A belated post. But the time that has passed hasn’t tempered the feelings I’ve had, during and immediately after the match, in the slightest bit. There are many reasons really.
I have read quite a few opinions around the place. James Ryddel of A Kick in the Grass thinks it is a good thing we got knocked out — especially for disgruntled season ticket holders supposedly wilting under the weight of having to pay for Carling Cup games. Nevertheless, the turnout – something nearing 63,000 – never actually betrayed such concerns.
Scott at the RoM, couldn’t care less about the loss.
So I guess it’s my turn to share a bit of my exalted levels of punditry. So here goes.
Alright let’s face it. We have done worse than this – when a relatively stronger side was sent out to Burton and Hove Albion and drew in a FA Cup first round. That was a conference outfit. So drawing has to be slightly worse. But then I digress. Coventry were a different prospect. Granted they were a Championship side. Granted, we played at home in front of 63,000 home fans. But you’d expect Coventry to be hungrier to make a mark against big opposition. You’d expect them to be more prepared as an outfit and a certainly more cohesive one at that — especially when your team is a hastily assembled XI that may not have played together as a unit at all.
But that was not the issue. There was nothing wrong in fielding the side that Fergie did. After all, in his pre-game programme notes, his intention was to make good use of the Carling Cup for blooding in youth. That was what Wenger has been doing for a while, and that is what SAF intended to do. So, while the intention of using the CC for youth was undoubtedly good, there is the issue of ensuring the team manages to progress to the next stage of the competition – which translates to more games. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.
Prior to the game, SAF went on record to mention how badly Rooney wanted to play. Playing him on the bench, therefore, wouldn’t have hurt our chances the slightest bit, in any eventuality. It’s not that he would have certainly scored a hat-trick and rescued the side – he could have, but that’s besides the point – but the necessity of having a someone who can come off the bench and change things could have certainly helped. We had Carrick and Brown instead – both players you would look to for more solidity rather than attacking thrust.
Surely Frazier Campbell couldn’t have done too much.
But I am sure a good lot of you must be wondering what I am on about. Yes we lost, but who cares, some of you might say. It’s only the Carling Cup, some of you might reassure me. Yes, I do understand, it is fourth in our priorities this season. But winning the Carling Cup is not the main purpose of the tournament for clubs like ours, and Arsenal for example. It would be good if we win it. I remember how many were delirious when the Cup was won two years back. Finally a Cup! , many had remarked.
I don’t want to sound alarmist, now that we lost, but it should come as little surprise that our youth system isn’t quite as good as it used to be some years back. Well, I don’t expect players necessarily coming through the youth ranks in hordes like baggages off conveyor belts – unlike Arsenal, who now have very little difference between their ‘second string’ and first XI – but a genuine star or two, once in a while, wouldn’t hurt too much. Some would mention the potential of Pique and Evans, but didn’t we hear similar things about Bardsley and others? He may yet turn out to be good, but recent indications haven’t shown too much.
Now I may have been a little too bitter, but players like Pique and Evans need to be given more games against good opposition. Other wise they will rot, fret and move away — not unlike Rossi, who’s now already scored 4 goals this season, helping Villarreal to the upper levels of the La Liga table.
About Nani and Anderson? The jury is still out on both, but judgement on them must be reserved till the end of the season.
Anyway, if Fergie really meant it when he reportedly fumed after the game and was ‘flabbergasted’, he should have at least put in some good personnel on the bench to ensure victory. From his tone he took the game seriously. If not, he didn’t really care about giving a longer run to the youth. Or, which is more worrying, was his confidence in the youth ranks misplaced?
It’s just the Carling Cup. But doesn’t this tournament serve a different purpose – less about winning the Cup, more about progressing further?
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