Should The League Cup Be Left To Younger Players?
September 23, 2015
Let’s face facts; the League Cup is simply not as prestigious as its older, FA alternative. This is only to be expected, as while the FA Cup originated in the 1800’s and continues to offer opportunities to non-league clubs, the League Cup can only trace its history back to the 1960’s and remains exclusive to those in the top four tiers of the football league. Despite this, both are considered as major trophies and offer an avenue into Europe for the lucky winners.
There remain some issues with the League Cup, however, particularly with regards to the fixture congestion that it contributes to. After, all France is the only other European nation that runs two domestic cup competitions concurrently and the potential fixture pile-up for clubs forces many to marginalise the League Cup as a minor priority. This is particularly true for those competing in Europe, as both the Champions and Europa League feature a large number of games throughout the season.
With so many games to play and qualification for the Champions League a dominant priority for England’s leading clubs in the modern age, we have seen a number of teams subsequently use the League Cup as a medium for blooding their most promising youth players. This is a trend that has even engulfed Premier League clubs at the bottom end of the table, as cost of relegation and the lucrative nature of England’s top flight forces clubs to prioritise survival at all costs. This is something that we have simply come to take for granted in the modern age, although it still serves as a talking point to some.
A Changing of the Tide: Are Bigger clubs now taking the League Cup more seriously?
There have been benefits to this practice, as it has enabled clubs to offer promising young players game time and help lay the foundations for a progressive career. Players such as Paul Scholes and David Beckham made their debuts in the League Cup, and gained crucial experience that shaped their futures.
Despite this, the trend appears to have turned this season, with leading clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal selecting incredibly strong squads for their recent third round encounters. This is not only a result of these clubs having strong and talented squads, but it also reflects the competitive nature of domestic football in England and the fact that no single club is dominant in the hunt for trophies.