In an interview with BBC 5 Live last night, via The Telegraph, Jose Mourinho reflected on his side’s dominant victory over Burton Albion, reserving special praise for Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard who had all been excellent in the 4-1 win.
But when asked about the value of the Carabao Cup, his comments were enlightening:
“You know, if the competition is an official competition, it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager and I want the players to think the same way.”
“If you ask me could English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe.”
Burton Albion came to Old Trafford with a much changed side from the one that had defeated Fulham at the weekend.
It reflected manager Nigel Clough’s view that United were unlikely to be defeated, but also that the League Cup is not worth the risk of fielding his best team. The rewards are just not tempting enough.
The indifference of fans towards the competition was evident last night too, with stadiums barely half filled and with an atmosphere more befitting a preseason friendly than a cup tie.
The prize money for winning this year’s EFL Cup stands at a paltry £100,000.
This would cover just a little over a third of Paul Pogba’s weekly wage. For clubs competing in Europe, the EFL Cup is just adding more fixtures to an already demanding schedule.
There is enormous pressure on the top managers in the league to deliver silverware. But the EFL Cup would not even offer them a consolation prize if it were not accompanied by another title.
For Jurgen Klopp, Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte, winning or not winning the Carabao Cup is inconsequential.
Even sponsors appear to be reticent in their support for the tournament. Carabao is the latest company to put their name to it and in the competitions history there have been a total of nine different sponsors.
Not to mention the fact that last year’s EFL Cup went entirely without a sponsor.
Sometimes in football, less is more and discontinuing the EFL Cup would make a lot of sense. The FA Cup, which has seen its own influence on the wane, might regain some of its former glory as the solitary English cup competition.
With the EFL Cup eliminated from the equation, the Premier League could transfer one Champions League spot to the winners of the FA Cup.
This would leave the top three sides in the Premier League with automatic qualification to the Champions League group stages, with the FA Cup winners entering at the qualifier stage. Fourth and fifth-placed league positions would have Europa League as would the runners up in the FA Cup.
To have a strong Premier League and FA Cup would surely be preferable to having one good competition and two uninteresting ones.
Kevin Boyle, Pundit Arena