Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The English League Cup. Not particularly English.


Written by Brad Smith

Like it or not, the English League Cup, or Carling Cup as it is now known, is not considered a major trophy by some managers, with Arsene Wenger relaying to the press last year that, "winning it would not end his trophy drought". Although Alex Ferguson said it was a trophy "worth winning". So is a game of rock, paper, scissors, Sir Alex.

Also, if you look at statistics from the Premier League last season, you will find less than 35% of the players who were used were English. Which isn't a lot. Fair enough, the FA did try and introduce a rule, that in each clubs 25 man squad, they must name 8 "home grown" players. Though that rule had so many leaks and transparency, if you had been to London and could spell tea, you were almost there.

I like the idea, and I think it could work, but not in this present way. You have a lot of the lower Premier League teams having a higher percentage of at least British players, but as you go up the league, with the exception of Tottenham, and possibly Liverpool, there are less and less.

If you take these two problems, the ageing and overlooked Carling Cup, and the lack of English/British players, and I think the FA have a great opportunity. The Carling Cup, Worthington Cup, FlyBe Bet365 CompareTheMarket Cup, whatever name brings in the most money, the original name is often overlooked. The English League Cup.

Why not use this competition the one to blood the youngsters and the British into and improve the English game? With the current squad for the cup at 18, 7 substitutes, if you introduced a rule where say 10, or 12 of the 18 players had to be British or Irish. Is sounds like a large amount, but this isn't the Premier League, and considering most of the top clubs are turning their noses up at the cup anyway, I think this could seriously work, and would be some sort of reward for the teams with the best English/British players.

There is one more problem with this however, as what constitutes a British player now? Personally, I would suggest that instead of changing country like their underwear between age groups, say at the age of 18, players should have to declare which country they want to represent, as I believe we would find alot more players wanting to play for the country they are best socially connected too, and feel more towards, than the one they have more chance of representing.

You look at players like Carlo Cudicini, and Mikel Arteta, that because of their national teams overflowing with stars, they are talked about to represent England. But, call me old-fashioned, call me what ever you want, although these are top class players, I wouldn't want them pulling on an England shirt just as much as I don't fancy bleating out the German national anthem.

Of course, this is only my view of attempting to spice up the League Cup, and improving the English game, and in no way would this prevent us exiting major competitions early, on penalties at the hands of a rival country. I do have an idea for this though, introducing the penalty shootout to the national curriculum aged 7, heavily supervised by German teachers, until they are the age where they can decide their own career, whether that be a penalty taker for England, or a goalkeeper for England.

Then we would moan we had too much choice.