Yesterday’s Carling Cup ties threw up a bunch of surprising moments but the end results were quite predictable:
Arsenal never stepped out of second gear against a mediocre Sheffield United side, Liverpool grabbed a win after a Stevie G winner while even Spurs, who have a habit of faltering against lower teams nicked a comfortable win at home to Blackpool. Chelsea were the team that played in yesterday’s match filled with shocks; they only just sneaked a 4-3 win over Leicester after a Frank Lampard hat-trick.
While there were twists and turns during the course of yesterday’s matches, they did end up as expected, so here I will ask you the question- is the Carling Cup a valued competition, or is it just a load of shite?
Manchester United fans will probably agree with the above; their reserves have faced two lower league sides and after they were
woefully inadequate unlucky on the day, they suffered the ignominy of being knocked out. The team I support, Arsenal on the other hand have used the competition to breed players such as Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner in recent years; all three look to play a major part in the Gunners’ future battles. Liverpool have tended to continue with their rotational policy for the Carling Cup while Chelsea generally play a full strength side with a couple reserves; as for the other teams in the Premiership, even a few of them have rested major players if they are drawn against lower league teams.
So a lot of the Premiership teams do rest their players in the Carling Cup. Would it be better then, if the Carling Cup was a competition excluding the top four?
Whilst the competition offers plenty of opportunity for shocks, it tends to go the way of the big teams- in the last five years, only Middlesbrough have taken the trophy outside the top four; the rest have been picked up by Manchester United, Chelsea (x2) and Liverpool. Out of ten finalists in those five years, just three have been from outside the top four, with Wigan Athletic (who were thrashed 4-0 by Man Utd) joining Bolton and Middlesbrough. Those stats would have been expected; which is why quite a few football fans have questioned the value of the Carling Cup, especially when it does not have the history or the glamour that the FA Cup does.
For me as an Arsenal fan, I’ve seen the Carling Cup as a useful way to catch a glimpse of the next Henry, the next Vieira or the next Bergkamp, however fans of other teams in the top four, as well as those lower down the Premiership may see it as a waste of time. I’ve only spoken to a few people about this, and have received widely contrasting views; most of them have been Arsenal fans though so slightly biased.
What about you? Do you see the Carling Cup as a decent way to play the reserves and get them facing some real competition, or is it just another set of games in an already overcrowded league calendar?