Oct 25, 2017

Spurs bottling the Carabao Cup v West Ham is not the end of the world -- or even a temporary setback

West Ham United came back from a 2-0 halftime to stun Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 and advance to the quarterfinals of the Carabao (ne League) Cup. It was a courageous rally by West Ham and likely saved Slaven Bilic's job, or at least gave him a(nother) stay of execution. Beyond that there is no significance to this match.

Some Spurs fans are in quite a tizzy over this, bemoaning not just the blown lead but the fact that this is one more trophy their team is not going to win. Some felt compelled to ask if the team would ever win one under Mauricio Pochettino. Presumably Pochettino has the team going nowhere. The Twittersphere was quite a read immediately after the final whistle as well:

Our friends at Spurs-web.com have more of these. Reddit was aflame as well. It's almost like soccer fans are drama queens who spend too much time on social media. It's not just social media though. Pundits, too. Jamie Redknapp said Spurs were arrogant and complacent. Former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy said Spurs are now likely to go silverware-less yet again this season (then again we'd expect a former Chelsea player named cund to act like a, well, cund).

Time for everybody to relax and take a step back. Yes, the game was a disappointment with the way Spurs rushed out to an early lead that evaporated in the course of 15 minutes. Maybe Spurs aren't the fifth-best team in the world, because the fifth-best team in the world should be able to field a 'B' squad capable of beating West Ham pretty easily. No, losing to the Hammers is never pleasant, but how can you begrudge a club so desperate for success, any success, that their fans fight young children over Mark Noble's sweaty jersey? In a way this was a charity act by Spurs. Or maybe a cruel way to manipulate West Ham to keep Bilic and get relegated. Either way it's worth remembering that this is the Carabao Cup. What exactly is a carabao? Exactly. It's an irrelevant name for an irrelevant competition, apparently played with a strange ball. Which is why teams are trotting out 'B' lineups for this.

The Carabao Cup may mean a lot to mediocre clubs like West Ham and Liverpool, but for teams in the Champions League, with aspirations of a league title, it is secondary out of necessity. Spurs, with a smaller budget than the other "big six," do not have the depth to compete for trophies like this if they are going to be serious about the Premiership and Champions League. Or even the FA Cup. Was the League Cup the easiest way to a trophy? Probably, seeing how opposing teams field weakened lineups. For this reason it's a cheap way to silverware. Again, a terrific alternative for clubs like West Ham. Not for Tottenham. Besides Spurs fans, do you really want your first trophy under Poch to be the Carabao Cup? Come on now. This club can do better. And it will do better.

Because with the Carabao now out of the way, Spurs will be able to concentrate on the competitions that truly matter: The Premiership, where they can assert themselves as the primary challenger to Manchester City. The Champions League, where they are all but assured passage to the knockout round. The FA Cup, which Tottenham dominated in the 60s but hasn't won since 1991. Even if Spurs don't win any silverware this season, having the Carabao Cup would be no solace to poor showings in those three tournaments. For this reason the loss to West Ham is meaningful only in that it frees Spurs up to focus on bigger and better things. So really it's good to have gotten this out of the way now rather than be forced to waste resources on it in additional rounds. Apparently this view is shared by a certain Argentine head coach of the team:

This Saturday, Tottenham visit Old Trafford with a chance to take sole possession of second place in the Premiership table. A win would also establish Spurs as the main challengers to Man City's title aspirations this season. The mere fact that Spurs can be considered favorites in this game is a testament to how far this club has come under Pochettino. It will go further still. The Carabao Cup has no place in these aspirations. Poch and Co have far bigger fish to fry.

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