The top English clubs battle each week of the season in hopes of lifting the Premier League title. But there’s one period throughout the season that is jam packed. As the festive fixtures kick-off, managers are truly tested during the most intensive two weeks of the year.
Clubs rise and fall around Christmas, as some teams play four matches in a ten or 11- day period. The English League Cup is one of those extra fixtures teams participate in, providing them with a chance to add another trophy to their collection.
The success of a season is based on winning as much as possible. However, the League Cup trophy is one many teams can do without. Most managers focus on lifting the Premier League and Champions League titles, while only a few even care about the League Cup.
The Premier League offers fans a place to watch arguably the greatest soccer in the world, with supporters gravitating to their televisions for league matches. However, the same fans are not running to watch the English League Cup.
Lifting the League Cup had some meaning decades ago, but today it appears to have lost its value. Although it’s a cup competition, it continues to be overshadowed by the FA Cup, one which is far more prestigious. So why is it even necessary to have both competitions?
Most of the top leagues in Europe participate in only one league competition, as seen in Spain whose teams play in the Copa del Rey, in Germany the DFB Pokal, and Italy it’s the Coppa Italia. It’s an argument top players and managers have made in recent years as teams struggle to keep their players fit throughout the rigorous season. England should follow the other elite European countries who play in just one cup every season and keep up with modern day soccer.
But so far they haven’t.
One of the greatest challenges for Premier League teams is the exuberant number of matches they play each season. The extra competition forces top teams to rest their stars, and instead play their youngsters. Teams are stretched too thin and forced to provide a weaker side.
For many of the top teams fighting amongst the best clubs in Europe, the League Cup becomes a distraction in their quest for European glory. English teams are outshined in the Champions League due to the excess number of fixtures and the lack of rest during the Christmas period. While all of the other top leagues have a break, the Premier League teams are playing extra matches, which cripples them later in the season.
The physical demand of the sport is a major concern as injuries are evident due to the excess number of matches. The lack of rest teams have is a serious concern in England and also leads to season-ending injuries.
It seems like the risk isn’t worth the reward as the winner gets very little out of the League Cup. The champions take home £100,000 ($131,000) in prize money which is considered relatively insignificant to top-flight teams. This is quite minimal compared to the FA Cup winner, who earns £2 ($2.6) million.
The Premier League’s so-called ‘Big Six’ refers to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. We continuously see these teams dominating the competition, leaving little hope for the lower-tier clubs. The ‘Big Six’ teams have won 11 of the last 13 years of the competition, proving once again that money and depth ultimately win the League Cup.
Even with the top teams winning, most people struggle to remember the previous winners. It’s a competition which takes a new name every few years, and one not worthy of remembering.
It’s time for England to move forward and squash the League Cup. The Premier League as a whole would benefit greatly and players and teams will be far better off if they scrap this competition.