Taking the Carabao Cup seriously

Paul O'Neil 05/10/2018 14comments  |  Jump to last

It's been a few days now since I trudged away from Goodison Park after the Leaguue Cup exit to a poor Southampton team and I’m still hacked off. As a seasoned bluenose, I was lucky enough to start watching Everton in the 1969-70 season and what a team that was. I have seen the highs and lows, watched great teams with fabulous players, seen poor teams that regularly flirted with relegation and all points in between. It’s often tough being a Blues supporter and I genuinely believe our supporters deserve a medal for their undying support. But these inevitable perennial cup defeats to poor teams and teams from lower divisions are as infuriating as they are unnecessary!

We are a blues family and our support of the club goes back to 1940s. So, on Tuesday afternoon, having got back late from holiday I managed to persuade my brother to buy a couple of tickets online for the game. The best available seemed to be obstructed views in the time warp that is the Lower Bullins Road! The only thing that is up to date are the tea and beer prices. My brother was against going with his logic being as Everton don’t take the competition seriously, why bother going? I had previously overcome his logic for the Rotherham game and persuaded him to go. Despite the fact that Rotherham caused us problems, we eventually got that late goal that made the scoreline 3-1 respectable.

Before hearing the team selection against Southampton, we both acknowledged that Marco Silva might rest a couple of players and debated the team selection in the car. We even dared to talk about the trip to Leicester in the next round. We then learned of seven changes to the team from Saturday. We both agreed that:


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  • There will be a big crowd who are taking this very seriously. If over 30,000 attended why aren’t EvertonFC taking it seriously?
  • It is unfair on the 7 new faces who have to bond instantly in order to maximise their well-earned opportunity. Maybe include one or two old players instead?
  • It is unfair on the 7 “rested” who are trying to blend into a new team in the Premier League that is struggling.
  • We need our best team out anyway to stand any chance of winning against another Premier League side.

I could go on and on here and I’m sure that lots of other supporters would chip in with valid points in favour of not playing a weakened team. But the point I am making is as follows:

As an Everton supporter — a club that hasn’t rewarded their supporters with a trophy for over 20 years, surely Everton have a duty to take the League Cup / Milk Cup / Carabao Cup seriously?

The only time in recent history that we have taken the cups seriously was when Roberto Martinez, albeit with the trap door looming, decided it might be in his interests to have a go! We got to both semi-finals that year and were unlucky in both not to progress to the finals.

I haven’t discovered anything new that any other bluenose isn’t thinking or saying. Just listening to the supporters leaving the ground or the radio phone ins or the comments here on ToffeeWeb proves this. There is a clear disconnection between how the loyal supporters of our club view this competition and how Everton view it. The question for me is what can we as supporters actually do to influence the behaviour of our club? If we can’t influence events surely we need to make our feelings known.

Is there a marker to be put down here so that the clubs custodians (whoever they might be) ensure that the manager is absolutely clear that our supporters expect our best eleven start to play in the cups, regardless of the opposition. I think 30,000 supporters don’t deserve the insult when Marco Silva selects a second best team in this vital competition. So how do we do it?

A few years ago, Liverpool suffered the wrath of their own support when a walk-out was organised in the 77th minute. I think it was over ticket prices and it worked to good effect. My point is that maybe even Everton would listen if the protest was made correctly and with enough power. I think there are many ways to let the club know how unhappy their supporters are, including:

  • A simple petition ... maybe signed on line.
  • The use of radio phone-ins to highlight the disconnect
  • Banners at the ground
  • Letters to the club
  • Certainly my brothers action of not attending the League Cup matches would draw attention.

I genuinely do not know how to raise the profile of my annoyance at the club over fielding weakened sides and would welcome any constructive comments for a way forward. Is this a shout in the dark from me or are there other frustrated blues with ideas of how to construct a clear communique to Everton to say enough is enough?

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Reader Comments (14)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 05/10/2018 at 15:28:52
Paul, good rant. Cannot fault the emotion.

But it leaps out at me what the problem is and it's right there in your piece, manifested in the stance taken by your bro.

How can you claim that the Everton fanbase are taking this competition seriously when at least 1 in 4 of them are not?

Everton fans are providing (almost) full houses for every Premier League game. But not the League Cup. Yes, of course, the reason is that they know the club is going to make changes, and is not going to take it seriously. Of course, they allow that knowledge to sway them from attending in a way that would never happen for a Premier League match.

