Carling Cup XI

Winning the League Cup used to be a big deal

It’s a shame but the League Cup is not what it used to be. With the money the money on offer in the Premier League and in Europe, the Carling Cup is all about squad rotation. The likes of Spurs will have one eye on the Europa League while the Wigan Athletics of this world will be glad to be out of the competition so they can focus on maintaining their Premier League status. Sir Alex and Arsene have been playing the kids for years in the League Cup, while Manchester City and Chelsea have the squads to play their pretty strong weakened teams as well. Even the teams at the top end of the Championship with a chance of League Cup success aren’t really interested since they’re vying for promotion to the Promised Land. Gus Poyet and Brighton fans would have enjoyed beating Liverpool but you can say with relative certainty that they’d all swap it in a second for three points against Leeds on Friday. The FA Cup seems to be going the same way. The average sides think, ‘we can’t win it, so we might as well exit early and concentrate on the league’, while the strong teams will often prefer to focus on the more important league and European fixtures. Either way, the domestic cups become a distraction. The attendances say it all.

Still, come February, the day trippers will not be denied. Whether it’s United winning it again or Bolton or Wolves looking to claim a rare glory, 90,000 will pack into Wembley Stadium and enjoy the day out. Not many of them will have been to ┬áthe Bescott or Oakwell on a miserable Tuesday night in September. Still, while most can’t be bothered with the early stages of the competition, why shouldn’t they cash in on the glory at the end? And the same goes for the players. Rooney and Aguero didn’t play in this round but they shouldn’t be prevented from milking the glory when the competition gets serious should they?

Here are a few lads who probably won’t get many Premier League minutes this season, but in these days of squad rotation, they could well end up as Carling Cup heroes…

These players could become key cogs in the Carling Cup wheel