copyright: REUTERS

Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McManaman has accused Kenny Dalglish of sacrificing the club's Premier League form in the pursuit of FA Cup glory on Saturday.

The Reds succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Fulham at Anfield on Tuesday night, with the club now close to finishing outside the top eight for the first time since 1954.

Dalglish made nine changes to the side with Saturday's cup final against Chelsea in mind, but former Liverpool midfielder McManaman feels the squad should be strong enough to cope with a busy end of season fixture schedule.

"Why not win tonight and on Saturday? Why do we think we can just forgive tonight and win on Saturday," McManaman said after the match. "It's only rotation if you have the quality," McManaman told ESPN Soccernet.

"But you have to do yourself justice in front of the fans, who pay very good money while the economy [continues to decline]. You have to give them something and they've given them nothing - and that's what disappoints me.

"If you are going to go down, go down with the fans thinking, 'At least they had a go'. But there was none of that. Fulham were deserved winners."

Nevertheless, Liverpool boss Dalglish insists his main target is winning the FA Cup and he remains unconcerned with their final league position.

Liverpool, who have still won only five league games at Anfield this season, slipped 13 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and are in danger of finishing in the bottom half for the first time in over 50 years.

"There is an obsession with the Premier League," Dalglish told BBC Sport. "But there's satisfaction from winning a cup that you don't get from finishing fifth or sixth in the league."

Dalglish ended the club's six-year trophy drought with victory in the Carling Cup in February and the Scot maintains a win against Chelsea on Saturday would constitute a successful season for the Anfield club.

"Any competition you enter you want to do the best you possibly can in," said the Liverpool manager.

"In the league it is 38 games and at the end you finish in a position which tells you how successful it has been.

"We have already tasted a cup final this year, albeit the Carling Cup and getting to the FA Cup final should never be under-estimated in any way.

"It is a fantastic day out for everyone and is great reward for the efforts and commitment of the players and the respect we have paid to the competition. The season will be assessed when it's finished."