The League cup, Carling Cup, Capital One Cup, whatever you want to call it, doesn't matter does it?
It's an irrelevance. An irritation. A Mickey Mouse cup that's great if you win it but in the grand scheme of things doesn't matter. If you go out in the early rounds, so what?
Well actually it does matter. To a club like ours, it should matter a lot. I can understand Manchester City not being bothered but we should be.
I wish it didn't but it does.
Barring qualification for Europe, each season we enter 3 competitions. Before a balls been kicked, we're out of one because despite the great start to the season, we're not going to win the league.
So that leaves you two cup competitions as potential roads to success. Treat one with contempt and before you're into October, you've only got one trophy to play for
Contempt maybe a strong word. I don't doubt for one moment that David Moyes approached the match the other night wanting to win. An opportunity to not only progress in the competition but a chance to maintain momentum. So why make the changes?
False confidence following the start to the season or general apathy towards the competition?
With the odd exception, Elland Road has never been good to us. So why on a wet and windy night, against a Neil Warnock side, do we play Junior in the middle of the park?
You can only imagine their team talk before kick off.
Some will argue that the "established" players were as bad, if not worse than some of the new faces. Some will argue that these fringe players may be called upon at some stage of the season so if you don't give them minutes now, when do you.
I understand both points. I disagree with both points.
Yes, the established players were poor on the night but you make the changes we did, it unsettles everyone. The back four never looks comfortable with Jan Mucha behind them and in fairness, you can't blame them.
As for the second point, yes players need minutes and an opportunity to see what they can do but should that be at the expense of a potential trophy?
If you want to rest players or introduce youth/new signings, why not start strong, get a lead and then make changes? As it was, we had key players such as Fellaini, Pienaar and Jelavic out there for a large chunk of the match anyway and instead of cruising, they were chasing a game.
What's more likely to cause injury?
It can be long, tough season but I've never understood squad rotation in September.
We've never been strong enough to make wholesale changes and yet, year on year we do and I'm beginning to wonder when the penny will drop?
Some fans and indeed pundits are saying Champions League qualification isn't beyond us this year and that top four should be the aim. With a great start to the season so far, it's easy to go along with that.
But realistically a Europa League spot is still the target. The same target that could be achieved in February, with a trophy to boot with the right application and a good draw.
Yes it's been a great start to the season, with performances generally as good as results but we can't afford to take our eye of the ball, even for a moment.
All said and done, if the glamour and riches of Champions League football befall us, few will remember a murky night in West Yorkshire. Maybe that's the bigger picture. Maybe it is just a Mickey Mouse Cup that doesn't matter. But maybe that's just a default excuse we all throw out when we come out of the competition too early.
For now, it feels like another opportunity lost. A mistake. Maybe another season where silverware may very well elude us.
Let's hope I'm wrong. Jamie O'Rourke
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