League Cup attendances are always significantly below capacity. I'm not sure how you break a cycle that has been set in stone. Only by filling (not emptying!) Goodison Park for these games could you convince the club that perhaps a change of priorities is in order.

Simon Lloyd
2 Posted 05/10/2018 at 15:52:25
Or vice-versa.
Tony Abrahams
3 Posted 05/10/2018 at 15:57:14
7,000 down, Michael, but if they would have got through and also beat Leicester, do you not think Goodison would have been full to the brim for the latter stages?

Michael, you write some great stuff, but I can't agree with your last paragraph though, mate. Everton played Rotherham in the round before and had their biggest gate at that stage of the competition for a very, very long time, so maybe the club have got it wrong, and it might even go against them in the earlier rounds of future cup competitions?

I'm convinced that Kenwright is the jinx, and only once he sells the rest of his shares, will we go back to existing to try and win cups once again.

Michael Kenrick
4 Posted 05/10/2018 at 16:43:12
Sorry, Tony, but no, it's just wishful thinking to believe Goodison Park would be full for a midweek cup game... okay, perhaps against Liverpool.

Just look back at the attendances. Even the Semi-Final against Man City a few years back... it was down by 4,000 from the Premier League.

Why don't more people go? Why aren't they full houses? Sadly, it's not that much better for the FA Cup either!

And I love blaming Kenwright... but sorry, that is just a far too easy populist conspiracy theory.
Danny Broderick
5 Posted 05/10/2018 at 17:33:07
I can empathise with a lot of your sentiment, Paul. Like everyone, I am desperate to see us win a trophy again. However, I don't think Silva fielded that much of a weakened team. All of the players that played are on the fringes of the first team. How else can Silva run the rule over the likes of Lookman, Dowell and Bernard if he doesn't play them in a game like this?

I will concede that I wouldn't have played Stekelenburg or Schneiderlin. I don't see what the manager was hoping to learn by playing them. But from the other changes, I think the players needed a game – you need to keep them ticking over for match sharpness and fitness as much as anything else.

I don't think we have valid grounds for making a protest based on this. We are frustrated by the result, but the team chosen should still have been able to beat Southampton – especially considering that we brought on Walcott, Niasse and Richarlison.

I think we just have to bite the bullet on this one, I'm afraid.

Paul Birmingham
6 Posted 05/10/2018 at 18:23:44
For me, it's become so predictable, the almost permanent lament of our most revered beloved Everton FC.

In the years gone by, I've often wondered how, why, what, and if, like so many of us, 1000s of times. It's got me nowhere and I'm at the stage in life when the heart is always beating fast for Everton, but my head says "No it won't... and, even if it does, there'll be a catch, of a major issue, somewhere!" And the RS shadow always hangs these days.

Working close to Bramley-Moore Dock the last few weeks, and it's a sobering thought to think of the scale of the civil and marine engineering it's gonna take to build a base – let alone a stadium to play in. The scale is immense and whilst I see some bonus in template of the hole in the ground is there, the cost and impact of Brexit etc on the UK economy, remains a potential problem for the Everton Stadium project director.

Digressing on the parallel spiral of the mis-management of the club in business and commercial matters, bar perhaps the last 2.5 years, from the last 30 years, the decline of playing prowess of Everton is such that now none of the away fans I know, from across the UK, take us a playing force seriously, whilst praising the loyalty of the supporters, through – as they say and we know – the most wretched times.

For me, the manager didn't do his homework, had no priority plan to win the game, as he didn't pick his best players. There's no ifs or buts, as our best chance of progressing and growing confidence disappeared in the usual penalty-miss competition.

Silva can say in hindsight whatever; it's too late now. I want him to succeed for the sake of every Evertonian, but it's early days; I'll be putting the 10-game marker for the Premier League down in a couple of weeks. This week will be etched in time; let's hope it's a turning point.

Lucky to have seen glory days but these have been diluted to memory and I feel for the youth and up-and-coming generations of Evertonians.

Is the Everton Rennaissance ever gonna happen soon? At this moment in time, I'd say No, and that's being honest.

Striker in January a must, deffo, but also a settled team as near as damn it allows, and minimum tinkering.

Does the club show by the team selection it really wants to win a cup? This tournament has been the Have-a-go Cup, the Field Trial Cup, the Can't Really Be Arsed Cup... for donkey's years.

