Kenny Dalglish's second spell in charge of Liverpool FC may have begun with FA Cup disappointment, but he says his side's "fantastic commitment" augurs well for the future.
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It was perhaps not quite the return to the fold that Liverpool FC fans and headline writers were hoping for, but Kenny Dalglish was upbeat following his side's FA Cup third round exit at Manchester United FC. He lauded his side's "fantastic commitment" and pointed to "positive signs" for the future.
Liverpool lost 1-0 to their great rivals as Dalglish's second spell in charge got off to the most inauspicious start when they conceded a penalty inside 30 seconds. Daniel Agger's foul on Dimitar Berbatov gave the hosts an early spot kick which Ryan Giggs duly converted and, as if going behind to the Premier League leaders was not troublesome enough, the visitors' woes were compounded by the 32nd-minute dismissal of Steven Gerrard for dangerous play.
In spite of the double setback Liverpool were only ever a goal in arrears and though United could have extended their advantage through Jonny Evans, who hit a post, and Berbatov, who twice skied presentable opportunities, Dalglish took heart from his side's battling display.
"It's difficult to come here and play at Manchester United," said the 59-year-old, returning to the post two decades after stepping down at the reigning champions. "They are top of the league and a fantastic side, but after going down to ten men and losing a goal in the first minute we showed fantastic courage and commitment."
In the context of a disappointing run of form (five defeats in nine league matches) which has plunged 12th-placed Liverpool within four points of the relegation zone, such a narrow reverse against a team still unbeaten this season was no disgrace, even if the visitors' chances were restricted to Fábio Aurélio's free-kick. And Dalglish, believes that such a fighting spirit allied with the backing of his side's supporters augurs well for the remainder of the campaign.
"The player's endeavour was matched by the supporters," he added. "If we can get everyone pulling in the right direction, we've got a good chance going forward. We might pass it better, we might shoot better, but I can't fault them for their effort. Now we need to get some confidence into the players. There were really positive signs."