglish said. “Maybe that is what we need to get ourselves going forward.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion but if you want to be a top player, you have to go through most of the emotions you get in football. Part of that is how you come back from criticism.

“These players have shown they are capable of coming back but it is not finished. We have to try and do as much as we can over the remaining games of the season, one being the FA Cup final.”

For all the criticism, and claims that Henry will not hesitate to get rid of Dalglish should performances not improve, the Liverpool chief was anxious to play down suggestions of a rift.

Indeed, he feels this season’s trials and tribulations might just have brought them all a little bit closer.

“It is all very well and good being there when everything is hunky dory,” he said. “But it is when there is a bit of mud flying about that we have to stand up and be counted and stand alongside each other.

“Our supporters have been truly supportive of us and irrespective of what you read or hear elsewhere, this club will always stand together.”

Much has been made of Comolli’s exit, and the impact it will have on Dalglish.

The feared fall-out of such a significant decision so close to a major game did not come to pass and once Luis Suarez equalised against Everton on Saturday, Liverpool always looked likely to book their first FA Cup final appearance since that memorable win over West Ham at the Millennium Stadium in 2006.

Yet Comolli’s departure remains a talking point among the Anfield faithful and, speaking to daughter Kelly in an interview before the game, Dalglish attempted to put his own view across.

“I had an excellent working relationship with Damien,” he said. “Every single player is there because I chose to bring them in. He did a really good job and took a whole lot of work away from me.

“It is sad when anyone loses their job. Damien would be disappointed but I don’t think there are too many surprised at these things. You become a bit bullet-proof.

“You never know, the next time it might be yourself. The only surprise is that you are surprised.”