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Carling Cup: Is It All Worth It?

Northampton Town's manager Ian Sampson celebrates after the final whistle in their English League Cup soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Two questions for you, a soccer aficionado. What do the following sets of players have in common?

  • First set: Salomon Kalou, Gael Kakuta, Yossi Benayoun, Asamoah Gyan, Kieran Richardson, Anton Ferdinand and Kieran Gibbs.
  • Second set: Mendoza Marcos Alonso, Moreno Machado Rodrigo, Jan Mucha, Magaye Gueye, Ben Mee, Javan Vidal, John Guidetti, Jake Livermore, Steven Caulker, Thomas Ince, Nathan Eccleston, Jonjo Shelvey, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Bruma.

If you answered that the first set were players were injured in this mid-week’s Carling Cup games, give yourself one point. And if you answered that the second set of players were some of the relatively unknown footballers who played for Premier League clubs in the Carling Cup this week, pat yourself on the back. The second set of footballers played this mid-week for clubs including Bolton, Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea — all clubs who were knocked out of the Cup. But based on the player’s names, you may be in the same boat as me of never seeing them play yet for their respective club teams.

This all makes me wonder whether it’s worth paying attention to the Carling Cup. Key players get injured, as listed above. And while it’s refreshing to see reserve and youth players given a chance, how serious are the Premier League clubs about advancing in the tournament if they field their second string?

If clubs don’t care much about the Carling Cup, why should supporters?

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  1. Lyle

    September 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Why the heck does the Carling Cup have to be important? Will fans get over themselves and realize not every game is going to be a World Cup final like match? Lordy… who cares if the Carling Cup sees the “B-Team” of a Premier League side.

  2. Earl Reed

    September 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Obviously the big teams have to field squads because Carling isn’t paying ad rates for matches between League 2. I doubt a Top 4 team that’s consumed with Champions League play really cares that much about these matches. But it is the perfect time to bring out guys who need match work (for instance, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen for ManUtd yesterday) and reserves.

    Any team that’s going to take the Carling Cup seriously is likely more interested in obtaining the berth into the Playoff Round of the Europa League…or perhaps the opportunity to take down a giant (regardless of the perception of a big boy fielding a “B” squad).

    I have one idea to up the stakes of the Cup. What if the Football League proclaimed that any lower division team who won the Carling Cup would automatically receive one of the three promotion slots to the Premier League? So for instance, if the #12 Championship team finds a way to win, then they are promoted, #1 in the league table gets promoted, and #’2 through #5 play off for that final promotion?

    And I suppose that the followup to that could be a team designated for relegation could save themselves from that fate if they were the victors in the Carling Cup.

    • Dave C

      September 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      I think this is a pretty great idea!

  3. huh

    September 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Man City only had 3 1st squad defenders left as the other 5 are injured (lescott, Richards, Bridge, Kolarov and Boateng) they are in a similar situation up front with only 1 out of there top 3 fit Tevez. I fully understand Mancini not using the fit defenders or attacker as any more injuries would be very bad for the up and coming games against Chelsea and Juventus which are surely more important than the League cup! I was how ever very disappointed with his midfield selection for which there are no excuses at all. All in all the League cup is winnable for most premiership sides and some championships sides but it is the least wanted trophy and even more so with the trend of blooding youngsters and giving reserves a game.

    Gaffer is there a resson my post are not being posted?

    • The Gaffer

      September 23, 2010 at 6:56 am

      Huh, some of them are going into the ‘spam’ category, not sure why. The one you posted above went through OK. If it happens again, please e-mail me at thegaffer[at]epltalk[dot]com so I can look into it.

      The Gaffer

  4. Spiegel83

    September 23, 2010 at 1:50 am

    I’ve been following Newcastle during the Carling Cup this season. I’m new to English football so I’m not sure of the prestige or tradition of the Carling Cup. It helps me learn what Newcastle has coming through the pipeline. They look like they have a couple youngsters that may be helping out the club pretty soon

  5. Phil Sandifer

    September 22, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I actually really like the Carling Cup for the exact reasons you dislike it. Premier League squads field their youth teams. The pitch is, even in a mismatch of a game, or a game that neither manager cares much about, full of 22 players who are desperate to prove themselves. The games are often just good games. I prefer it really, to the FA Cup. In the Carling Cup, the sides are better matched – good teams go down in flames early and often. It’s a competition smaller clubs care more about than bigger ones, and that means that you get a lot of evenly matched, tight, exciting games. And by extension, you have 11 lads from Northampton who have just had the best night of their lives.

  6. leeboy

    September 22, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Football football, and on non Champions League weeks its fine. Gives the smaller teams some exposure and the chance to cause an upset which is always good even if they’re up against weaker squads than the prem teams would put out for league games

  7. boringarsenal

    September 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    My guess is that the cream of the top flight can easily ignore this maligned cup competition; Even Fergie couldn’t be bothered to show up at Glanford Park to see his club Wednesday defeat the Iron.
    The point of this competition has always been lost on this viewer; I admit watching the mid-week matches, the Arsenal were playing!
    In the old days of the Football League and it’s four divisions, this cup might have had a bit more relevance; most clubs were more evenly matched, on and off the pitch. But the Premier League has other fish to fry now, and although they participate in the League Cup, they can barely conceal their displeasure with yet, additional fixtures with little contemporary relavance.

  8. Duke

    September 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Well, I haven’t been following other teams’ line-ups, but as a Chelsea fan:

    Given the XI that started last year’s Carling Cup exit, and looking at the starting XI from today’s suckfest, I feel safe in saying that Ancelotti doesn’t give a rat’s a$$ about this competition.

    Really, Turnbull in goal tells you pretty much all you need to know.

    • UpTheBlues

      September 23, 2010 at 8:22 am

      If I could +2 the last sentence, I would.

  9. Kevin

    September 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Who doesn’t know Jonjo Shelvey? One of the best prospects in English football.

  10. VillaPark

    September 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I guess it depends on who you are asking this question. Ask a Northampton supporter tonight after they beat Liverpool. Ask Newcastle fans who suffered for the past two years until they got promoted back to the Premier League and now have the scalp of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. And if Manchester City, who aren’t playing in Europe this year feel the need to fall out of another competition so they have less games for their overloaded squad, too bad for them.

    I’m both equally excited that 6 of the remaining 16 teams are from the Championship, League 1 and League 2, while Aston Villa is still alive once again to try and make another run at a domestic cup.

    Finally, I love the way Villa approach this competition…a mix of players who can get first team experience alongside of the regular first team players. Eric Lichaj and Cieran Clark both started on defense, Barry Bannan and Brad Guzan also play key minutes, and, while they might not get into many Premier League games this season,they can slowly work there way into the first team picture in the next two years.

    And if Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool think they are too high and mighty to bother lasting in this tournament, they can kiss off.

    • The Gaffer

      September 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

      As a Swansea supporter, I’m looking forward to Saturday’s draw to find out who we’ll play in the fourth round of the Carling Cup. But if the Swans weren’t in it, I would have a passing interest in the tournament this year.

      The Gaffer

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