Date:Friday August 10 2012
I've been trying to work out whether having the League Cup first round as the opening competitive fixture of the season is a decision of benefit. On the one hand, Blackpool have an extra week in the transfer market before embarking on the league - and with just the one fit striker, thank goodness for that - and are able to ease the first team into duties. However, on the other and for the second positive reason, it further degenerates a competition which has died a death over the last decade.
Benefit to clubs, yes. Certainly not to the competition itself though, for the sole reason that managers are to treat their games - and the Seasiders' home tie against Morecambe is a perfect example - as final pre-season friendlies against inferior opposition; in the blistering sunshine (this particular piece is being written ably accompanied by an ice-cold Coke in the garden) and with plenty of water breaks.
Expect to see a half-paced, pass-completion-obsessed 90 minutes of football which is, from the players' point of view at least, an exercise in not doing anything wrong, maintaining fitness and coming away still in contention to start at Millwall.
As for who will play, it is anybody's guess. The Football League stopped one short of it being a full-blown friendly by maintaining the three substitute rule - comically, probably to the slight annoyance of managers - so in all likelihood Ian Holloway will opt with half the eleven made up of certain starters for next week and the other half with fitness and/or performance issues which need addressing.
That could leave the door open for Chris Basham, who told press this week that he is desperate to cement a starting berth this season, and Elliot Grandin to stake a claim in midfield. Both have stiff competition from the likes of Isaiah Osbourne and Scott Robertson but not an awful lot will be able to be gleaned from the team picked. Pool are playing two behind closed doors friendlies with everyone expected to be involved.
While it might be nice in the sun, slightly-watchable football and hopefully a win into the next round, the League Cup isn't exactly the big curtain raiser the Football League deserves, even if it is more beneficial for those directly involved.
And it's being played on a Sunday: what's up with that?
Date:Friday August 10 2012
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