Everton pay the penalty

Posted on September 22, 2010


By Tim Harris

CARELESS team selection sees David Moyes’ Everton dismissed from the Carling Cup by Brentford on penalties, proving once again that Premier League managers take the competition far too casually.

In what should have been a comfortable away victory at Griffin Park, the Merseyside club crashed out of the Carling Cup last night in only the third round.  And this was largely a consequence of the team that David Moyes selected to face The Bees – the Everton manager left out Tim Howard, Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, and Jermaine Beckford from his starting eleven.

David Moyes' gamble cost Everton dearly

As a result, Everton lacked a crucial cutting edge, and found themselves held to extra-time, and eventually penalties by the League One oppostion.

The victory was sealed for the London club when Phil Jagielka and Beckford (who was brought on in an attempt to salvage the game) both missed their spot-kicks.

And without taking any credit away from Brentford for a successful giant killing, this result exhibits more evidence that Premier League teams don’t take the Carling Cup anywhere as near as seriously as they should.

The cavalier approach to team selection demonstrated by David Moyes last night is absolutely ludicrous, considering top flight teams such as Everton’s most realistic chance of silverware is probably in this competition.

Obviously, anyone who watched Tottenham reserves Vs Arsenal reserves yesterday evening could argue that Harry Redknapp and Arsene Wenger should come under similar scrutiny.

However, in their case, I feel resting key players can be forgiven, when taken into account that both sides have European ties to think about, and also a realistic chance of contending for the Premier League title.

I am not suggesting that Everton should completely lack ambition in the Premiership because they don’t stand a chance of winning it.  But in a tournament that they do have a decent opportunity to challenge for, why squander it by fielding a sub-standard line-up?

Moyes might have assumed that Brentford would be a pushover after Everton dominated their League One colleagues Huddersfield Town 5-1 at Goodison Park in the previous round.

But complacency perhaps after such a resounding win has cost Everton a crack at progressing any further in a potentially winnable competition.

In admission, over recent seasons, the Carling Cup has been controlled a little more tightly by Manchester United and Chelsea, who have both emerged as victors on more than one occasion.

However, this is partially a reminder of just how strong the United and Chelsea back benches are.

But in the past 10 years or so, Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Leicester have proved that underdogs are capable of claiming the Carling Cup honours.

Middlesbrough lifted the trophy in 2004

Over the same period of time, Aston Villa, Wigan, Bolton, Birmingham and Tranmere Rovers have all reached the final, supporting my point even further.

And guile has also been shown by smaller contenders in the FA Cup.  Portsmouth lifted the trophy in 2008, and Cardiff City, West Ham, Millwall and Southampton have all featured as recent finalists.

So it remains a mystery as to why Premiership managers jeopardise their club’s chances of reaching the latter stages of these very accessible cups.

And David Moyes isn’t the only gaffer guilty of the crime.  Mick McCarthy took a gamble by leaving Marcus Hahnemann, Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle out of his Wolves starting team that entertained Notts County at the Molineux last night.

Mick McCarthy is no stranger to having his team selection questioned

Notts County forced extra-time, and the Wolverhampton boss’s blushes were only saved by Kevin Doyle, who came on and scored twice in the extended period to ensure victory.

Defeat to Brentford sees a continuation of Everton’s dismal start to this season.  And Moyes is well aware of the disappointing nature of this result.

“We don’t want to be getting knocked out of cup competitions like this” he said.

“Of course I am concerned.”

The Scot’s folly in selecting his team does no favours in diminishing the nickname deservedly awarded to the Carling Cup.

Should this trend continue, fully expect in future seasons to see the final billed at the Disneyland Resort Stadium.