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A Waste Of Time?

Is the Carling Cup still worth the trouble?

Posted Sep 23, 2010 by Shaun Edwards

Is It A Waste?

With the big clubs making their way into England’s third-choice trophy and with two of them (Chelsea and Liverpool) promptly bowing out again due to flukes, a weakened team and penalty shoot outs, it seems time to ask that question no-one really seems to know the answer to: is the Carling Cup a waste of time?

Yes, admittedly the last five years have seen it won by Manchester United three times, and Chelsea and Spurs once each, but the simple truth is that despite their public attitudes implying otherwise, the Carling Cup is just never going to take priority for those teams in the Champion’s League. 

If you need any evidence of this, then just look at Sir Alex Ferguson, who this week decided to fly to Valencia to scope out United’s next Champions League opponents rather than watch his team defeat Scunthorpe.  You can’t really blame United for this - they got the win anyway, and there were several first team players in the side – but for United assistant boss Mike Phelan to then come out and state that the cup is ‘a priority’ is a little dishonest.

At least Chelsea more or less confessed this fact by bowing out after a Stamford Bridge defeat to Newcastle.  Yes, the cup is a great leveller, but is anyone seriously telling me that had that been a league match, the English champions wouldn’t have come out and taken the Geordies apart?  In various interviews, Chelsea have made no secret that even the Premier League is Roman Abramovich’s second choice when it comes to trophies, so how can anyone expect them to give a monkey’s for a trophy that they could win with their hands tied behind their back if they really tried?

Does this mean that the Carling Cup is a waste?  Well, no.  It’s a piece of legitimate silverware, and is a great opportunity for those clubs slightly down the table (or even down the divisions) to raise a trophy at Wembley.  In the last ten years Leicester, Blackburn and Middlesborough have all claimed the Cup, with sides such like Birmingham, Bolton and Wigan all reaching the final. 

In the end, the League Cup provides something a bit different for those fans who are sick of seeing the same three teams dominate the FA Cup and the Premier League.  With those dominant teams not putting as much stock into the Carling Cup, it represents what football should be all about: a level playing field, where anything can happen, and where a newly promoted team can go to Stamford Bridge and knock out Chelsea.

It’s not a glamorous competition, but it still matters.

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