Why Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United shouldn't muck about in the EFL Cup

Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday have both enjoyed League Cup runs in the past couple of years
Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday have both enjoyed League Cup runs in the past couple of years
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The first round of the newly unsponsored League Cup (EFL Cup) is upon us and it's fair to say, it's not exactly the night that football fans look to with a high degree of anticipation.

However, what tonight heralds is the first step on a road that could provide a welcome boost to a team's season as Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday know all too well.

The problem is even for clubs at the level of United and Wednesday, the League Cup is looked down upon a little, as other priorities kick in.

That's most apparent when taking on teams lower down the pecking order. To their credit though, both Steel City clubs have taken the competition seriously over the past couple of years and reaped the benefits.

It's just this stage that offers a stumbling block.

The next round offers the opportunity to pit your wits against the Premier League sides not involved in Europe this year - a list that contains Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton - and that's when people sit up and take notice. Until then, the current opponents provide a hurdle, mainly borne out of an uninspiring ficture, with the greatest of respect.

United take on Crewe with Wilder, though of course he's always going to say the right things, stating that they will go for it.

"We will go full tilt in every game to win it, regardless of whether it’s Bolton, the League Cup, the EFL Trophy or a team that’s not so fancied," he said. "We’ll try and pick the right team for the right day and keep everybody hungry and fresh. Especially at the top of the pitch."

Getting out of League One is what matters most but a couple of years ago, when Nigel Clough was in charge, a run to the semi-finals of this trophy brought a feel-good factor to a club that had been sitting just above average for much of the season. The atmosphere against Tottenham, a match in which United came so close to causing a shock, was incredible at Bramall Lane that night and that's what we want on a regular basis.

It breeds confidence amongst the players and in the stands and that can help in the long term in the league.

The same goes for Wednesday who have a potential banana-skin tonight against Cambridge United. They will field a much-changed line-up than the one which registered an opening day win over Aston Villa on Saturday and that's where the problem may lie. On the face of it, they should still have too much for Cambridge but we all thought that in the FA Cup when Shrewsbury caused a shock against the Owls last season.

“Of course, we will try to win on Tuesday. We will take the game seriously. I will try to win the game with the players from the squad who didn’t play against Villa. Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal said. “It will change but we don’t have a squad at the moment to play in two or three competitions. “It [EFL Cup] is not our main competition.”

Again, promotion is the main objective this year, but Wednesday were plunged back into football's general consciousness last season when they took on and beat Arsenal and Newcastle before falling to Stoke City in the League Cup.

Hillsborough was rocking during that superb success over the Gunners and there's an argument to suggest the run provided a lift that eventually took Wednesday to Wembley. It brought back memories of big nights on S6 and a hunger for more.

Hopefully the same thing can happen again this season for both United and Wednesday. Fans love the cups, it's a competition that deserves respect, but this first match is the one that potentially causes the most difficulty. Let's take it seriously and look forward to more big occasions on Bramall Lane and Hillsborough