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The League Cup for Arsene/Arsenal – Mickey Mouse or Mickey Momentum?

Mickey Mouse or Mickey Momentum?

A quick look at my Twitter time line yesterday informed me, without reading the press, that Arsenal fans were debating whether the League Cup is a major trophy, aggrieved at the press praising Man United and Mourinho. The phrase ‘Mickey Mouse Trophy’ is being aired of course, by bitter Arsenal supporters jealous of United’s day out or perhaps younger or more Global Gooners who just don’t attach importance to the fourth trophy. The reality is that many, including our own manager might attach more importance to the non-existent Fourth Place Trophy.

Some of us grew up with the League Cup and in fact, my first trip to Wembley was for the League Cup Final in 1987. A fabulous day when two goals from the North Bank’s darling, Charlie Nicholas saw a young Arsenal side overcome the might of Liverpool in George Graham’s first season. However, this is not a personal piece but more about the fact that it is one of the four competitions we are involved with and it is undoubtedly a springboard for greater things. We saw that with Graham’s you g team and the belief it instilled taking them to the League title at Anfield two years later.

87 League Cup Win a springboard to greatness

Now as Arsenal fans, we can hope that this victory will not give Mourinho’s team a lift and the impetus to improve and gain momentum for the remainder of the season but the odds suggest it might do just that, which will impact Arsenal’s limited aspirations. One of my main issues with Wenger over the years since we moved to the Emirates was how he failed to take this competition seriously when just doing so at the latter stages could have given Arsenal silver ware. The benefits of this could have been significant in my opinion, because it would have given his teams the winning feeling, which in turn one would hope have led to a winning mentality. In addition, imagine the years 2006 to 2014 without the additional pressure generated by the unnecessary trophy drought.

You have to wonder in 2011 when Wenger finally took the latter stages of the League Cup seriously again if his players might have buckled under the pressure favouritism and lost to Birmingham had they experienced winning in the recent past. For those who doubt my memory of the facts, regardless of whether you respect the competition let me refresh your memory.

In 2006 the youngsters has done us proud and we had reached the Semi-Final and were to play a relegation threatened Wigan. Only three first team regulars, Ljungberg, PIres and Gilberto played in the first leg, we consequently lost 1-0.  Wenger had not learned his lesson and whilst he brought back Henry and Bergkamp, he still resisted playing his first eleven and though we won 2-1, we exited on the away goal, scored at the death by Jason Roberts. As I left Highbury that night, I was blaming Wenger but we were recently Invincibles and FA Cup holders so I swallowed the pill.

League Cup Semi defeat 2006 – The rot began

In 2007 the ‘kids’ actually made it to the final and we had defeated Spurs over two legs in the Semi with a sprinkling of first teamers. However, the final was against Chelsea, the Premier League Champions and at that point one of the strongest teams in Europe. Wenger knew that Mourinho always played his strongest team so we all hoped he would do the same, but no Wenger knew best. Well it was obvious was it not that Traore, Senderos and Hoyte could deal with Drogba, Shevchenko, Lampard & Co? NOT

Men versus Boys 2007

Have you ever seen such a mismatch and how could this possibly help our youngster develop? Yes, Walcott scored but Drogba dominated Senderos and scored his 27th and 28th goals of that season – Who saw that coming? So was that defeat down to Abramovich’s millions  or do we think that Hleb, Henry, Adebayor, Gilberto, Gallas etc might have given us a shot at a trophy and ended the drought before it began? The wrong selection and the wrong priorities again from Wenger deprived his team of an opportunity to gain that winning feeling once more.

Surely having fallen at the penultimate or final hurdle for two years running Wenger would learn the obvious lesson. No, of course he did not and the crime worsened in 2008 when the Semi-Final stage of the League Cup saw not only a place in the final at stake but again pitted Arsenal against their North London foes. So surely then, with a final, pride and bragging rights up for grabs and with his team leading the way in the Premier League, Wenger would ensure momentum was retained. No he rested three of his first choice midfield in Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb, as well as all of his back four and the keeper. We drew 1-1 but for the second leg, he only brought back Fabregas and Hleb and his young team were thrashed 5-1 at the Lane.

