The GoatyGav Column
It’s a subject that I’ve spent quite some time discussing on WHTID over the years but one that I still believe is current, relevant and very important. How much importance should the Cups, and more specifically the League (Carabao) Cup, be given by Pellegrini and the team?
When you trace Tottingham’s rise as a team you can almost pinpoint their League Cup victory as a turning point in their progression to a regular top four side. Some may argue that’s not true and that their side started to move up the pecking order a number of seasons after lifting the ‘Carling Cup’, as the competition was known in 2007-08, but, for me, they, notably, grew in squad strength from that point forward.
Although not in the League Cup Chelsea also had a ‘crossing of the Rubicon’ moment after they won the F.A. Cup in 1996-97, following up that victory with League Cup honours the following season and going on to attract investment from Mr Abramovic.
At present our squad is stronger to the point where we’re able to field strong starting line-ups while giving some senior players a rest. In past seasons I wouldn’t have said this was true. The risk of losing senior players in the early rounds was bigger due to the fact that we’d already racked up a lengthy injury list to a squad that had less depth.
Outside of the progression of the club there’s also the kudos and excitement, in my mind, of playing under the floodlights in European competition. I don’t care what they say about the Europa League I love being involved in it. Childhood memories of sitting by the radio listening to West Ham’s Cup Winner’s Cup exploits still gives me butterflies and goose pimples. I want that feeling again and a League Cup win would deliver it.
It’s not like a Cup win would be a pipe-dream either. With so many of the top six clubs fielding weaker sides in the earlier rounds a good cup run for any other Premier League side would be a distinct reality should that team decide to prioritise a set competition. Get to the Semi-Final and, who knows, we could go all the way.
At present we have a manager who has given West Ham increased pulling power with respects prospective players. This would be greatly enhanced should the OS/LS/London Bowl (I look forward to the day the naming rights are sold for a set period of time and we can settle on calling it one name) play host to teams in Europe.
The League Cup, barring the Wartime League Cup which I’m not sure counts, is a competition that West Ham have never won. I’d like to see that put right. Now I’m, by no means, suggesting that the League Cup is in any way a bigger or better competition than the F.A. Cup however there are, by comparison, some advantages for the lesser domestic competition. Firstly you play less rounds to get to a final. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a League Cup win can be less detrimental to a season than it’s more illustrious and historical alternative. To reach an F.A. Cup final you have to keep producing over the course of, almost, an entire season. This season’s League Cup is over on the 1st March, 2020. The oft described ‘distraction’ can be out of the way at an earlier stage allowing focus to be placed back on League form. In fact a win in the first major domestic competition of the season has often proven a huge boost to team confidence.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d sooner be sat here this time next year with another F.A. Cup win than with League Cup honours however, insofar as priorities are concerned, I really want us to be gunning for a great run – starting with Oxford United away on the 24th September.
Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!