Man City's latest piece of precious metal could be scrapped soon
Manchester City have another piece of silverware to show for the billions invested by the club's Abu Dhabi owners, after lifting a third straight League Cup with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The legacy of Pep Guardiola's reign in charge of the English champions is assured with his eighth trophy of the last 11 competitions City have entered.
"(Since) we won the first title here against Arsenal in the League Cup, we played 11 competitions and won eight," said Guardiola. "Eight out of 11 is something remarkable."
However, the long-term future of the League Cup is less secure with pressure being applied for English football to get in line with the rest of Europe's major leagues and lose one of its two domestic cup competitions.
Despite his success in the competition, Guardiola is even among those calling for its head.
"Eliminate competitions, take out this competition," he said last month, when asked how to ease fixture congestion in between the two legs of his side's semi-final with Manchester United.
"So less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. People can live without football for a while. It's too much."
The League Cup is meant to offer a shot at glory for those not bestowed with the wealth to compete at the top end of the Premier League for titles.
But City have won the competition for five of the past seven seasons, with Chelsea and Manchester United the only other victors in that time.
City's dominance of the competition in recent times comes from a strength in depth that means they are simply too good for most opponents, even when it is not their top priority.
The likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho were restored to the City's starting line-up against Villa, while the 19-year-old Phil Foden, who was given a rare start, picked up the Man-of-the-Match award.
After Aguero and Rodri fired City into a 2-0 lead inside 30 minutes, a repeat of a 6-1 win for the visitors when the sides last met at Villa Park last month looked a distinct possibility.
Mbwana Samatta's goal just before half-time helped restore Villa's pride and some credibility for the competition.
However, a losing battle may be on the horizon for the English Football League, who run the League Cup.
Major changes to the football calendar are expected from 2024 onwards, which could include up to four more rounds of Champions League action.
France has already ditched its League Cup from next season and many of England's biggest clubs give the impression they would shed few tears if the same happens across the Channel.
The thousands of fans who poured onto the Villa Park pitch after their dramatic semi-final victory over Leicester City showed the League Cup does still have an ability to captivate and excite.
However, those moments are becoming far and few between for a 60-year-old tournament struggling to find its place in the modern game, where its richer cousins such as the Champions League and English Premier League have reigned supreme. - AFP