The last time these two sides met was the Carling Cup final of 2012. Back then, Liverpool's victory had brought then manager Kenny Dalglish a moment of respite from yet another faltering Champion's League challenge. Cardiff on the other hand were busy competing for promotion to the Premier League, and although they lost the final, they took Liverpool to penalties and were mightily unlucky not to win the trophy themselves.
Cardiff were once the envy of many teams outside the Premier League. They had recently built a stadium in 2009 and in 2010 current chairman and billionaire Vincent Tan brought over the club. Conversely, Liverpool were in utter disarray. They had sold their best players in consecutive seasons: Xabi Alonso (2009), Fernando Torres (2011); and had replaced them with utter failures: Aquilani (2009) and Andy Carroll (2011). Furthermore, following the takeover of Hicks and Gillette - who seemed hellbent on destroying the very essence of the club, Liverpool were taken over by Fenway Sport Group (FSG) - who initially did not seem to have a clue on how to run a football club.
How times have changed; as it has turned out, billionaire Vincent Tan is the latest rich mad-man to make it into the Premier League. Although plowing his own money into the team, he has walked a tightrope at times with his decisions to change the clubs crest and colour of the playing kit. For some fans, messing around with the identity of their beloved club is simply a no go zone. For others, they do not mind as long as the chairman's meddling does not interfere with the teams performances on the pitch.
Therefore, it is no surprise Tan's treatment of Malky Mackay has gone down horribly with the entire footballing universe. Many managers, pundits and even an MP have spoken out against Tan's ludicrous charges at Mackay which include: poor results, an unattractive playing style and overspending on the transfer budget - all of which make no sense when you consider how far Cardiff have come from under Mackay.
Starting with the results: under Mackay, Cardiff have finished: 6th in 2011/12 season, losing to Liverpool in the Carling Cup; 1st last season and they are now 15th - 4 points away from the drop zone. From here I cannot see Tan's problem, each year has seen massive improvements and in the 2011/12 season and arguably this season, Cardiff have overachieved in terms of what was expected of them. Furthermore, against the likes of Liverpool a few seasons back, Manchester City and Manchester United, Mackay has shown himself to be a highly competent manager, capable of raising his teams performances against the very biggest.
Of course it is understandable if Tan thinks Cardiff are underachieving results and style wise when taking into consideration how much money they have spent. Though, I would argue the money Cardiff have spent (32 million), was spent to equalise the deficit between Premier League squads and Championship squads. You only have to ask Chelsea or Manchester City fans just how money needs to be spend to become one of the big boys in the league; better yet, ask Blackburn, Leeds United or Portsmouth fans just how wrong it can go if your chairman has not a clue on how to run a football club - because that is exactly where Cardiff will be heading if Tan does not get a grip with reality.
Brendan Rodgers was right in his assessment of Vincent Tan. In fact, Rodgers would know all about effective leadership from owners at a club considering he is a beneficiary of one. FSG caught much flak for their controversial transfer policy which meant no player over 24 would be considered for a purchase.
Following years of mis-management, many Liverpool fans wondered if they would ever see Champions League football again. Most fans thought the policy was merely a ploy to reduce the wage bill - after all, players under 24 command less of a wage than those in the prime of their careers.
Suspicion reached boiling point after ageing favourites such as: Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez and Raul Meirelas were replaced with younger, inferior players for millions, whilst others like Joe Cole who absolutely were of no use remained at the club.
It took a while for the policy to take effect, but since the signings of Coutinho and Sturridge, as well as removing under-performers Reina and Joe Cole, Liverpool have transcended to another level. Furthermore, as Brendan Rodgers is under no illusions regarding his role at the club, he is able to work with his transfer committee, identify the players he needs, fit them into the team and establish methods of getting the team to performer to his desires, without fear or trepidation of an outburst coming from the board.
The effectiveness of the FSG regime has brought clarity, harmony and prosperity after years of confusion. It is no surprise that for the first time in eons, Liverpool have enjoyed successive joys in the transfer market. This has transcended onto the pitch and has persuaded previous want-away striker Luis Suarez to sign a new long term contract - just months after he was so desperate to leave to an Arsenal team that has not won anything in almost a decade.