Liverpool F.C. and The League Cup
Holders and Record Nine Times Winners, But How Much Do We Fans Care About It?
Liverpool F.C. and The League Cup
After the surreal intrusion of a World Cup in the desert, Football As We Know It returns this week with the League Cup, with the top two clubs in the all-time winners list meeting at the Etihad on Thursday. The home side are just one win behind the table-toppers and current holders Liverpool. Liverpool hold the record for the number of wins (nine) and final appearances (13) in this tournament. It seems an opportune moment to delve back into our illustrious record in this tournament.
League Cup Finals have been called all sorts over the years, as a succession of sponsors come and go - the Littlewoods Cup, Milk Cup, Coca-Cola Cup, before those brewers of beers of questionable quality, Worthington and Carling, muscled in. Now we're back with a another soft drink, Carabao.
But I’ll stick with League Cup as a generic term. That’s what it was when we first appeared in the final in 1978.
In truth we - and by that I mainly refre to our supporters - didn’t really used to take this tournament very seriously back then. Still don't really. Maybe the players and managers did, and do – a trophy’s a trophy after all, and playing at Wembley – or Cardiff, for a while - well, it’s special isn’t it? Apparently. And the extra incentive of European qualification only added to the allure.
But we Kopites always felt we had bigger fish to fry, and assumed annual European qualification by other means that were higher up the food chain. We referred to it as the ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ , beneath us, a bit demeaning. Getting excited about it made you like - well, other, lower, smaller clubs that you wouldn’t really want to be bracketed with. After all, we usually had the League title, our proverbial bread and butter, to challenge for most seasons, and as often as not the European Cup. The League Cup was strictly fourth out of four as far as competitions went - an easier stance to maintain when it’s quite feasible that you’ll win one of the other three, less so if you’re not (as you get older you learn to take your triumphs whenever and however you can).
Well I suppose it still is fourth out of four (if you’re in Europe that is), but certainly not beneath us – or I’d argue anyone else - now. City, Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea have all won it in recent years and been quite happy to do so. For big clubs club like Everton (no trophy since 1995!), Newcastle (no trophy since black and white TV), Aston Villa (no trophy since 1996), Leeds Utd, West Ham Utd, even Tottenham (2008), winning the League Cup is still worth a lot. It qualifies you for Europe too, and only Spurs out of that lot can claim to be regulars in that.
In these days when a club’s and manager’s records are subject to such intense scrutiny, when the ticker reminding you how long since you won a trophy keeps flashing so remorselessly, a Whatever-It’s-Now-Called Cup is no longer to be taken so lightly. It’s partly about where your club is at the time, but I would argue that even clubs in the Champions League and title/top 4 chasers shouldn't mind winning this trophy, even if it’s only as a first foothold on an ascent of a higher summit. We certainly enjoyed it last season against Chelsea, whilst recognising its place as base camp in pursuit of three more major trophies.
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