So tonight in the Carling Cup it’s Crewe. A club that we’ve had a quite a close relationship with over the years through transfers. I think we played our reserve games at their ground a few years back?
I don’t know how Rafa will play this but odds are that he will, in the light of this weekend’s forthcoming Derby match, make sweeping changes throughout the side. From Diego Cavalieri in goal, to David Ngog up front. I’m not really blaming Rafa as he has plenty of company in this respect, but surely such behaviour with eventually prompt the powers that be will to look closely at the current format of the Carling Cup? Are Carling 100% happy with the situation, at the moment it is like their main product, a bit weak! Will other sponsors, if the competition remains unchanged, be prepared to invest should they decide not to renew?
Even though it appears to be the accepted norm to field under strength sides in the early stages of the competition, and some cases right through to the final, there is still something that rankles with me about this. I hope this doesn’t sound elitist but I accept the big four have a crowded domestic and European fixture list and will want to save their top players. I also accept the need to give squad players, particularly the younger ones valuable first team experience. However, what I don’t understand why the likes of Hull and Bolton make wholesale changes to their teams as they did in the previous round citing resting players for Saturday as the reason? They will argue that they can do what they like but surely there is something wrong if weakened sides are being fielded when the only other competition they are involved in at this stage of the season is the league? This seems especially puzzling when there is decent chance, because of the bigger clubs selection policy, of winning the thing! Is the Premiership the be all and end all of everything? Should the chance of winning silverware be sacrificed for seventeenth place and survival? If so then something is wrong somewhere?
The FA have looked at congestion and given those clubs involved in Europe a bye from the first round. However, the fielding of watered down sides still goes on ripping off the fans, how would you feel if you’d paid top whack only to see a team of predominantly reserve players? Clearly the Carling Cup is need of a boost. In a previous blog I suggested that it could be held before Christmas? As it is the competition in its current position gets submerged by Premiership, FA Cup and European priorities. Even the prospect of a UEFA cup place for the winners doesn’t seem to be a big enough incentive? Sad times indeed. It needs a radical revamp, a shot in the arm but no one seems to want to do anything or lacks the inspiration to try. It’s almost like they are accepting the inevitable and letting the competition die slowly.
Meanwhile, like Nick Faldo, the players have been showing appropriate angst and regret over this weekend. Steven Gerrard described the points we dropped as “stupid”. I would venture to suggest these points were far from stupid they were lovely and precious points that needed to be respected and, above all, owned!
Albert Riera said
“We lost two points on Saturday and we’ll see what the other teams do, but it’s okay – where we are at the end is when we have to be judged.”
And if we are finish second, two points behind the leader, will this result still be “okay”? Dirk Kuyt rued the missed chances
“We had enough chances – I had a few myself.”
After Saturday I’m pretty sure the fans had “a few” too!