If there was a ‘good’ way to go out of the Carabao Cup, this was probably it… - Joe Crann’s Sheffield Wednesday column
Look, nobody wants to lose, and Garry Monk has made it very clear that Sheffield Wednesday will always go out to win games, but I don’t think anybody should be losing sleep after last night’s Carabao Cup exit.
It was a tough night at Craven Cottage on Wednesday evening as the Owls were beaten 2-0 by Fulham, who will now go on to face Brentford in the next round of the competition.
Come the end of the game it was probably a fair result to be honest, but there were plenty of positives to take out of it for Monk and his side as they remained in the game throughout, created chances and had some excellent spells despite their age and general lack of experience.
There’s no two ways about it, Wednesday’s main focus this season is – and should be – on the Championship. A cup run can be a nice distraction, but ultimately it’s about staying in the second tier for the Owls as they try and chip away at that 12-point deduction that they’ve been lumbered with.
So hear me out…
As I said, losing isn’t fun, and it would have been lovely to see the young lads get a win in the capital, but it does feel like the Carabao Cup has served its purpose for SWFC this season.
The Walsall and Rochdale games effectively served as extra preseason games for Monk after what was a very short preparation for the 2019/20 campaign, and the fact that 22 different players were used in those two matches is evidence of that.
Obviously with the Saddlers and the Dale being lower league clubs, the Owls were expected to win and (even though several Championship teams did get dumped out) there probably would have been a grievance from some Wednesdayites if they’d not done so.
But to lose – with plenty of dignity – to Fulham, a Premier League team who fielded a strong side, while using seven academy players and a number of teenagers, has been widely received with a bit of a shrug and a ‘well that’s that then’.
As it should be, in my opinion.
Monk used the Carabao Cup perfectly, for me. The first game was to prepare for Cardiff City, the second was to get some minutes into a number of young and/or fringe players, and the third was keeping faith in those that got the job done against Rochdale and to give them a chance of knocking on the door for the Championship.
Fulham are a much more expensively assembled side (one of their substitutes, Jean Michaël Seri, cost £27m) who the Owls more than matched for large parts of the game despite using what is effectively a second string side, so there’s no shame in that defeat.
Also, from a preparation side of things, the Wednesday boss will relish those extra days in the week where he’s able to work towards making this SWFC squad as good as they can be – and that’s something that everybody can surely get behind.