A depleted Manchester City team failed to sparkle as Newcastle United took full advantage to match into the next round of the League Cup. The Blues were uncharacteristically knocked out so early in the competition as manager Pep Guardiola decided to rest some of his key players for the encounter.
It was always going to be a difficult game for City, so in a way it’s not much of a surprise that the Blues couldn't survive the onslaught at St James' Park and have crashed out. It has always been a difficult ground to visit. And with Eddie Howe’s team in high spirits, no side in Europe can go there feeling confident of a victory.
Although Guardiola claimed after the game that he usually plays a much-changed team at the beginning of the competition. That usually depends on the kind of opposition faced. Also, in cases where the team comes unstuck, bigger names are usually brought in to salvage the situation.
There was no chance of doing that this time around as the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, John Stones and Rodri were all unavailable due to injuries and suspension. With the tight schedule ahead, it will be unwise to overwork the likes of Erling Haaland, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker.
Any more injuries to key members of the squad could bring the house crashing down. Even a win at Newcastle in such a scenario will mean winning the battle but ultimately losing the war. Guardiola knows much better than to allow that happen.
Of the four remaining major trophies the team will battle for in this campaign, the Carabao Cup is the least in terms of significance. Hence, there are much bigger battles to fight in the months ahead. From the Club World Cup to the FA Cup, the Premier League title and the Champions League, City have much bigger fish to fry over the course of the season.
Viewed from that perspective, crashing out of the League Cup this early is not the end of the world. In fact, it could be a blessing in disguise, as it could help the team save energy for more important games.
Of course, one wants to win it all as a City faithful. But no team ever does. Even Arsenal’s Invincibles never did.
Hopefully, the manager took enough lessons from the game about his team to know which areas to tweak heading into the Wolves and Arsenal games.