The Carabao Cup is a nice distraction from the chaos of more important competitions

Sometimes it's nice to just watch a match and not care very much what happens...


Watching football can be hard going these days. Even the game’s most irrelevant ephemera – scarves, kits, banners, awards – are taken so seriously that you’d be forgiven for believing that the game is literally the most important thing the universe has ever known.

Football’s misguided culture of ultra-seriousness is hard to escape. But sometimes it’s nice to just watch your team play a match and not care very much what happens.

That can be difficult with competitions deemed to be ‘major’, like the Premier League or Champions League – which is where the glorious triviality of the Carabao Cup comes in.

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What a blessed relief it is to witness what is essentially your club’s under-15 reserve side ship four goals at home to a team two tiers below you and, well, not give a sh*t. ‘This is how the Dalai Lama must feel at all times’, you think serenely as a full-back who hasn’t scored in six years wraps up a first-half perfect hat-trick against your brave boys.

There’s nothing quite like the sense of euphoric tranquility that descends on you after your teenage fifth-choice keeper chucks the ball into his net for the second time that evening, yet you realise you’re more concerned about whether or not to sprinkle chilli flakes on your avocado toast.

Most of the time, it doesn’t even look as if the managers care. After all, if they did, they wouldn’t start the groundsman’s grandson – who’s actually more of a trequartista anyway – at left-back as a favour for his years of service.

All this may seem a little condescending, but actually there’s plenty to be said for a competition that allows supporters to just relax a bit, rather than descending into furious 65-tweet exchanges about which team’s socks are nicer. It’s a pretty good feeling to lose a game and not be particularly bothered – you know, instead of the feelings of puerile rage that normally boil your blood after a league or European loss.

When your team does win, it’s a bonus.

But most of the time you’re happy not to be unhappy, enjoying the opportunity to see players who wouldn’t generally get into your team’s XI – and who will probably soon leave on loan to Waasland-Beveren – doing their stuff.

Occasionally one of them stands out, like Eddie Nketiah for Arsenal on Tuesday, and you’re left with a pleasant feeling of having witnessed something significant.

Whatever happens, it’s all a bit of a diversion from the ‘big’ competitions. So here’s to the Carabao Cup, an oasis of calm in the mad, arid expanse that is the football ecosystem.

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