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When Arsene Wenger fielded a weakened team in the Capital One Cup against Sheffield Wednesday, he got exactly what he deserved. The 3-0 scoreline did not flatter the Owls and they could have won by more.

My question to Wenger, Pellegrini, van Gaal, Mourinho and Ferguson in the past is, do you actually realise how the disrespect is apportioned in this competition?

The first object of disdain is your own fans. They blindly follow where you go, spending hard earned money on tickets, travel and occasionally hotels in order to see their heroes try to win a game of football. The Arsenal fans who travelled up the M1 to Sheffield were cheering the team on and pledging their undying love even when they were 3-0 down.

They deserved more than they were served up by their team. Firstly, Wenger left Cazorla, Sanchez and Ozil out of the squad and, unlike the fans, they couldn’t be bothered to go and watch the team. Why would they? It was a very cold night in Sheffield. There are times when I am amazed by the loyalty of supporters. Having lost the game they faced a trip back to London, probably by train if it wasn’t cancelled, arriving back home at any time between 1:00am and 3:00am if they were lucky, with the prospect of a couple of hours sleep before getting up for work. Are football players and managers that far removed from the fans that they either don’t know or don’t care what they go through to follow the team? Then they charge them the highest prices in the Premier League to attend matches at the Emirates.

The second object of disdain is the opponent. I don’t know, but I feel pretty sure that when Sheffield Wednesday saw the Arsenal team it was almost like they had scored. It is so motivational to think that a team like Arsenal assume they can beat you without even playing their first team. So, no team talk required, Wenger removed the need for that.

The third object of disdain is the competition itself. We all know how managers like to go on about how too much football is played in England. Notice that it is only ever the managers, readying their excuses for when they lose a game. You never hear the players saying, “I would like to be left out of the next game as I feel I am being asked to play too much football.”

Then there is the excuse of the Champions League for the top clubs. “I’ll have to rotate when it comes to the Capital One Cup as I can’t have players playing two games per week.” Except when one of those games happens to be in the Champions League, then it is fine.

Anybody who is a regular reader of mine knows my feelings on this two “games in a week” scenario faced by footballers. If they cannot manage 180 minutes of football in a whole week, with or without travelling any distance, then there is something very wrong with them physically. Obviously the training is wrong, or the diet is wrong, something is wrong. There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Even allowing for half an hours extra time in a midweek cup game a player can expect to play 210 minutes of competitive football that week. So he will spend 0.02% of his time on the field of play, not necessarily running around, just on the field. It must be so tiring.

Now, the other side of the coin, which I do have a bit of time for, is that the manager wants to give some game time to the younger players. I still don’t see, however, that this necessitates wholesale changes to the team at the expense of the competition and the fans.

Before Ferguson started playing a weakened team in the League Cup the clubs managed very well with what they had. The United I first started watching in the sixties didn’t have a massive squad, yet they still managed to compete in the League, the League Cup, the FA Cup and the European Cup. The first division as it was then consisted of 22 teams so there were four games more during a season. They even managed to win the European Cup in 1968, a feat they have only been able to repeat twice since, despite the size of the squad and the rotation.

Whatever is written here is not going to change the way football managers think, or go about their business. I would be absolutely amazed if any of them deigned to even read this. It is just my small way of pointing out that, although we will follow our team to the ends of the earth and support them through thick and thin, despite being taken for granted and treated like mugs, that doesn’t mean that we will always agree with everything they say and do.

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Comments
  1. Iain Quinn says:

    I dont think the issue is that they are buggered by playing 2 games a week, its that if you constantly play 2 games a week, after a while you will not be at peak physical condition… even 2-3% off the top of your game is enough to swing a contest fare more important than a league cup clash

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  2. Thanks for the comment Iain, great name, by the way. Are you sure that TWO games per week would have that much effect? Maybe I would agree if it were three or four, I’m not sure. I suppose that, while Arsenal think they still have a chance in the Champions League, they will cling onto that at the expense of the Capital One. I still think they would have had a chance of winning the COC though, and may regret it although , knowing Arsene, I doubt it.

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  3. Andrew says:

    As much as i get your argument here, i really dont see the need to play a full squad especially in the case of Arsenal who already have a very thin squad. Lets be fair here, if there’s any competition one can throw away its the COC. Even by playing a few senior players two of those got injured to add to a growing list. Id rather we played an entire u-21 side in the COC than loose Theo and Chambo all in the name of trying to win a mickey mouse cup. To be fair most fans were more annoyed by the injuries than the loss and it was the talking point on twitter not the thrashing. Even the FA Cup is no longer taken that seriously by the top sides never mind the league cup. Its not disrespect to the opposition its just priorities. Sheffield would have a great season if the won the COC it wouldnt be a great season at Arsenal if we did same. Thats just what it is. You do make a sound argument though.

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  4. Thanks Andrew. Whilst I agree that you don’t want to be losing any of your better players in the COC, do you really think you will beat Bayern next week? It’s a tall order and you’ve probably made it harder by beating them at the Emirates, as they will want revenge. So realistically I think you can forget the Champions League, as can the other English clubs in a short while. That leaves the FA Cup, which I don’t think will keep the Gooners happy this time, or the league, or both. Good luck in the league, that has to be the goal.

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  5. Kody says:

    I see what you’re getting at, but no one thought Arsenal would win the first match with Bayern…..but they did. No one thought we would run away from or dominate United when we met them in the league, with all the talk being of Arsenal’s poor record against them…but they did. To me it’s folly in some sense to even allude that they couldn’t beat Bayern at the Allianz….especially considering they just did so 2 years ago. Your title is “Where is the Respect?” and perhaps you could level that question to yourself in your assessing of a team who thus far have proved many wrong despite slipups against teams like Zagreb, Olympiakos et al. Not all teams will treat every competition the same way nor will they go for them with the same amount of gusto, if that’s your expectation I’m afraid it’s a bit off the mark.

    In reference to the two games a week bit it’s generally well known among those who coach or study top level athletics that the body requires nearly 72 hours to fully recover from high level competition. It’s not as simple as saying there’s something wrong with the players or the training or the diet. It’s a very fine balance to keep players in top physical condition when you not only are playing twice a week, but also have to factor in training nearly everyday as well.

    I do think you make some fair points, but much of this comes off as opinions without a whole lot of facts to support it. The reality is none of us are experts, nor do we work for a club, so in truth we have no semblance of understanding all the ins and outs of such things. It’s much like those who pretend to have some knowledge of how the transfer market works. We can make general observations, but the fact is we are almost completely uninformed on the most important details involved.

    Thanks for sharing and allowing the response.

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  6. Thanks for the comments Kody. Yes you’re right, it is all about opinions and that’s why I always like to get some comments. I put forward my opinions but they will not always be right and I am prepared to be corrected when somebody offers a better or more logical side to the debate.
    Thanks again.

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  7. AB says:

    I think it is about the prize money, which makes managers to give less importance to C1C games.

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