As Roy Hodgson’s England decided they quite liked that chant Iceland fans were doing all Euro 2016 and thus beating them was a task they simply couldn’t be arsed with, the buffoons at the Football Association decided to look at what they could do to improve the performance of the national team and national game as a whole, otherwise people might see that they are grossly incompetent.
Alongside the wonderful way they went about not disrupting one of the clubs they represent in pre-season by poaching their manager and publicly doing so, a few weeks beforehand they decided to give birth to the Checkatrade Trophy, with its vomit inducing name, for the benefit of the next national treasure or the next Wayne Rooney. Because what better way to fix English football than to have youngsters and a few unfit first teamers playing on a Tuesday night at Spotland in front of one thousand people? Give me strength.
I’m no expert on the Football League Trophy in any shape size or form, but I’m guessing alongside the idea of adding in "under 23" Premier League teams, the idea of 16 different groups of regionally split teams is also an alleged FA brain wave. What is a little bit more of an FA brain fart however is that if a game is drawn, it goes immediately to penalties and the winning team gets a "bonus" point as if they were on some sort of game show, as we saw in Tuesday's defeat to Rochdale. Who comes up with this stuff?
I essentially kept half an eye on twitter to make sure Jan Kirchhoff wasn’t injured, not really caring whether we actually won or not as the young lads ground out a 1-1 draw. It really was a completely pointless exercise - I sincerely do not mean that in a snobby Premier-League-fan-looking-down-on-League-One way, because the Rochdale fans did not give a rat’s arse about the game either.
Another team in our group, Hartlepool, have already suffered at the hands of the new format when they had two players sent off last week against Notts County. Manager Craig Hignett said "What do you expect with a farce game? If these things don’t count towards league games, this is what you’re going to get, it’s farcical."
My feelings are really strong about this and I have to be careful what I say but the old competition was fine the way it was. "I had to play five people, who had played on Saturday, and I could barely get that out tonight and yet Under 23 teams are doing it for development of their kids. Where’s the development of my kids?" and it really is hard to argue with him.
Only six years ago, Southampton beat Carlisle in the JPT Final at Wembley, and in the side that day were Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Michail Antonio whilst also featuring Euro 2016 winner Jose Fonte. Those players will have undoubtedly gained from not only playing at Wembley and winning that day, but also the run that lead to that success.
However, the chances of a side like that having a day out at Wembley, maybe even winning that competition has been significantly reduced because Premier League youngsters have been thrust in to the competition which allegedly needed "rejuvenation". Bullshit. Our game was used to give Jan Kirchhoff and Jason Denayer some playing time for us.
The English cup competitions continue to regress year on year. I’m still having nightmares about playing half a side in an FA Cup Quarter final at Hull a week after I got home from Wembley for the first time.
It’s simply not fair to do this to the lower league teams - the fans of those clubs have full right to boycott this competition in this current format and I will support them in it.
Managers like Craig Hignett are publicly displaying their disgust at the format, whilst the Premier League clubs simply don't need it - most importantly, our youngsters don’t either – this is why we have the loan system, is it not?
I urge the FA to be more considerate about all of the clubs that they supposedly represent, because stupid decisions often have consequences. Nobody knows this better than us after the summer that we've had. We have the resources to recover - Rochdale, Notts County or indeed our neighbours Hartlepool might not.