Last week was my first real introduction to the League Cup. Later, this winter, I'll get to witness the FA Cup. These, to most EPL fans, are rather minor affairs. They don't sell out stadiums, and teams don't put their best XI on the pitch. Apparently, a team's goals should be EPL title, Europe, FA cup, and League cup in that order. But I'm lucky. I don't have to worry about years of disdain for the lesser tournaments. Instead, I just get to enjoy them.
And boy did I ever! Turns out these little tournaments are exciting! If you'll join me after the jump, I'll explain.
To most EPL sides, the League and FA cups are a nuisance. It's a break in incredibly important games to play a side that is often literally a league below. You can look at the way Chelsea played the young'ens to get an idea of what normally happens. I imagine things heat up quite a bit in the final few rounds, where it's mostly premiership teams, but for now I get the sense of a big "meh." There's no need to care. If a team gets some silver, that's great. If not, there are other goals to acheive.
But for the non premiership squads, or those that are in the bottom half of the league and can't hope for other silverware, these games mean a whole lot more. And I like that attitude significantly better. Why would we, as fans, ever want our team to do anything but their best to get trophies? And why would we want anything but the best soccer to watch? The League Cup gives us both!
It actually strikes me as being a bit like March Madness here in the states. Tons of teams enter, one of the favored ones usually wins, and you get some great Cinderella stories. Take a look at Northampton Town. They're in what is this Cup's Sweet Sixteen. Last year, they placed 11th.
In League Two.
Let that sink in for a moment. In theory, that means there are 78 teams in England who are better than Northampton Town. And yet they've secured themselves a spot in the final 16 of a nearly-nationwide tournament. That's AMAZING! How are we all not more excited by this? And it can happen, at a larger more "what the heck is happening" level in the FA Cup. Just ask these guys. So yeah, I'm hooked. It's amazing.
The next round looks totally winnable for Villa and then it's a short three wins (well, two and an aggregate over two legs. That part is weird.) to some silverware. And in January, we start the FA cup. There's something incredible about a tournament that, in theory, anybody can win. Maybe I'll become jaded at some point, but for now, I've got cup fever.