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Will the Carabao Cup be scrapped?

16:00 GMT 07/02/2020
Jurgen Klopp Carabao Cup
Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have been vocal about the extra strain competitions like the Carabao Cup have on their players, but will it be axed?

English football's congested fixture schedule is a consistent source of discussion, owing to the prominence of two major knockout tournaments - the FA Cup and Carabao Cup - in addition to the demands of league and European competitions.

With the FA Cup having the reputation as England's premier cup competition, the Carabao Cup - or League Cup - has been viewed with less importance, with coaches routinely prioritising the likes of the Champions League or Premier League.

But with a number of managers complaining about the burden of the Carabao Cup on their players, will it be ditched?

Are there plans to scrap the Carabao Cup?

There are currently no plans to discard the Carabao Cup, but there have been recent major changes to the structure of the competition which allow for fewer games to be played.

The two-legged semi-finals have been criticised by football figures, but the EFL have stated that there are no measures to make them single winner-takes-all ties.

Managers such as Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp have called for replays to be ditched entirely, with Klopp stating: "At the end of January, after a very busy schedule in December, there are two semi-finals. It's an easy decision for me to say if you keep that competition then why don't you make just two semi-finals?"

 

The EFL has, however, abandoned extra-time in the semi-finals, allowing the game to go straight into penalties should the score be level at the end of full-time in the second leg.

An EFL spokesman said: “Whilst the matter of two-legged semi-finals in the Carabao Cup is not specifically under discussion, the wider subject of fixture scheduling and congestion is constantly under review and the EFL remains in regular dialogue with our partners across football on this complex, challenging and ever evolving landscape.”

Additionally, it should be noted that concerns regarding fatigue and over-exertion of teams participating in both the Club World Cup and the Carabao Cup in December will soon be made redundant, with the Club World Cup set to be moved from December to the summer starting in 2021.

Why do some managers want to scrap the Carabao Cup?

The rigorous demands of the Premier League, European competition and domestic cup competitions have led certain top-flight managers to the conclusion that their players are over-exerted.

Premier League managers such as Klopp and Guardiola have regularly put concerns about the fitness of their squad first, criticising the busy fixture schedule that they feel places too much demand on their teams.

Klopp has been a vocal critic of the English football schedule for many seasons. The German became especially frustrated in 2019-20 after Liverpool defeated Arsenal in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, earning them a tie against Aston Villa – which was to be played a day before Liverpool's Club World Cup game against Monterrey in Qatar.

He ended up fielding two different teams; his senior side travelled to Qatar, while the second-string side were bashed 5-0 by Aston Villa.

Guardiola has called for some competitions to be axed altogether in an effort to reduce his players' workload.

"Eliminate competitions. Take them out completely - so less games," the City manager said.

"Less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. The people are going enjoy it. The people are going to go to the theatre, to the cinema, restaurants, to watch the fireworks. That is what they would do.

"It's just to protect the players… For them they'd enjoy it more, the people too. People say they can't live without football, they can live without football for a while. It's too much, honestly."

However, it's not just the Carabao Cup that Klopp has grievances about.

The German blasted Liverpool's busy winter schedule, which saw them play in five competitions, including the FA Cup, across the festive period. They averaged a game every three days.

Klopp infamously "snubbed" the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury Town when he announced that Liverpool's first-team players would not feature in the game. Instead, he insisted that Under-23 coach Neil Critchley would take charge instead and field a team of mainly reserve players to allow his first-string players a brief holiday.

The German's annoyance stemmed from the fact that the FA had scheduled the replay to take place during the week of February 3, which had been meant to be reserved for a winter break for Premier League players.

“You cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it. I know that it's not very popular but that's the way I see it," Klopp told the BBC.

“The Premier League asked us to respect the winter break. That's what we do. If the FA doesn't respect that, then we cannot change it. We will not be there."

Naturally, Klopp's comments prompted a reaction from the football world, with many expressing the view that the German was "disrespecting" the cup. Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt went as far as calling Klopp "a disgrace".

"I'll never understand why top clubs and top Premier League players don't stand up and stay united with clubs and players further down the pyramid," Holt said. 

"This is pure selfishness of the highest degree."