League Cup puts FA Cup in the shade
Published: 19.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
One consequence of the thrilling entertainment in England this week in the League Cup is the influence it may have on the FA Cup.
Traditionally the bigger of the two cup competitions in England, it has lost much of its prestige in recent years, and it would seem, some of the entertainment too.
Because of the lack of pressure in the Carling Cup, where teams are at liberty for the most part to be able to play weaker sides, the open games that result from that make the competition particularly entertaining. That was perfectly shown at Reading on Tuesday, when they went 4-0 up against Arsenal, only to lose 7-5. It was a remarkable game, and one of such unbelievable drama that few games could really live up to. Similarly, Chelsea and Manchester United did their best to out do them on Wednesday, playing out a thrilling 5-4 game in favour of the Londoners.
So this all raises one big question. If the League Cup is the most entertaining of the two domestic cups, but most teams would rather win the league or have a long run in Europe, then what of the FA Cup?
It has lost so much of its prestige and now it seems as though it is going further down the pan. It has the unfortunate role of being the cup for the second half of the season, when Europe is at its most entertaining with the Champions League. Teams therefore are more inclined to rest their players and avoid progress in that competition to preserve themselves than they are in the opening stages of the campaign. So the timing is all wrong.
The FA Cup now needs to be revamped if it is to be saved. Once the greatest cup competition in the world, now it is just another trophy. It is not even the most thrilling of Europe’s cups. The Spanish Cup is taken more seriously by their teams than the FA Cup is by the English, similarly the Coppa Italia and Bundesliga. And in France upsets with lower league sides and non professional teams causing surprises are far more commonplace.
There could be some changes made to save the competition. Merge it with the League Cup, or abandon the League Cup in its entirety for a start. Second, make it start earlier in the season when bigger teams may be more interested. That is what happens in other countries, where the top teams will be involved in the main cup already, with the early rounds being played in the opening months of the season. Spain have the novel and clever idea of playing cup games whilst the Champions League is on its winter break. England could easily do the same thing.
Traditionalists would abhor the changes, but the alternative seems worse – allowing the cup to become increasingly degraded to a fourth rate level. If something is not done and fast to save the FA Cup from its slow decline, then it will be a competition that ceases to lose all that is special about it.