This midweek saw another round of Carabao Cup action. The debate over the value of the erstwhile League Cup has again somewhat overshadowed the action.
It’s not often Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are singing from the same hymn sheet. On the subject of England’s second domestic cup though, they are most definitely in tune. The Manchester United manager was the first to speak out on the subject this week. His comments weren’t exactly scathing toward the tournament. The sentiment was clear however, “If you ask me could the English football survive or even be better without this competition, maybe”, said Mourinho.
The United boss commenting after his side had seen off Burton to reach the next round. He followed his comment up by saying, “Maybe we would be fresher for European competition for example”. He may have a point too. Only England and France in the ‘top 5’ European leagues have two domestic cup competitions. Sandwiched between Champions League midweeks and without a weekend off along the way it’s a test to the squads of those involved in European football. Guardiola agrees, “it’s a title and if you win its ok, but after people don’t give you much credit”. The Spaniard was also at pains to point out the difficulties of keeping players fresh when playing so often. So perhaps those competing in the Champions League and Europa League would benefit from having one less trophy to compete for. But what about everyone else?
Hughes in favour
Mark Hughes stepped up in defence of the competition that he won three times, with three different clubs. The Stoke manager was responding to questions about Mourinho’s comments on the Cup. Hughes stated that the tournament was important to clubs like Stoke, as it represented an opportunity to win a trophy, despite his side being knocked out in midweek. This argument may be flawed somewhat given that the Welshman made six changes to his Stoke side for their midweek cup game. If the competition was being taken seriously then teams wouldn’t be making so much changes.
Herein lies the problem with the Carabao Cup. Too many clubs treat the competition as inferior. For teams in Europe it’s an inconvenience. Teams at the wrong end of the table prefer to save their players for trying to gain league points. It’s not just the Premier League teams either. The Championship season is long and arduous, longer still for those in the playoffs. Year on year we see Football League teams resting their top players for League Cup duty.
There seems to be a pretty good argument for scrapping the competition. But what of those in favour? Fans want nothing more than to see their team win a trophy. Given how difficult it is to win any league, a cup represents a more realistic opportunity for silverware. But a look at the list of previous League Cup winners doesn’t really back this up. Established Top 6 Premier League teams have won eight of the last ten League Cups. The two Manchester sides have won five of those eight between them. Jose Mourinho himself has won the competition on four occasions.
So who would benefit from scrapping the tournament? The teams competing in European competition certainly would. Teams without big enough squads to play on so many fronts would surely not miss it either. The FA Cup would probably benefit too. English footballs blue riband cup competition has arguably lost some of its lustre in recent times. If it were to become the only cup competition it would certainly regain some of its importance. Perhaps those who are so often an afterthought in such conversations, the fans, would also benefit. It’s an expensive lifestyle following your team these days, fewer games might improve the bank balance slightly.
I doubt the FA will scrap the competition. It’s probably worth a few quid to them in terms of sponsorship. Nobody seems to be benefiting from it other than that. Neither the big teams or the small, the players or the fans. Traditionalists will be against such a change. To continue to improve though, you must change along the way. The competition being removed is a change that has been needed for a long while now. I bet you won’t even miss it when it’s gone.
What do you think? Should the Carabao Cup be scrapped? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit EFL.com