To be honest I’ll admit from the outset that I couldn’t give a monkeys about this for now. In fact I had to be reminded this morning we were even playing. It has fallen down the priorities so much coupled with the fact we’ve not done anything much in this competition for so long that you just don’t contemplate a run.
That said, should we make it past and through a very tricky game tonight away at Burnley, then suddenly the realms of possibility open up. Obviously at this stage I will direct your attention at Bradford City. Bradford who of course were last years (heavily beaten) finalists. The journey and success of that run though will live long in many a fans consciousness; it is a League 2 team (at the time) on a fairytale story. It wouldn’t quite ring in the same way for us, but that said, it could add a gloriously nice touch to the season.
I assume we will ring the changes again tonight, Collins, Moussi, Lascelles, Jara, Miller and Tudgay and their ilk may well be implement, especially with the big derby with Derby looming. But writing this, and also considering what most people I speak to and immediate friends feeling are, this is all irrelevant. Irrelevant till we draw a big team, or make it to latter stages and then suddenly it’s all too relevant. Then we do care. Then the League Cup is a glorious opportunity to show what we can do, and (whisper it) a chance of glory or at least Europe.
That is making huge leaps of imagination, but let’s face it, half the teams in it think this is an annoyance and wield ‘B’ sides and exit the competition with a whimper. So by the time anyone takes it serious from the last 16 or 8, then a lot of teams have disappeared who may have been a risk.
That starts to ask the question well do you go for it, and try and get success. Well, the likelihood of finally winning the thing are remote, and so the weighing up of the benefits of a successful run versus potential injuries to key players keep the idea of resting players and using fringe players as a core idea. Why jeopardise the season’s main aim for a slim chance of success. The financial rewards of being in the Premiership far outweigh the benefits of a good cup run, an even winning the thing (even if it meant European football) and as I said, if we got so far as to take it seriously, as those other teams getting that start taking it seriously too.
However, in reaching Wembley as a gloriously huge underdog, Bradford had experience of the stadium; they had a chance to get that sense of being over awed out the system before their Lord Mayors show that was the playoff final. For them it had an air of familiarity, and rather than let Wembley over shadow them, instead they’d been there, bought the t-shirt, the novelty hat and the overprice hotdog. They won in the playoffs. I’m not suggesting that we focus on this competition as a vain hope to use Wembley failure as a springboard to playoff success. There are far too many other aspects to consider before that, but it is something else to even think about.
Winning causes morale to increase and increased morale increases peoples belief. Players feel better. So to try and cultivate a little success might do wonders. I just won’t be there to enjoy it until it gets interesting.