Pep Guardiola has called the League Cup “a waste of energy” as the Manchester City manager joined old rival Jose Mourinho in questioning the worth of the competition.
The League Cup was created in 1960 to take advantage of the fact that floodlights had increased the possibility for midweek football.
However, the tournament has always been seen as secondary to the FA Cup in England, and its importance has gradually diminished over the last two decades as the top sides started to rest their key players until the latter stages.
In an attempt to keep the bigger clubs interested, the Football League has allowed English teams playing in European competition to be exempt until the third round since 1996, while replays were scrapped in 1997.
Yet Manchester United manager Mourinho suggested on Wednesday that English clubs in the Champions League and Europa League should be allowed to opt out of the tournament.
Guardiola has supported those comments as City bid to navigate a frantic run of games.
The City manager made eight changes for Wednesday’s 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup third round, allowing him to keep players fresh before Saturday’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace.
City host Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday before travelling to Chelsea for a league game the following Saturday.
Mourinho guided United to win the competition last season, but Guardiola does not believe it was worth the effort.
The Spaniard has suggested that it was victory in the Europa League, rather than the domestic cup, that made Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford a success.
– Not much credit –
“We have a lot of games. If you have to play in a competition you have to play in it,” Guardiola said on Friday.
“It’s good for the players you don’t use a lot. It’s a prize where, when you win, it’s OK, but after that the people don’t give too much credit.
“I think the prize is good when you win another one. But you waste a lot of energy.
“You can imagine going against a Tony Pulis team (West Brom) and playing 90 minutes in those conditions, then you spend three or four hours on the bus.
“Then three days later, it’s Crystal Palace, three days later, Shakhtar Donetsk, three or four days later, Stamford Bridge.
“So for the managers, there’s a lot of wasted energy. But we knew that before, so it’s not a complaint in those terms. If we have to play, we have to play.”
City and United go into the weekend joint-top of the Premier League, each with 13 points from five matches and an identical goals record.
Guardiola’s team are on a run of five successive wins, and have defeated Liverpool 5-0 and Watford 6-0 in recent weeks.
That has made them favourites to beat Palace, who are bottom of the Premier League without a point or a goal.
But their new manager Roy Hodgson guided them to a midweek League Cup win over Huddersfield Town, and Guardiola has warned his players to be wary.
“The team are not pulled by strings. One little detail down and everything is down. You have to be careful,” he said.
“They have to go to sleep tonight and know that tomorrow, we can lose that game. If that happens, we will be closer to actually winning.”
Former England manager Hodgson, at 70, is the oldest man ever to be appointed to take charge of a Premier League club.
Guardiola, at 46, admires the new Palace boss for his long career, but insists that he has no intention of still being a coach in his seventies.
“Definitely not. I promise you. I love golf. But I admire him,” he said.