Allowing this to happen – Unforgiveable

Well that was a real low as a supporter, particularly when Spurs went on to beat Chelsea in the Final, oddly both sides at full strength, rubbing salt into an already gaping wound.

In the 2008/9 and 2009/10 seasons Wenger again played entire teams of youngsters and in both seasons Arsenal exited early to Burnley and Man City respectively.  So I repeat my question to those of you who either think the League Cup unimportant of believe our trophy drought was down to the new wealth of our rivals rather than choice do you still believe that? Do you honestly think that had he played the team in 2008 that were several points clear at the top of the league we would not have beaten Spurs? Had we done so and won the League Cup gaining revenge on Chelsea, with the confidence, momentum and character it gave us would Arsenal have collapsed as spectacularly as they did at St Andrews?

Momentum and mentality lost 2008

Add this to the same policy to a lesser degree in the FA Cup and I give you a Wenger induced trophy drought and a squad deprived of the opportunity of realistically gaining a winning mentality from 2006 to 2011. We will never know how history might have been different for the post 2004 squad had they won domestic cups in 2006. 2007 or 2008 but our manager never gave us or his players the chance to find out.

Whether you agree with all I say or agree only in part ask yourself honestly if you truly believe we have more momentum and a better mentality than United right now?

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3 Responses to The League Cup for Arsene/Arsenal – Mickey Mouse or Mickey Momentum?

  1. Victor Thompson February 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    It galls me to read this Dave as it reinforces my own feelings about what we have thrown away over the years. It is sickening to go back 10 years and dig up the same failings we have now. It is very difficult to write anything now as to do so is simply to repeat one`s previous comments until it is unpleasant to come upon a long litany of critiques.

    I often question myself and ask if I am simply a repeat moaner but then I read the blog from Greg Johnston on twitter today. He took the trouble to contact a source from every other club in the premiership to ask them if 1. they thought Arsene should leave this year, and 2. What is preventing Arsenal from winning the Premiership. Almost to a man they said “yes” but most ( like myself ) would rather he left of his own volition while most fans still felt affection for him. The almost universal opinion of Arsenal now is that we are “Bottlers” and the team is a reflection of the manager. He has lost control of himself and of the team. His selection of players is imbalanced, as is the make up of the team.

    It gave me some comfort to find that I am not on my own in my opinions and that the odd ones are those who still support him and cannot recognise the failings that are so obvious to other people.

    I know you are a professional and that you have to come up with something to write and I have to admire your ability to keep coming up with something to interest your fans. I note that there is to be a protest March next Tuesday from Highbury to the Emirates against the contract extension for Wenger which is on the table. I hoped it would never come to that. We are not Leicester City and it takes a hell of a lot to make our fans resort to that but 12 years of failure is just too much to bear.

    It is the greed of Kroenke and the Obstinacy, and also contempt which Wenger has demonstrated recently in regard to the fans, that has left them with no other way than demonstrations to attract attention.

    When Herbert Chapman raised Arsenal up to being an elite club in the First Division, stadiums were of a generally similar size and the price of admission was fairly uniform, but now Arsenal fans have one of the best stadiums in England and they pay the dearest prices in the world to watch their team. It is not good enough to serve them up with failure every year and anyone else would have been sacked long ago.

    • Dave Seager February 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm #

      I know my friend. I read and RTed that too

  2. MarblehallsTV March 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    The League Cup mattered in 1987, but that was a different era of football. Personally I think it should be abolished, and that’s not necessarily popular to say, but then it’s run its course and was good for the era it was in. Mourinho is still a top manager, and he’s getting his ways/mentality onto to them. That’s what we need really. We also won the FA Cups lately and still have bottled it in the league. There are some deeper issues at hand, not rooted in winning alone.

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