All three of the teams newly promoted to the Premier League fell at the first hurdle when they entered the Carling Cup last weekend.... It looked like all three teams fielded weakened teams - so that they could preserve their strength (or at least their better players) for the more important fight in the #EPL.
Seemingly all three of them were happy to lose the game, and drop out of the Cup - as it meant they would not have to deal with similar issues in the future. Certainly the reactions of all the managers to defeat was one of happiness......
The fact that a Cup run will give you extra income, help build confidence, give you more opportunities to trial different tactics, team selections, show the fans that you want to win it all - etc - these were ignored for the sake of keeping out of the bottom three in the Premiership (the standard objective for the newly promoted teams).
Now - I understand why these teams did it - I just don’t agree that it is the best for your Club. The coach makes the decision - but if these clubs were my responsibility - I would be having words - and given the other changes Tony Fernandes has made at QPR - I am surprised he allowed it. Here’s why....??
- If you are telling your team (behind closed doors as well as in the public) that the target is just to stay up - then this sets a really dangerous precedent..... We gave up the opportunity to go well in the cup because we want to stay in the league. What if people start to take a similar approach to other ‘can’t win games” - Man Utd away / Chelsea away etc etc - the steady erosion of inner confidence goes on..
- If (behind closed doors) you have actually set a target far higher than 16th - then a run in the cup should also be high on your agenda. Either you believe in the team or you don’t. If you have two options - ‘we believe you are good enough to get to Wembley’ or ‘we believe we are only good enough to finish 16th at best’ - which is more likely to get the best response from your team
- It is done to squeeze every single advantage out of the season.... But - wait on there a minute - define advantage.... If everyone is else is ‘giving up’ - then you do not have an advantage vs your competitors.... You just don’t have a disadvantage - and is that the way you want to go about your ‘successful’ season....?? Be brave, be bold - strive for advantages - don’t just follow everyone else.....
- By openly ‘giving up’ - you are painting a very poor image to the rest of your Club - your sponsors (who will expect you to be doing the best for their brand at ALL times), your staff (who work long and hard at EVERY game), and probably most importantly (who fully understand that the #EPL is a tough gig - and would far rather you managed resources to stay in the league, at the SAME TIME as trying to do your best in all competitions).
- This ‘submission’ could even come back to bite you when you want to change direction.... Remember - every person associated with the club knows the actions you are taking here and will apply it to their own (current and future) actions. Be careful!!
- You are slapping the Cup sponsors in the face. And in a time when sponsorship income streams are being more challenged than ever before - you are making it more difficult for your league to generate future income streams.
By all means manage your resources to give your star player a much needed break. By all means play some of the younger players who are starting to knock on the first team door.
But don’t openly give off a vibe of ‘we aren’t good enough’ / ‘we are giving up’ / ‘we are happy to lose’ - the impacts that will have on your organization both short and long term and likely to be far more negative than any quick win you think you will get by ‘cleverly’ dropping out of a competition.
Just to round off this piece - if we look at the three teams promoted to the #EPL in the 2010/11 season - let’s look at their approach to the Carling Cup - and what subsequently happened in the league.....
- West Brom - made it to Qtr finals - beating Man City along the way - survived.
- Newcastle - made it to Round 4 - beating Chelsea along the way - survived.
- Blackpool - knocked out in first available round to a team well down the leagues - RELEGATED.....
I have no knowledge on each team’s relative attempts or internal messages - but the results would seemingly speak for themselves....
You want to be a successful club - then you have to want to be a successful club ALL the time.