Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick wants Carabao Cup scrapped despite advantage over four rivals

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Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has questioned the need for top-flight participation in the Carabao Cup, despite an apparent advantage that the competition may bring to the Red Devils over the coming weeks. The German was also openly critical of the Premier League’s substitution policy during a firm a frank press conference held on Thursday afternoon. 

Covid has wreaked havoc on United’s schedule this month, with matches against Brentford and Brighton both postponed. 

Fans have been crying out for positive news, and Rangnick suggested that he could have a full playing squad to choose from when they travel to Newcastle on Monday. 

But with two postponed fixtures needing to be rescheduled, an already busy season could become even more chaotic over the coming months as United attempt to keep pace in cup competitions as well as the Premier League. 

When it comes to the Carabao Cup, the Red Devils were already knocked out by West Ham long before Rangnick’s arrival, but the boss has already questioned its place in the English game. 

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“You know better than I do what a big tradition it is to play on Boxing Day and the 27th and I think we should stick to this and respect this tradition,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to that, for the first time in my coaching career, but there could be other issues that have been discussed in the past.

“England is the only top league [in Europe] that plays two cup competitions. In France they abolished the second one, so we are the only country that plays two cup competitions.

“This is something we could speak about and discuss. The League Cup is still kept for the third and fourth division teams to improve the financial situations of those clubs.

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“But a tight calendar, with too many games, this is something to speak about and discuss.”

Axing the Carabao Cup for top-flight sides would mean a dramatic change in format and publicity for a competition first held in 1960, and it would also leave feats like Manchester City’s 2019 domestic treble unprecedented. 

The timing of Rangnick’s wish could also be considered odd, given that top-four rivals Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have all advanced to the semi-finals, and therefore have two more fixtures to navigate in January. 

That could go a long way towards ensuring that United remain as fit and fresh as their competitors, with the inconvenience of a Covid-related fixture backlog already looming large. 

Despite having played two games less, Rangnick’s side already have ground to make up on Arsenal in fourth, who have put together a solid run of form in recent weeks.

The German also took time to criticise the substitution policy in English football, amid persistent calls to expand regulations and allow for five per match. 

“The five subs were implemented when Covid started, and I think it was the right decision to do that to save energy for players, especially if they have just recovered from Covid,” he added.

“The same is true right now – we are in a similar situation to the one we had one-and-a-half years ago, therefore I don’t see why it shouldn’t be as it was one-and-a-half years ago. As far as I know, in Europe England is the only country where they only allow three subs.”

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