Every year when the cups kick into action the old debate arises about the big clubs playing youngsters and exiting the competition at an early stage and then being accused of not respecting the competition. Of course if they proceed in the competition playing those youngsters then everything is good and nobody cares.
I think that managers should be able to manage their squads however they see fit. They should not be forced to pick the best 11 players for every match of the season and who determines exactly what each team’s best 11 is anyway. Part of the excitement of the cup for me is seeing young players given their chance at competitive football and if they can handle the pressure. Giving these youngsters their chance in the Premier League is not always viable for some teams as avoiding relegation or staying in the top 4 is the top priority and it’s difficult to test youngsters until they are in a safe enough position to do so.
The other argument is that with the amount of games that the top teams are playing with European and domestic games included players are more likely to get burned out. So why not give the youngsters a chance in the cup games. I would even go so far as to say put a cap on the amount of senior players you can use in the cups, at least start with the League cup as a trial. This will give more youngsters more chances to breakthrough and level the playing field a little so that lower league teams have a chance in the cup. This could also benefit youth football in general as it always seems like an area the UK are lacking in compared to other top European footballing countries.
The other thing we have to remember is that most other European countries don’t have 2 cup competitions unlike England. This is a perfect reason why we should reserve this competition for youth players only. Many people complain that youngsters aren’t getting enough chances and others are complaining that the cup competitions aren’t being respected. We can’t have it both ways. Make the League Cup a youth competition for U21’s only with maybe each team being able to play a maximum of 3 senior players. This way youngsters get their chance to play higher level competitive football which may eventually give them a quicker route into the Premier League teams.