Sunday was a big day for the big screen. Both the Carling Cup final and The Oscars were watched by millions around the world, but I think who could most have done with a big screen was Sunday’s referee and his assistant Ron Ganfield. A shocking offside decision, Keys and Gray take note – even Sian Massey would have called that correctly, saved Arsene’s and Szczesny’s blushes further in the Carling Cup.
This, once again, raises the question of when football is going to introduce a 3rd eye? If Birmingham hadn’t ended up seeing Arsenal off, there would have been a gross injustice. Millions of pounds hinge on games every week and one dodgy decision can mean the difference between winning and losing cups, getting promoted or relegated, qualifying for Europe, or top players leaving clubs. Shouldn’t football be taking this more seriously? I can see that some are worried about it breaking up play, but I’m sure every fan in the country has been at the wrong end of a decision, and would prefer a minute stoppage time mid-game to get the decision right.
Luckily justice prevailed in the end and Birmingham came through, and deservedly. But what will be interesting to see is the amount of Arsenal fans who will say “well it was the Mickey Mouse cup anyway, and we’ve got more important things to worry about”. With six years since they last won some major silverware, isn’t it time they took it more seriously? There’s no denying that Birmingham have taken it seriously the whole way through the competition – and Arsenal more so for the first time in years – but let’s face it, if the United’s and the Chelsea’s had given it more importance, there’s a strong chance Birmingham wouldn’t have had their deserved day at Wembley. Some will say they wouldn’t have won it if the “bigger” clubs played ball. Should we turn a blind eye on the “bigger” clubs fielding the kids while they eye up the so called more important competitions? Or should we crack down on those not taking it seriously? The Premier League certainly frowns upon teams tactically fielding weaker sides, so should this be spread across the board?
This got me thinking over a few ideas which could ensure full participation and generally spice up the “3rd most important cup in England”.
Two leg ties – let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what competition it is, two leg ties generally take away from the excitement of a fixture. Let’s bring back the knock outs. Plus it’s not helping English football in the slightest. The fixture list is crammed enough as it is and managers are always moaning that it affects the national team and domestic clubs’ progress in Europe.
Fine teams that don’t play at least 8 first team squad members – the big guns fielding lesser teams and resting their big stars lessens the attraction of their matches and generally gives out a negative vibe regarding the importance and prestige of the competition.
Invite teams from the Scottish league – now this would be interesting. There’s been talk for years about inviting them to join the Premier League, why don’t they use the Carling Cup as the first step?
Back to my point at the top of the blog, how about using the Carling Cup as an experiment for third eye and goal line technology? It would certainly get the world watching. Teams will be interested in experiencing (and winning) matches that showcase the new technology, and it even brings in whole new sponsorship opportunities during the play-backs like they have in US sport.
What do you guys think? I’m sure this is a subject that you’ve all pondered many times before!
I’m a big fan of the Carling Cup, and seeing my team lift the cup at Wembley in recent years was certainly one of the highlights of my football-following career. But it doesn’t have the magic of the FA Cup, and whether that’s the reason for teams fielding weaker teams I’m not sure. Regardless of the cause I don’t want to see this continue, and would rather see Birmingham’s win being acknowledged as a result of them being the best team in the competition this year than have people say it was because the big teams didn’t take it seriously.