The Capital One cup is now often derided as the 'Mickey Mouse Cup', a poor relative to its more prestigious cousin, the FA Cup. Having lost its shine over the years is this still a competitive competition? We often see the bigger clubs in England use the competition as a chance to field their 'B' team as they rest their stars for the regular premier league schedule.
The Wanderers have a rather mixed history in this competition. For the past 2 seasons the Trotters have embarrassingly fallen at the first hurdle, as lower league sides like Crawley Town and more recently Tranmere Rovers have upset the bookies in beating the Whites. Apart from our impressive run in 2004 the Trotters haven't really taken the competition seriously, this was seen in October 2002 when Bury knocked the Wanderers out in then called Worthington Cup first round, let's hope that lightning doesn't strike twice.
The league cup was founded 54 years ago by Stanley Rous and has been won by 23 different teams in its duration, but never Bolton Wanderers. Despite reaching the final twice in 1995 and then later on in 2004 where the Trotters were beaten by Liverpool and Middlesbrough respectively.
The completion has many critics as fans and occasionally managers come across as disinterested with the traditional domestic trophy. Many complaints have arisen about managers not taking the competition seriously as they field a second string team, this also has a knock on effect to the attendances which always seen to slump whenever the completion comes to the Macron Stadium. If your team goes on a cup run then that can consequently take its toll on the team's league form, which more often than not is for the worse. The added games can also lead to fixture congestion in an already hectic championship schedule which includes mid-week games. The increased workload on the players to accommodate these extra fixtures can cause players to fatigue. Examples of cup runs having negative effects on the team's league standings can be traced back to the 2011 where Birmingham City lifted the trophy with the aid of Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczęsny. After winning the cup in February they were promptly relegated to the championship in May.
Despite the negative aspects many still love the cup and harbour dreams of the Whites lifting a piece of silver wear, something which hasn't been accomplished since 1989. One of the cup's positive aspects is that it always gives the manager a chance to rotate his squad and give some of the younger players their chance to shine, this was last seen in 2011 when we saw Joe Riley get his chance against Macclesfield Town. The cup is also certainly a valuable tool for trying-out fringe players and managers can use that to their advantage, most notably, Arsène Wenger's policy over the years has been to blood the younger members of his squad throughout the duration of the cup run.
As well as the youth there is an added incentive of a route into Europe through the cup competition. We've seen the likes of Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City compete in both the SkyBet Championship and the Europe League, although it's unbelievably unrealistic at the moment, wouldn't you love to witness more European nights under the Macron floodlights? In addition, the cup can sometime provide valuable revenue from a big away day and even tournament prize money for progressing through the rounds, something which could help to decrease the club's staggering £163.8m of debt.
To conclude, in my opinion football, as with all sport, relies on healthy competition to make it worthwhile. Without it, the game is rendered pointless. With that in mind, the League Cup deserves its place to the fabric of the English game. First and foremost the people that count the most, the fans, will always want to see their team win and a day out to a Wembley final will always ensure that the League Cup remains revered.
But what do you think? Is this a realistic competition for Bolton Wanderers or is it just a waste of time? Please vote in our poll and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments or even tweet me with your views on the debate.