Darren Gough: Carabao Cup catastrophe is huge turnoff for football punters

A view of the empty stand during the Carabao Cup, second round match at Hillsborough (Picture: PA)
A view of the empty stand during the Carabao Cup, second round match at Hillsborough (Picture: PA)
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MOST football fans would happily love to watch the game being played on TV every day of the week and let’s face it, we all have an affection for it, don’t we?

But then there’s the Carabao Cup.

Ggeneral view of an empty stand during the Carabao Cup, second round match at the Bet365 Stadium, Stoke. Everton were the exception to the rule on Wednesday as fans largely continued to turn off from the Carabao Cup second round. (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

Ggeneral view of an empty stand during the Carabao Cup, second round match at the Bet365 Stadium, Stoke. Everton were the exception to the rule on Wednesday as fans largely continued to turn off from the Carabao Cup second round. (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

The number of clubs fielding weakened teams is just incredible and what we are seeing now is that it is becoming a competition for those who have the deepest squads and those who have the better ‘second-choice’ players. It is becoming a competition that is not worth watching.

In 11 of the last 13 years, the competition has been won by a club in the top six; whether that be the Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool, who have ALL dominated.

Only five teams out of the last 32 semi-finalists in the competition in its various guises have been from below the top-flight.

Bristol City may have got to the semi-final last year, but it was a rarity. Now most clubs in the Championship and the Premier League are just making mass changes.

You saw that this week with the games involving the Yorkshire teams. Sheffield Wednesday changed an entire starting line-up, while Middlesbrough made ten changes. Leeds United made nine, as did Hull City and Rotherham United.

Darren Gough

Anyone wanting further evidence of that should just look at the statistics from the second round this week.

You saw that this week with the games involving the Yorkshire teams. Sheffield Wednesday changed an entire starting line-up, while Middlesbrough made ten changes. Leeds United made nine, as did Hull City and Rotherham United. Even further down, teams are making a raft of changes.

Fleetwood Town made 11 for their game at Leicester. Aston Villa, five-times League Cup winners, played a weakened team at Burton.

West Ham played a slightly weakened team at Wimbledon and only just sneaked though. Then, you look at the likes of Huddersfield Town and Cardiff.

For them to be in the Premier League is amazing in itself, but are they good enough to make eight, nine or ten changes and expect to compete against teams? I would say no.

It is disappointing that these teams do this and it is almost kidding the fans.

Looking at some of these teams put out, unless you were a fan of the club, you would not know who they were!

Many were made up of fringe and youth-team players who are just given a chance.

Ok, there can be some good stories.

Simon Grayson’s son Joe made his debut for Blackburn this week, for instance.

But the question is what is the way to revitalise the competition. Is a place in the Europa League realistically a good enough thing to reward the winners? The top six are usually winning it anyway.

Should you make it for non-Premier League teams, with a special reward? Maybe a big financial prize or Europa League qualification.

When you look at the Europa League, why would a Championship club look out of place? Especially with some of the rubbish which gets in there.

Premier League teams just play their second teams in the League Cup now.

Even the FA Cup is moving that way now.

There is even any argument to get rid of two cups and knock it down to one in the current climate.

It certainly cannot be right that Championship and even League One clubs are playing weakened teams in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup.

At the end of the day, there is a trophy at the end of it.

But events now just goes to show that many teams are more interested in the financial gain of possibly getting to the play-offs and being promoted than winning a trophy.

Speak to Swansea and Birmingham fans, whose clubs both lifted the League Cup not too long ago.

They will all tell you that they were over the moon with their successes and they would not have swapped those occasions for the world. Whether it meant getting relegated, it happened to Birmingham, but their fans still talk about that special day at Wembley now in 2011.

For Swansea fans, they will always remember their own magic memory in 2013.