‘What’s the point of the Carabao/League/EFL/Coca-Cola/Carling/Milk/Bread cup?’ Well, that is often a question put out there by people in the media and particularly supporters/coaches of the teams in the Premier League’s top six.
The general view is that the competition is a bit of a waste of time that serves nothing more than to tire out their players. And while it’s nice to go to Wembley and win a trophy, it’s not the same as the other trophies and it really should be abolished. Well, friends, I’m here to tell you why those people are gravely wrong and why the Carabao Cup haters belong in Room 433.
Most teams through the football league very rarely get the chance to win a piece of major silverware – and as nice as the Check-a-Trade Trophy is, it is really not a huge deal. So the Carabao Cup offers the most realistic chance of winning a trophy that actually means something. Admittedly, I am slightly biased over this. My club, Middlesbrough, won the then Carling Cup in 2004 and it is pretty much the greatest day in the club’s history. It would’ve been a terrific day for losing finalists Bolton Wanderers too so it would be a crying shame to get rid of these big occasions.
Now, to appeal to the big clubs and their fans the Carabao Cup can be an excellent place to develop young players. Games against other top academies are all well and good but a player like Phil Foden will learn a lot more from a hard physical battle against someone like Blackburn or Preston than tearing Manchester United‘s reserves to pieces. Young players can really gain some genuine first team experience from fixtures in the Carabao Cup – and it keeps fringe players involved. Chances are your fourth choice centre-back is rarely going to be called upon in the league but can gain some crucial minutes in the Carabao Cup.
The claims that it ‘tires players out’ can be admonished too now, with extra time rightly eliminated in favour of a straight to penalties format. Premier League clubs, with all the money they have, should be able to cope with midweek games, Football League clubs already do. So stop the whining about squad depth and enjoy the opportunity to win another trophy with a decent bit of history behind it.
So that’s the Carabao Cup haters locked away and I’m pretty sure I’ve proved that it is the most prestigious of all tournaments. Again, nothing to do with my Middlesbrough bias. Absolutely nothing. Please do check out some other entries into Room 433, such as this one about weird media narratives.