Carling Cup, Steve Coppell & Championship League round up

The rather indifferent form of nPower Championship league teams in the first round of the Carling Cup this week – eight teams knocked out and four teams needing extra time to conquer opposition from lower divisions – was overshadowed on Thursday with the news of the first managerial casualty of the season. Steve Coppell resigned from Bristol City in particular and from football management in general, with the club website quoting Coppell as saying that he ‘could not become passionate about the role and give the commitment the position it demands’.

If an opening day defeat and being beaten by lower league opposition in the Carling Cup represents some sort of benchmark then Mark Robbins (Barnsley) and Billy Davies (Nottingham Forest) should take note.

Bristol City immediately appointed Steve Coppell’s assistant Keith Millen as their new manager: the former Brentford and Watford defender finished his career at Bristol City and was caretaker manager at the club after Gary Johnson left with nine games to go last season.

The first weekend of the new season resulted in five away wins – including a 3-1 Ipswich Town win at Middlesbrough – and only one draw. QPR thumped Barnsley 4-0 and Crystal Palace were 3-0 up at half time at home to Leicester but had to hold on for the last six minutes after the visitors twice in the second half. Hull and Burnley both won – as did three of the four clubs I picked to struggle!

Nottingham Forest, QPR and Sheffield United were the biggest casualties in the first round of the Carling Cup and the draw for the second round features three all Championship games – which means that only nine sides from the division will feature in the third round. It’s been nine seasons since a team from outside the Premiership reached the final of the competition and at this stage it looks unlikely that any of the Championship sides will end that streak.

Looking forward to this weekend, there are three games between teams that started their seasons with wins. Watford take on Coventry City at Vicarage Road, Hull City travel to Millwall and arguably the game of the day on Saturday is Ipswich v Burnley – although eight of the last ten meetings between these two at Portman Road have finished in draws and Burnley haven’t won at Ipswich since January 1970. Sunday’s televised game is between Leeds and Nottingham Forest (ko 1:15pm on Sky Sports 1) could also be a cracker.

There could also be some very early clues about which teams could face an uphill struggle. Having lost at home to Watford, Norwich City travel to Glanford Park to play Scunthorpe United, who won at Reading last weekend and defeated Oldham in the Carling Cup during the week. To add to their woes, Bristol City will be without striker Nicky Maynard until November at the earliest and will not relish the journey to Doncaster Rovers – South Yorkshire has not been a happy hunting ground for the Robins in the past.

Choose a favourite League Cup moment and win Carling Cup Final tickets

carling-cup-imageThe Football League Cup kicked off it’s fiftieth year this week in it’s current form as the Carling Cup.

To celebrate the competition’s Golden Anniversary, The Football League is asking fans to nominate their favourite League Cup moments, with 50 pairs of tickets up for grabs for this season’s Carling Cup Final. The League will reveal the all-time Top 50 League Cup moments in the lead-up to the match at Wembley Stadium on February 28.

Whether its Ben Foster’s iPod inspired penalty heroics in last season’s final, Ronnie Whelan’s glorious curling winner for Liverpool in 1983, Dennis Tueart’s stunning overhead kick for Manchester City in 1976 or Division Three Swindon Town’s famous win over Arsenal in the Don Rogers Final of 1969, The League wants to hear your views.

So get your thinking caps on, I am going for the classic 1967 final when QPR came back from two down to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 in the first league cup to be held at Wembley.

Send your nominations for your special League Cup moments to;  leaguecup@football-league.co.uk

Play the Carling Cup Predictor Challenge and Win tickets to Carling Cup Final

carling_cup_logo_black_470wTo celebrate the new 2009/10 Carling Cup tournament and new official competition website www.carlingcup.com, Carling is inviting football fans to take part in the Carling Cup Predictor Challenge, which lets fans show off their football knowledge for the chance to win Carling prizes and tickets to the Carling Cup Final.

All you need to do to take part in the competition is simply predict the score of the Carling Cup matches for each round. It’s free to play, and winners from each round will receive a case of Carling, a Carling sports bag and t-shirt.

The overall Carling Cup Predictor champion will receive 2 tickets to the Carling Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

Fans are also invited to set up a mini league with their friends.

Rob Salmon, Marketing Communications Partner at Carling, said: “We wanted a fun way to give fans a chance to get involved in the Carling Cup and we hope the Carling Cup Predictor Challenge will do exactly that! It is up and running now on the official competition website so why not take a few minutes to pay a visit to www.carlingcup.com and demonstrate your skills at predicting football scores and results?”

predictor_promo

Fancy Your Chances? Here are the rules:

The Predictor Challenge deadline for round one fixtures is Monday 10th August, so enter now to be in with a chance of winning.
The Carling.com website and the Carling Cup Predictor Challenge are only open to people over the legal drinking age.
To play The Carling Cup Predictor Challenge or find out more, visit www.carlingcup.com. Terms and conditions apply.

Burnley & Derby beat Premiership teams in League Cup

For the past few seasons Arsene Wenger has used the League Cup to showcase and blood his young players, giving them a chance of glory and also to prove themselves worthy of a sought after first team place.  A couple of seasons ago they made it to the final, only to be beaten by a full strength Chelsea team.  But last night Arsenal were outgunned by Coca-Cola Championship Burnley, and in particular one of Burnley‘s own young guns – Kevin McDonald.

The young Scottish striker scored two goals, one at the beginning of each half; and though Burnley also have their young Danish goalkeeper Brian Jensen to thank, they deserved to beat Arsenal 2-0 and go through to the League Cup semi-finals.

Burnley have now beaten three Premier League teams in this season’s League Cup – Fulham, Chelsea & Arsenal and must be confident of a trip to Wembley. Football league betting also expects them to be there or there abouts in the league, so it could be two trips!

Unfortunately, as always, Arsene Wenger missed the chance to praise Burnley’s plucky performance and simply stated that Arsenal didn’t deserve to lose, in his post match interview.  A shame because all too often Arsene Wenger complains in defeat that teams kick Arsenal off the park and stop them from playing the beautiful game.  But last night at Turf Moor is sub-zero temperature, Burnley turned up the heat and simply out-played Arsenal’s young team, something Wenger should have admired in defeat.

Burnley are currently fourth in the Championship and very much in contention for Premiership promotion this season.  But after last night’s performance, 20-year-old Kevin McDonald has put himself well and truly in the shop window marked ‘January Sale’.

The other League Cup quarter-final played last night between Stoke and Derby also resulted in a Championship team beating a Premier League side; but this game was decided by a striker at the other end of his career – Nathan Ellington.

Both Stoke and Derby had several chances to win the game, none came closer than Ricardo Fuller’s shot that was saved by Derby‘s veteran goalkeeper Roy Carroll in injury time, just before Derby were awarded a penalty in the 94 minute after Andy Griffin was alleged to handle the ball by referee Rob Styles.

After the game Stoke City manager Tony Pulis disputed the penalty while Derby manager Paul Jewell simply said, ‘if it wasn’t a penalty we deserve a bit of luck’.

Derby make it into the League Cup semi-finals for the first time in 40 years, whie for Burnley it was 1983.

Another Championship team will attempt to book their place in the last four tonight when Watford take on the League Cup holders Tottenham.  The other quarter-final sees Manchester United play struggling Blackburn Rovers.