I should warn you, the last time I decided to care about the League Cup, Branislav Ivanovic had his worst game ever and Eden Hazard (almost) kicked an (almost) child. I'm banking on neither playing today, so we should be good to go.
So, League Cup. Also known as Mickey Mouse Cup, Giant Waste of Time Cup, Useless Cup, Why Have Two Major(ish) Cups in England Cup, etc. Though in recent times it's also been known as the Fun Cup, with random scorelines like 7-5 and 5-4 and Manchester United losing to a team that shouldn't even exist and shootouts that go 15 rounds. Except for the eventual winners, nobody really cares about it and even then, it's quickly forgotten -- of course I'm talking mostly about fans here; my assumption is that professional football players, at least the large majority of them, prefer winning anything and everything. You might remember who won it last year (Manchester City) or when Chelsea won it last (2007), but any pertinent information beyond that gets flushed pretty quickly from our memory banks.
So why care? Well, it's pretty simple, really. I'd like (us) to win something. We've thrown away too many good opportunities in the last couple years and it does add up. I should warn you, the last time a similar thought nagged at me, we crumbled at the Club World Club Cup Cup of Cupity Cupity Cups Cup. In fact, since that entirely needless and ultimately exasperating mid-season detour, we've won just the Europa League. Here's how things have gone:
- FIFA Club World Cup: 1-0 loss to Corinthians in the final, Cahill sent off, Brazilians cry
- Capital One Cup: eliminated by Swansea City in the semifinals 2-0 on agg.; Ivanovic gifts both goals, Hazard sent off for ballLAD incident
- FA Cup: 2-1 loss to Manchester City in the semifinal, Aguero stamps on David Luiz, Kompany goes for a shirt exchange with Torres a bit too early
- Europa League: yay consolation prize!
- Premier League: third place - ok.
- UEFA Super Cup: loss to Bayern in a shootout, after conceding the equalizer with just seconds left; Lukaku's last ever kick for the club is the decisive missed spot kick
- Capital One Cup: 2-1 loss to Sunderland in the quarterfinal, conceding the equalizer with two minutes left, then conceding the winner in extra time also with just two minutes left
- FA Cup: 2-0 loss to Manchester City in the quarterfinal; bad, bad day
- Champions League: 3-1 loss at home to Atlético in the second leg of the semifinal; much, much worse day
- Premier League: third place - not as ok, considering we had control of our own title destiny a few matches prior.
That's a lot of demons to exorcise. And they'll just keep adding up if we don't.
So let's not faff about anymore with this competition as if all that it's good for is faffing about. (Which is all that it's ever good for in all likelihood, but I care now so shush.) Let's bring back the spirit of 2004-05 and kickstart the new generation with a matching League Cup triumph. Mourinho has talked plenty about instilling a winning mentality in the squad and that has to encompass these smaller competitions as well. Steve Holland touched on as much in his comments yesterday as well.
"The Capital One Cup is important. I would be lying if I said it is more important than the Champions League and Premier League but if you look at the winners of this competition in recent years they are more often than not the clubs you expect to be challenging for trophies, with the odd exception."
-Steve Holland; source: Chelsea FC
Play the backups and a few kids tonight, play them again when appropriate opposition present themselves in later rounds. But let's make sure we win today and we win in the next round and the round after that... And then, let's make sure we win it at the end. Now that I've decided to care and opened myself up for disappointment, let's make sure we win it at the end.