Shame on Silva this week, and that's only my humble view, and everyone else's view I respect.

The team needs to get brought in for extra training this Sunday if they melt at Leicester.

If the team isn't plugged in this Saturday, I've no doubt the pending autumn gales will feel even worse around Goodison Park and Finch Farm these next few weeks.

But hope eternal eh, and that sense of pending inevitability of the match result, is always there.

Let's hope the form turns – starting this Saturday.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 05/10/2018 at 21:11:43
I didn't know that the Man City, semi-final, was 4,000 down on a full house Michael, especially considering City, would have been entitled to 6,000 tickets, so there was probably just as many Evertonians, in the ground the other night then, as there was for this game.

I'm not blaming Kenwright for the other night, but he kept Moyes at Goodson for 11 years – and he's supposed to be a proper Evertonian?

The reality is that we have jinxed ourselves, allowing ourselves to punch above our weight, and let the once mighty Everton rejoice at coming best of the rest, with some fans it seems, not even interested in the cups anymore.

Michael, I love a good conspiracy theory, but that particular one is just a theory of my own, mate. Bill begged, stole and borrowed to keep hold of Everton (the greatest club in the land, I'm sure he's called us!) and the minute he goes, I just have a funny feeling that we will begin to realise what we really should exist for...

Mike Kehoe
8 Posted 06/10/2018 at 09:19:54
I’m sick of penalties, I would rather games be settled by a quiz.
Brian Porter
9 Posted 06/10/2018 at 10:00:27
Paul, in my 60th year as an Everton fan and I agree wholeheartedly with you. For once Michael I find myself disagreeing with you. You seem to think the fans should fill Goodison for every league Cup game to show the club how important we as fans, rate it. But, would you seriously pay good money to go and watch what you know in advance will be a virtual reserve team playing whoever it might be? The onus is surely on the manager to show by his team selection that he is taking the game and the competition seriously

I don't agree with those who say Silva has to play the fringe players in such games, to 'keep them fresh' or whatever reason he might come up with. His job is to send out his strongest team in order to win or attempt to win EVERY game, not just those in the Premier league. In this, he failed big style on Tuesday and as I've said on other threads, he lied to us, by saying in advance he wouldn't be making massive changes after last Saturday.

He has lost my trust, any credibility he had before the game and has been mentioned by more than one poster on other threads, as a result of his disastrous team selection, he has crossed a line with many supporters. He hasn't been with us long enough to play fast and free with the supporters feelings, and his early results haven't exactly got the majority of the fan base singing his praises, I suspect.

So far, he's done little to prove he isn't another relegation manager a la Martinez. I only hope I'm wrong, but hell it's October already and we are basically as crap as we were under Allardyce

Kevin Prytherch
10 Posted 06/10/2018 at 10:01:33
The only players who had played every game this season and could possibly justify being “rested” were Walcott And Sigurdsson. Every other player has missed at least one game.

I think we would have seen different players if 2 out of Dowell, Lookman and Bernard started with more of a settled team around them. Maybe Tosun was justified with his goal the week before, but that should have been it.

It’s especially harsh on Dowell and Lookman, who are given a chance with 4 attacking players around them who have never played together. They’ll now be shunted back with their limited opportunities “justified” by their cup performances.

Paul ONeill
11 Posted 08/10/2018 at 00:16:02
Good article, Paul, and a very fair point.

You also have a GREAT name, although you're one ‘l' out!

Matthew Williams
12 Posted 08/10/2018 at 09:29:05
With Moshiri now in total control, our shit record in this Competition will not improve in the slightest, the same will apply for the FA Cup in January too.

At least all Blues now know that our club from now on will only be competing on one single solitary front when the new season starts up... sigh.

At least we'll give future derbies a real go eh! Erm, maybe?

Jerome Shields
13 Posted 11/10/2018 at 07:46:32
Matthew (12), I agree, the Cup competitions weren't mentioned at Brands's and Silvas interviews. Though I do think Everton would gain in consistency from a good run in both.
Matthew Williams
14 Posted 15/10/2018 at 14:56:08
All I want is the Blues to win trophies we have never won in our history... before they are gone forever, like the European Cup-Winners Cup!

I believe our way back to the big time is by winning a Cup and this one has eluded us for far too long and is the easiest to win... both on paper and grass.

I'm sure 100% all Blues want another glorious day out at Wembley and a direct route back into European Football... it starts here, folks, and always has!

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