29 October 2019 14:35

Leeds United F.C. Premier League Middlesbrough F.C.

2017–18 efl cup

Quique Sanchez Flores says he has been forced to play five at the back for one of the first times in his career to plug Watford's leaky defence. Flores took charge at Vicarage Road for a second time in September and one of the Spaniard's key tasks was to tighten Watford up at the back, as they had kept one clean sheet in the Premier League since February. Flores has done just that and he takes his side to Everton tonight in the Carabao Cup having conceded just once in their last three games. "It is not the best system for me," said Flores. "But sometimes, when you feel the players don't have enough confidence, you need to protect them." Predict the outcomes of the midweek Carabao Cup ties.

2017–18 efl cup

The League Cup returns tonight and no one really seems to care. There are just 16 teams left in the competition, five of which come from the bottom two divisions. There is guaranteed to be at least one side from League One, and another from League Two, left in the quarter-finals. This should be cause for celebration, but interest has been limited. The League Cup has been effectively sidelined in recent years as our focus on the Premier League and the Champions League becomes all-encompassing.

2017–18 efl cup

The same situation is replicated elsewhere, with many countries, France being just the latest example, deciding to do away with the competition altogether. England is now the only one of the 'big five' leagues – Germany, Italy, France and Spain make up the rest – to still have a League Cup. The idea of scrapping it is often floated as a potential solution to fixture congestion and changing priorities, but it would be a mistake to do so. It deserves more respect and still has much to offer. While the League Cup is considered a trifling concern by the biggest clubs, and others are increasingly following suit, it's delivered some memorable moments and unexpected successes in its relatively short history. There should always be a place for it in the football calendar.

That it stubbornly refuses to go away is for the best. Seen as more of an inconvenience, and a chance to rest key players, than a cause for excitement, it continues to surprise and create a varied list of finalists. Since 2000, 19 different teams have played in a League Cup final, and even with Manchester City's recent dominance, there have still been 10 different winners. The more prestigious FA Cup has yielded seven in the same period. There's a sense that so many supporters have internalised the logic of club accountants and decided that the League Cup is just a distraction from reaching the Premier League or staying there. The pursuit of success for its own sake has become secondary to financial reward. Perverse as it may be, in pure monetary terms, TV deals are worth far more than trophies. As a result of this, priorities have become warped. Winning the League Cup won't save a manager's job but finishing a few places higher up the league probably will. Even for those clubs who can't hope to crack the top six, Premier League points still take precedence. Latest News & #39; The time to be scared is over & #39;: the search for justice and healing in Liberia | Global development