When United won the League Cup last season, there were lots of jibes over us taking pride in something we had called the “Worthless Cup” for so many seasons. Fair play. The League Cup has been for United what it has been for all top clubs, the last priority. The nickname came around when it was sponsored by Worthington, and if rival fans want to take it quite literally, that we felt it was entirely worthless, and it would be just as worthwhile to win it as to not win it, then again, fair play. For me, once we knew winning the league was out of reach, I was determined for us to finish second. That was the most important thing for me. After finishing third two seasons in a row and having to qualify for Europe (especially considering it was those qualifying games that left us without Heinze for the whole season) I wanted some credibility to be brought back to United last season, and that’s what happened when we finished the season runners up. The Carling Cup was a nice bonus, something to put in the trophy cabinet, and still last priority, but better than nothing.
Last night when a pretty average United side got knocked out of the Carling Cup, it has left open the opportunity for the same criticism to come of United. They rested most of their first XI, and now they’re out of the only competition they won last season. We could be accused of taking it too lightly again, and I wouldn’t be too sure that this criticism isn’t warranted.
However, I figured it only made sense to check out United’s recent history in the “Worthless Cup”, just to see how much justification there was behind people giving us stick over our treatment of the Cup. If we go back to 1990, United have been in the final five times out of those sixteen years, winning it two of those times. That puts United as the team featuring in the League Cup final more times than anyone else in that time. A time period where we were competing heavily for the league, in Europe and FA Cup, our most successful period in the club’s history. A time period where United were said to have shunned the cup, because Fergie preferred to give our youngsters experience. If giving the youngsters experience in the cup hadn’t paid off, maybe there would be further weight to the criticism, however considering that youth went on to form one of the greatest sides English football has seen, Ferguson has to be applauded for his choice of teams in competition.
1990-1991 Wednesday 1 United 0
1991-1992 United 1 Forest 0
1992 -1993 Arsenal 2 Wednesday 1
1993-1994 Villa 3 United 1
1994-1995 Liverpool 2 Bolton 1
1995-1996 Villa 3 Leeds 0
1996-1997 Leicester 1 Middlesborough 0
1997-1998 Chelsea 2 Middlesborough 0
1998-1999 Spurs 1 Leicester 0
1999-2000 Leicester 2 Tranmere 1
2000-2001 Liverpool 1 Birmingham 1 (Liverpool on pens)
2001-2002 Blackburn 2 Spurs 1
2002-2003 Liverpool 2 United 0
2003-2004 Middlesborough 2 Bolton 1
2004-2005 Chelsea 3 Liverpool 2
2005-2006 United 4 Wigan 0
Now this isn’t a post to say that United really value the League Cup, because they don’t. It isn’t a post to say I’m gutted we got knocked out last night, because I’m not. I’d rather us win it than not win it, but in a season that promises more than any has for a few years, we shouldn’t be looking out for consolation trophies like this. But all the bullshit about United and the League Cup should finally be laid to rest.
Onwards and upwards for United, we have bigger fish to fry. Despite Blackburn’s less than great start to the season, Ewood Park is rarely a happy place for United to go. This is followed by Sheffield United away, and then up to Celtic Park a few days later. This of course is all in the lead up to the big one, Chelsea. We beat two top four teams last week with ease, but I don’t think we can kid ourselves in to thinking the next fortnight will be plain sailing.
Congratulations to Southend. If they were good enough to beat us, then my money is definitely on them lifting the trophy anyway 😀
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