Something that has been an issue in football for as long as I can remember is how certain managers take some competitions more seriously than others. No competition suffers from this more than the Carling Cup, with not only Wenger playing his young guns, but even teams like Blackburn choosing to play the fringe players, yet is this actually a positive thing for teams?
Say a team is on a great run of form, and the opportunity for their players to reach a cup final is within their grasp – yet the manager chooses not to play those players, instead putting out the fringe players and the team loses. A final is no longer within their sights and a chance for a trophy is lost.
Take United and their Europa League dilemma – do they play the first team and really have a go at winning the competition, or do they play the reserves for the rest of their European season? Fans will still buy tickets to watch the team – with season ticket holders having no choice in the matter – and the very least Fergie could do would be to give the competition a real go.
Yes it is understandable that teams cannot feasibly play the first eleven every game of a long season, especially if they are in Europe – it was not so long ago that Fulham had a 60 game plus season , and players would not physically be able to play such a huge amount of games – injury and burn out would be inevitable, especially if they had participated in International football that summer as well, but managers deliberately trying not to win a competition is just downright disrespectful.
Fans pay a huge sum of money for travel and tickets, not to mention they would genuinely enjoy the opportunity to win a trophy or get to a final, and by discounting competitions like the carling cup or Europa league, they are denied this. Obviously finishing as high up as possible in the league is vital, but you don’t get a trophy for that and fans don’t get that one special day and atmosphere of a cup final.
Perhaps I am alone in thinking this, but I genuinely feel that all competitions should be given a fair go, and no matter how big your club, no trophy should be looked down upon – you never know what will happen in the course of a season – if the likes of United had taken the carling cup more seriously they may have actually won a trophy this season!