As Tottenham get their League (Carabao) Cup campaign underway tomorrow with a game against Barnsley at Wembley, I have seen mostly the same thoughts shared by a lot of people on Social Media about the game and competition in general; he’ll play the kids and fringe players, giving the more senior guys a rest for the weekend game away to West Ham.
But, should he be taking the League Cup more seriously this season, with it being an excellent opportunity for the club to win some badly needed silverware?
The last few seasons have seen Pochettino transform the club from a top 6 side with an outside chance of top 4 qualification in to title contenders, playing a breathtaking brand of football with a core of home grown players that is being looked upon enviously by the rest of Europe and the World. However, despite all the accolades which have come the clubs way recently, the cherry is still missing from the top of the cake – trophies. To really cement this current side as one of the best anywhere in Europe, the players (and manager) need to start backing up the talent and potential with titles.
With the two Manchester Clubs strengthening significantly over the summer and getting off to excellent starts in the Premier League, it can be argued that the winner of this year’s league title will come from one of those two Manchester sides. That leaves the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup to play for.
The group stage draw of the Champions League has seen Spurs drawn against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund – two of Europe’s heavyweights, and it will be incredibly difficult to 1) get out of the group and 2) go all the way and win the trophy. The first game of the group stage saw Spurs blow Dortmund away at Wembley to secure a precious 3 points, but a monumental effort will be needed to go all the way and land the ultimate prize. On their day, the current crop of Spurs players are capable of it, but being realistic, domestic success is far more likely.
That leaves two competitions – the FA Cup and League Cup. Some journalists from various different newspapers have named Spurs as their tip to win the tournaments and when you look at it from a neutral point of view, it makes sense, given the playing squad we currently have. The FA Cup – a competition which holds so much meaning to people at Spurs, given the clubs rich history in previous years – is one trophy which as a fan I would love us to win – the semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season was a defeat which hurt badly, given the confidence we had going in to that game thanks to our league form.
The League cup is the tournament which most, if not all, Premier League managers see as the lowest priority competition out of everything available to play for during the season. Every year, the sight of youth team players getting a call up to the first team in front of half empty stadiums against lower league opposition is a common sight, with the stronger sides eventually pulling clear and making the final which is played in February. Despite all of this, it’s still a trophy which holds merit and value amongst some sections of the media and fans in England and the day out at Wembley infront of 90,000 fans in the final makes it worth winning if you make the effort.
The game against Barnsley tomorrow will see the lowest crowd of the season attend Wembley. Players such as N’Koudou, Winks, Foyth and Walker-Peters are all certain to start, with Kane, Alli, Eriksen and other senior members of the squad expected to be given a rest.
Pochettino has a decision to make – does he make a real effort to win the competition this year, or does he turn his attentions elsewhere in the hope we make a real challenge for the League and/or FA Cup, or try and go as far in the Champions League as possible?
For me, the League Cup is merely a competition to send out the kids and fringe squad, giving players like Foyth a great opportunity to experience their first taste of English competitive Football, further helping them settle in to the club and squad.
It goes without saying that winning a competition of any sort is always desirable, but Spurs are currently at a point in their progression where there are bigger fish to fry and must focus on winning one of the big titles, before players decide to try and win them elsewhere.