Liverpool legend urges Benitez to take Carling Cup seriously

Whelan fears the financial pressures of the game will lead the current generation at Anfield to not experience the delight at lifting the trophy, like he did in 1983 and 1984.

Liverpool will face Leeds in the Carling Cup third round tonight.

“For me, scoring the winner against United in the 1983 final was one of my most memorable experiences in all my time at Liverpool,” he explained.

“It doesn’t get any better than that, and I can still remember it so clearly. Fans still remind me of it, and judging by the number of comments, I think of the 100,000 people at the game, 90,000 must have been crammed into one corner watching the trajectory of the ball as it curled into the net.

“We won four years on the run, and it was a hugely important trophy. It was Wembley and Liverpool were all about winning. But now, I think clubs have different agendas. The financial pressure to stay in the Premier League is huge, so many clubs concentrate on that, and the top teams are only interested in Europe.

“It’s a shame. It means players are always rotated, but when we played we never wanted to be rested – or injured for that matter – because if you went out of the team you might never get your place back.

“I’m not sure about this rotation. Our coach Tom Saunders used to say that if you think you’re tired, then you will be tired. I liked to play to keep my fitness and rhythm, but I see some Liverpool players now going out there half cooked because they are never match fit.

“Winning is a mentality, and you should want to play in every game and win it. I think the players still want to appear in every game – ask Jamie Carragher, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and they’ll tell you they want to, but the managers, especially the foreign ones, seem to have other ideas. It’s a shame.”

“You look at some of the benches Liverpool have had recently, and they don’t have the strength in depth at all. You look at some of the games this season and you see a lot of things wrong,” he continued.

“But you look at other matches this season and you see a lot of things right. They have a lot of names, but maybe not enough real players. And that means they could struggle again to win the title.

“When I left in 1994, never would I have thought it would be this long without winning the title. But maybe mistakes have been made. There is hardly a striker on the bench, but the manager has let three good squad strikers in Crouch, Bellamy and Keane go. I hope they can finally do it this year, but I’m not so sure.”