It may not have the FA Cup’s history, but the League Cup is starting to conjure up the same excitement for many of football’s minnows.
The fact that the bigger sides do not typically take the competition seriously has seen it dismissed as a ‘Mickey Mouse’ trophy, with pundits and fans alike also bemoaning the lack of importance placed on the FA Cup due to the high demands of competing in the league, and, for some clubs, the Champions League or Europa League.
However, this has opened up a niche market for the Capital One Cup, formerly known as the Carling Cup and, prior to that, the Worthington Cup.
If you take a look at some of its winners over the last fifteen years, they include Birmingham, Swansea, Leicester and Middlesbrough and have featured some heroic cup runs by the likes of Bradford and Wigan who both made it all the way to the final.
It has also provided moments of hope during trophy famines for some of England’s more prestigious sides, such as Tottenham and Liverpool, who lifted the trophy in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
The competition may have only started in 1961 and does not have the worldwide reputation of its domestic rival, but ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ may soon have to be reattributed while the Capital One Cup continues to flood with giant-killings and upsets.
Birmingham stormed to victory in 2011 – incidentally the year they were relegated from the Premier League – by beating Arsenal 2-1, while Blackburn grabbed glory from Spurs in 2002.
The shorter length of the league cup means a cup run is a much more plausible possibility for clubs with smaller squads as they struggle to compete on a number of fronts as the gulf in class between the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup becomes ever smaller.
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