The concept of a ‘European Super League’ has been high on the agenda for a few high-profile figures in recent years. But some radical ideas have also been put forward with respect to domestic competitions in the UK.
With some clubs – and not just in the top tier – fielding second string sides in the EFL Cup, the status of this particular knockout tournament has gradually come into question.
Elite managers like Pep Guardiola have already called for the League Cup to be abolished to ease fixture congestion. Elsewhere, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has suggested it would be “better for everyone” if the competition was called off altogether.
But, instead of scrapping the competition completely, West Ham manager David Moyes has called for a rejig to the structure. His idea is to bring other clubs from the Home Nations into the equation.
Moyes believes a revamped “British Cup” could be the answer to solving the League Cup’s recent decline in popularity among coaches and officials. It is an audacious proposal, but all the more fascinating for it. There are nuances and novelties about the idea that would make it unique to British football. So, naturally, we took to Football Manager for answers. How would a “British Cup” look? And of course, how would Celtic and Rangers fare against English opposition?
The competition format
Of course, the “British Cup”, as suggested by Moyes, would not be a brand new competition altogether, or even require a massive overhaul, but would simply be a revamped version, so the round structures would largely remain unaltered.
Clubs from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England would compete in the preliminary rounds, and of course, as the competition moves forward, higher seeded clubs will step into the frame — similarly to that of the FA Cup and the current League Cup set-up.
However, for this FM20 experiment we thought it would be fun to throw all the heavyweights in from the first round and see how they got on. There were few surprises across the first wave of matches, but some very interesting matchups…
- Arsenal 5-0 Buckley
- Glenavon 1-2 Rangers
- Carmarthen Town 0-3 Liverpool
- Livingston 3-2 Southampton
- Aston Villa 3-0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle
- Tottenham 3-0 Connah’s Quay Nomads
- Aberdeen 1-2 (e) West Ham
- Millwall 3-0 Hamilton
- Leicester 3-0 Ruthin Town
As mentioned the big hitters all went through relatively unscathed, with Man City also beating Everton 2-1, Man Utd claiming victory over Huddersfield 3-0, Chelsea producing a similar scoreline against Barnsley, and Celtic progressing past St. Johnstone 2-1.
The second round offered up another batch of tasty ties to fill our boots, both for clubs of the same nation. Chelsea lost to west London rivals Brentford, and for those having to cross borders, notably Queen Of The South travelling down to the Den for a tight defeat against Millwall.
Other than Chelsea’s defeat to Brentford there were, again, few shocks in these opening stages, but the rest of Britain’s elite navigated some fascinating bouts.
And there were plenty of eye-catching contests, with Jermaine Defoe getting one last dig against former club West Ham, as Steven Gerrard’s Rangers beat the Hammers in London. Elsewhere, Kelechi Iheanacho netted a superb hat-trick in the Foxes’ 7-0 mauling of Newry City.
- Morton 0-2 Man City
- Celtic 3-0 Larne
- West Ham 1-2 Rangers
- Dundee Utd 0-4 Liverpool
- Kilmarnock 1-2 Tottenham
- Ayr 1-2 (e) Watford
- Leicester 7-0 Newry City AFC
This is where things started to really heat up and Premier League sides began taking control of the tournament, though not without a few giantkillings in the process.
Guardiola’s side came up short on penalties to Peterborough, while Brentford pulled off another major result, this time against Leicester. Elsewhere, Man Utd fell to Luton in a shootout capitulation of their own, while Liverpool beat Tottenham in a clash of titans. But, what of the other key results…
- Dundee 0-2 Burnley
- Rangers 2-1 Nottingham Forest
- Arsenal 1-0 Millwall
- Leeds 1-0 Motherwell
- Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham
- Ross County 1-2 (e) QPR
- Peterborough (p) 2-2 Man City
- Man Utd 2-2 (p) Luton
- Celtic 1-0 Swansea
Onto the fourth round and there are now only two clubs outside of England still in the tournament, with those of course being Celtic and Rangers. The former avoided some big names and drew Wigan, while the latter were made to venture down to London once more, this time to face Arsenal.
Gerrard wasn’t quite able to mastermind a victory on his return to the Emirates, with his side losing 2-0, but the Gers can take comfort in knowing that they took the scalps of some big teams en route to this stage.
- Peterborough 0-2 Liverpool
- Wigan 0-2 Celtic
- Arsenal 2-0 Rangers
Into the quarter finals and Celtic unfortunately drew the short straw as their ball was pulled out alongside Liverpool (at Anfield!). Look away now, Kenny Dalglish.
The clubs have shared songs, players and managers over the years, but this time they will be trading blows on the pitch; and it was an absorbing contest on Merseyside, with the match heading all the way to penalties.
Callum McGregor initially broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute, and it looked as though the Scottish club were on the brink of an historic win, but substitute Yasser Larouci netted 10 minutes from time to break Glaswegian hearts.
With regulation and extra time failing to separate the sides, the match entered a shootout, with Jurgen Klopp’s men coming out on top.
- Liverpool (p) 1-1 Celtic
- Aston Villa (p) 1-1 West Brom
- Birmingham 2-0 QPR
- Arsenal 2-0 Brentford
Despite non-English clubs all exiting the competition, there were still some epic encounters in the penultimate stage, with the Reds securing a 7-2 aggregate win over Birmingham. Aston Villa also repeated reality by reaching the final, beating Arsenal 4-2 on aggregate, including an incredible 2-1 win away from home at the Emirates.
The final itself proved a much more entertaining affair than the one produce last month between Villa and City, with Dean Smith’s men pushing Liverpool all the way to extra-time.
This was a massive opportunity for Klopp to clinch his first piece of domestic silverware since relocating to Liverpool, but it would once again be a defeat in a final for the German coach, adding yet another unwanted blot to his record.
In fairness, Klopp opted to rest all of his star players (boy, he really just doesn’t get the domestic cup competitions). Villa, meanwhile, reaped the rewards for going full strength. A 116th-minute winner from Mbwana Samatta sealed the iconic victory for Villa.
- Top goalscorer: Lee Erwin (Ross County) – 6
- Top assist provider: Naby Keita (Liverpool) – 6
- Most clean sheets: Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal) – 5
- Most MOTM awards: Riyad Mahrez (Man City) – 2
- Youngest goalscorer: Mason Greenwood (Man Utd) – 17 yrs, 304 days
- Oldest goalscorer: Jermain Defoe (Rangers) – 36 yrs, 352 days
- Fastest goal: Sammy Ameobi (Nottm Forest) – 11 seconds vs Cliftonville