London: Success in the Cups has not masked Liverpool's dire Premier League form, and now Kenny Dalglish knows the owners will make management staff pay the price for failure.
Director of football Damien Comolli was hastily booted out on Thursday, the fall guy for Liverpool's failure to challenge for Champions League qualification despite spending more than $180 million on players in little more than a year.
As English football's one of the most successful clubs was reeling from Comolli's firing, the American owners felt the need to publicly assure Dalglish that his job as manager is under no immediate threat.
Although returning to the Premier League's top four is the priority, Dalglish can shield himself from mounting criticism on Saturday by leading Liverpool into the FA Cup final with a victory over Everton at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool will be returning to the scene of its League Cup final victory over Cardiff in February, the first success for Dalglish since the Red Sox ownership group bought him back as manager of the club after a 20-year absence in Jan. 2011.
"We've got great confidence in Kenny," Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said. "We feel the team is going to make strides in the future and he enjoys our full support."
But justifying Comolli's exit, Werner insisted that while the owners "prefer stability ... when it's time to act, we need to act."
And Werner appeared to question the running of the team when he stressed that the 18-time English champions had a squad which should not be languishing in eighth place in the Premier League.
"We feel there is enough talent on the pitch to win," he said. "I would say we certainly have the resources to compete with anybody in football."
But the five-time European champions will miss out on the Champions League for a third straight year.
"Our league campaign hasn't been good enough," captain Steven Gerrard said. "We're all frustrated and the players have under-delivered in the league, all of us.
"Not just the new signings, not just certain individuals, all of us have under-delivered in the league but we've done fantastically in the cups."
Liverpool will not be underestimating their local rivals, though, with Everton currently a place higher in the league.
"Everton are in good form and we have been inconsistent in the league," Gerrard said. "Everton have a superb manager and that is the key to everything in Everton's form.
"The new signings in January (including striker Nikica Jelavic) have made them a lot stronger but they are a difficult side to beat."
Everton's hopes have been boosted by Liverpool having to deploy third-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones with both Alexander Doni and Pepe Reina suspended. Reina had played 183 successive Premier League matches before being banned.
"It is a blow because he is one of the backbones of that club," Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "As talented as he is they will also miss his presence because he is a strong character and I know what it is like to be missing big players.
"You are so used to walking down the tunnel seeing certain guys you are going into battle with, it's like your armour, and when they are missing you feel you are missing a piece of that armour."
While Everton and Liverpool are dueling for seventh place in the league, the other semifinalists - Chelsea and Tottenham - are tussling for a spot in the top four. Tottenham are fourth, two points ahead of their sixth-place London rivals with five rounds remaining.
Tottenham will only have two fit central defenders for Sunday's meeting at Wembley: Ryan Nelsen and William Gallas, who have a combined age of 68.
Chelsea also have defensive problems with right back Branislav Ivanovic suspended and manager Roberto Di Matteo is yet to say if John Terry and Ashley Cole will be risked with the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona three days later the priority.
The semi-finals will take some of the attention off the Premier League title race, which was opened up - slightly - by Manchester United's lead over Manchester City being cut to five points with Wednesday's loss at Wigan.
"The great part of our club is that we do recover, and we have to recover from Wednesday," United manager Alex Ferguson said ahead of Sunday's match against Aston Villa.
City play at Norwich the previous day with manager Roberto Mancini claiming United will capture a 20th English title.
"We can't win," he said. "They have big experience and a fantastic team. They have everything. We have nothing."