Not One For The Spectators

Last updated : 29 August 2008 By Andy Beill
I didn't go to Swansea last night. I don't think most League Cup games are for the benefit of supporters, though with exception. Beating Crystal Palace, briefly a Premiership team at the time, in 1997 to set up a great trip to Newcastle, and a two-legged tie with Liverpool a couple of seasons later were highlights of our years in Division Three. Going to the Reebok Stadium, Bolton and Pride Park, Derby were also enjoyable experiences, even though we were quite inconsequentially beaten by not-especially-good sides. Maybe because defeat didn't really matter we enjoyed it so!

When you're in that situation, seeing a decent stadium and some players you've not really heard of wearing Liverpool's kit is great. It doesn't happen very often - I think City have probably been luckier with cup draws than most clubs over the last 10 or so years - but when it does it's a good occasion for the fans. Most of the time, though, there's little in it for a supporter.

For the clubs it must be quite beneficial. Smaller clubs willing to make an effort of it may be rewarded with a good tie and a financial windfall. The biggest clubs get to give their young players "first team" experience. The big-but-not-'big four' clubs may see it as their best chance of a Wembley final, UEFA Cup qualification, and some silverware. Clubs like us and Swansea, without much hope of progressing that far in the competition and with more serious league matters in mind, get to give some squad members a game.

Phil Brown will have got a lot out of it last night. His strikers, Dean Windass and Caleb Folan, got some necessary match practice ahead of Saturday's game (the former making more of it than the latter, by the sounds of it). Marlon King also got some more match time ahead of the two-and-a-half week wait for his next game.

Again just based on what I've read and heard, Nick Barmby did his best to stay in the side when we return to league business, while Matt Duke and Liam Cooper, though not realistically about to take a first team place, played well too. The rest seem to have played themselves out of Phil Brown's plans and, as he said after the match, "highlight what we need... strength in depth". We certainly have depth already, but strength?

I fully expect to see City attempt to bring in at least one new player before the transfer window shuts. Brown may be inclined to make it more than one, and perhaps move some players out at the same time.

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