It’s safe to assume that a Wembley showpiece has never been less interesting to a few football club owners than Sunday’s League Cup final for Tottenham Hotspur’s Joe Lewis and Manchester City’s Sheik Mansour.
These are the individuals who sanctioned their clubs who drifted the English game and sailed to the European Super League.
So a competition that takes its name from a Thai soft drink and that, starting this season, offers qualification for Europe’s new third-ranked Conference League instead of the Europa League? Thanks but no thanks.
The timing of the Carabao Cup final couldn’t be worse for Manchester City or Tottenham
The pair were two of 12 clubs to sign up for the fateful European Super League this week
As Mauricio Pochettino once put it, “The Carabao Cup will not change our lives.”
Well, the events of the past week have told us that the perpetrators of the Super League conspiracy in Tottenham and City do not have the pomp and circumstance they imagined.
The message to Spurs’ Lewis and Daniel Levy, along with City’s Mansour, Khaldoon al-Mubarak and Ferran Soriano, is that the League Cup will be harder than ever to get in touch.
The Super League scandal has actually amplified the old fixtures and fittings of the English game.
Significantly, Tottenham and City should participate in the final as the competition has always had a special resonance with fans of both clubs.
While Pochettino stated in 2017 that the Premier League and Champions League were the two “ real trophies – that can really change your life, ” the national cups have been the ones Spurs can realistically expect to win for over a generation.
However, all six English clubs were dropped amid widespread reaction from fans and experts
The club is currently experiencing the longest drought since World War II – 13 years. The League Cup (1999, 2008) is the only trophy they have collected in the past 30 years, along with defeats in the 2002, 2009 and 2015 finals.
For those only casually interested in Sunday’s game, Jose Mourinho’s resignation on Monday has removed one of the few attractions – the Jose v Pep pantomime that has truthfully never really hit the mark in recent years.
Still, Spurs interim head coach Ryan Mason captured Friday what the opportunity means in a way Mourinho would never do.
He recalled attending the 2008 final against Chelsea when he was still an academy player. How the club arranged a few tickets for players like him, how the team left a goal, came back and how Ledley King, a former Spurs academy player just like Mason, took the trophy.
Spurs enter the showpiece with interim boss Ryan Mason, who took over from Mourinho
Mason was an academic star when Spurs last won a trophy, the 2008 edition of the tournament
The 29-year-old said he was inspired by the monumental efforts of the North Londoners
“For us as academy players, that was such an inspiring moment,” said Mason. It was magic. It was something that has inspired many of us. ‘
Spurs supporters still vividly remember the euphoria of that extra-time victory after beating Arsenal 5-1 in the semi-final.
But a year later – after Manchester United beat Harry Redknapp’s team on penalties when the 2009 final ended goalless – some also speak of running into outgoing opponents who hadn’t even waited for the trophy ceremony.
“It’s only the League Cup,” someone from the United contingent told them.
Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld, who gave their best years to the English game and won nothing, probably won’t see it that way.
The affinity for the match is the same among City supporters. The reasons are far more complex than City who are now trying to win this for the fourth consecutive year and it’s been 1,642 days on Sunday since they last lost in the league (from Manchester United, the eventual winners, in the fourth round of 2016 / 17).
Since that glorious day, Spurs have endured a 13-year sterile period without cutlery
Their 1976 win over Newcastle United at Wembley, thanks to Dennis Tueart’s legendary bicycle kick, was the last trophy they won in 35 years.
For supporters, the league represents something real and unaffected – a connection to the club they once were.
“The affection for that win over Newcastle shows how the cups were viewed at the time,” said Joe Corrigan, goalkeeper for the 1976 team.
Despite the way the game has changed, the feel for the trophy has stayed with some people. It’s been 45 years, but somehow people still remember it. ‘
A win would be a timely and symbolic reminder of a past that City passed by financially.
City boss Pep Guardiola has expressed his dissatisfaction with the Carabao Cup in the past
The Spaniard regretted the decision to schedule the game for April amid a busy series of games
Their owners in Abu Dhabi have avoided the level of shame that the owners of the US Premier League have dealt with over the Super League because they have been revered rather than loathed. They had bank credit. There is also a general sense that City was late to commit to the project, felt their hand was forced and then pulled out first.
But for many fans, this week’s events have hurt the sense that the Abu Dhabis are in a league of their own from the owners of other clubs.
Respected voices from the fan base – such as Steven Mcinerney, of the Esteemed Kompany YouTube channel, Andy Savage and the We Are 1894 group – have challenged the club’s actions. Time will tell if the long-standing banner titled ‘Manchester thanks Sheik Mansour’ will survive.
Guardiola seems to have little affection for the trophy he has won so many times.
But a cup win would lift the mood of fans disappointed with the club’s actions in the ESL
He said in January 2020 that the Carabao Cup should be canceled and had a haunted expression on Friday that the schedule is now giving him a final when he least wants it.
“We have one eye for the Champions League, one eye for playing Crystal Palace in the Premier League,” he said. “It’s a finale, but a mix of contradictions.”
Phil Foden may not think that way. It was at Oxford United in the third round of the league in 2018 that he scored his first City goal at the age of 17 – a sweet left foot in the far corner of the goal, with a hint of evasion to send it on its way .
Phil Foden stole the show in last year’s final and will try to do the same at Wembley
His man-of-the-match appearance in last year’s final against Aston Villa was his breakthrough. The opportunity for young players to make a claim is of course another of the huge advantages of the competition.
Victory for Mason could be life-changing, of course.
“Every club wants to win trophies and it is very difficult in this country,” he said. This is probably the hardest country in the world to win trophies.
‘We have been close in recent years, but unfortunately we did not get over it. We really want to cross that line. ‘