Spireites Football League Trophy hero says new format '˜kills' the competition
A man who scored to help Chesterfield win the Football League Trophy believes the new format is '˜killing' the competition.
Craig Westcarr netted in the Spireites’ 2012 Wembley win over Swindon, creating one of the best memories to date, of his 15-year career.
But the introduction of Under 21 sides from Premier League and Championship clubs and a format that includes a group stage, will devalue the newly named EFL Trophy in his eyes.
“I would rather it stays the same,” he said.
“It’s a Football League competition at the end of the day, that’s the whole point of it.
“You wouldn’t put Football League Under 21 sides in the Champions League, would you?
“I’m not really a fan of it, it kills the tournament a little bit, having to go through a group stage.
“The Under 21s should have to play a tournament amongst themselves to get into the knockouts with the Football League clubs.”
The 31-year-old forward, who spent one and a half seasons with Chesterfield, can understand why the changes have been made.
“Some clubs will agree with the changes because of the money side, you can understand that,” he said.
“You might draw a top Premier side away, a club like Chesterfield would take quite a few fans and you’d think the Premier club would have thousands there.
“It would be better than Morecambe away on a Tuesday night, no disrespect.
“The FA are trying to promote more youngsters, that’s the whole point of it, to give them more experience.
“They have to be seen to do something, it hasn’t been a good summer for English football.”
The drawbacks are plentiful as well, however, and they all appear to be stacked up against the Football League sides.
Westcarr said: “It’s another three or four games in the season you shouldn’t really be playing and Under 21s football is a bit of a nonsense anyway.
“It wouldn’t look right with two Under 21 sides in the final and there’s a good chance of that if clubs like Manchester United are involved.
“It’s great experience for the Premier League youngsters, but say Walsall got beat by Stoke Under 21s, is that embarrassing? Should they expect to beat them? Who’s the favourite?
“The psychological side of it could affect teams for their next game on the Saturday.”
The Football League’s new format will be trialed for a season, something that showcases the problem with football in this country, in Westcarr’s eyes.
“There’s a massive confusion with the FA and English football as a whole, we don’t know what road to go down.
“We’re playing at everything, there’s no solid plan.
“Germany ripped up the book and came up with a plan and four or five years later had success.
“Not a lot of thought goes into English football, we play at stuff like this and then it makes a mockery of this competition.”
It’s no surprise the man recently released by Mansfield Town has an opinion on the EFL Trophy – the competition provided one of his career highlights.
“I remember not making the starting line-up but thinking I would get a chance at some point, and then Jack Lester got injured early on,” he recalled.
“I was excited but my whole body felt tight for the rest of the first half. I relaxed a bit after the break and obviously we ended up winning it.
“It was one of the best memories I’ve had, it’s a great day out.
“It’s a great tournament to play in.
“At the start of the season you might be thinking you could do without it, some managers think that, but when you get to a certain stage and win a few games than you want to go for it.”