Carabao Cup: City Wins Sixth Cup In Eigth Years
Manchester City’s sixth League Cup win in eight years will be the smallest and least memorable trophy Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect win this season.
A Wembley final against Tottenham, clinched by Aymeric Laporte’s late header, is not even City’s most important cup match this week, with Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain more significant for everyone at the club.
And yet, as City’s players celebrated in front of their supporters at the final whistle forming little huddles of celebration, while Guardiola went from man to man hugging them riotously there was an extra poignance to this triumph, and not just because it was a record fourth League Cup in a row.
This win came at the end of one of the game’s most tumultuous weeks, in a competition that is the crown-jewel of the English Football League and a physical representation of the pyramid, which the owners of City and Spurs conspired to destroy.
The League Cup would be been utterly diminished by a closed-shop European Super League, so to see City’s players celebrate in front of 2,000 of their supporters to Oasis’s Wonderwall at Wembley meant something.
Guardiola’s side had to beat Bournemouth, Burnley, Arsenal, Manchester United and finally Spurs – who fought hard but were outclassed to win this competition.
For all their petrodollars, this was still success fundamentally earned by the players on the field, rather than plotted by their owners in a boardroom.
For Tottenham, fellow collaborators in the failed Super league project, the same sentiments would have held true if they had managed to win a first trophy in 13 years under interim head-coach Ryan Mason.
The fact their players were so obviously crushed at the final whistle, many dropping to the pitch, only underlined the absurdity of their owners’ arrogance in assuming they could end the spirit of competition.
On balance of play, City were deserved winners, utterly controlling the first 45 minutes but sorely missing a finisher. They remained on top in a more even second half, although Giovani Lo Celso went close and Spurs occasionally threatened on the break.