If only Carabao Cup final had an underdog to cheer on rather than having to watch Man City or Spurs parade a trophy

JUST a week ago it was Jose versus Quadruple-chasing Pep, in front of a select band of appreciative fans, in an eagerly-awaited showpiece.

Yet by Monday night, Gary Neville — leader of the football resistance movement — was calling for the League Cup final between Tottenham and Manchester City tomorrow to be scrapped.

“Cancel it, who cares about it? They don’t care about English football,” he argued.

And as a 48-hour civil war raged over the European Super League, plenty of us agreed.

Now, with the breakaway foiled and the Big Six humiliated, should we care about this Serpent Sunday? This Cara-boa Cup final?

If only there was an underdog from outside of the Dirty Dozen to cheer for.

Instead, who really has the stomach to watch City or Spurs parading the trophy around Wembley after a victory which will leave an acrid taste in the mouth either way?

Even supporters of the two finalists will agree that this occasion is tainted by the willingness of their double-crossing clubs to dump on English football from a great height.

This final was delayed by two months from its original February date in the hope that fans would be allowed in.

And there will be 2,000 supporters of each club in an overall attendance of 8,000.

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City and Spurs chiefs are now wishing it had never been moved — there will be protests outside Wembley and surely dissent from the privileged few inside the national stadium.

Without the almighty explosion of last Sunday there would have been plenty of intriguing plotlines to go at.

Will England captain Harry Kane be fit for a tilt at the first major trophy of his career?

Or will he be as half-paced as he was after ‘recovering’ from another injury to play in the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool?

Can City’s Phil Foden illuminate this showpiece, as he did in a breakthrough performance last season when he was man of the match against Aston Villa?

That performance gave us concrete proof that he could showcase his silk and sorcery on the biggest occasions.

Or might Guardiola’s City chuck away a second trophy chance in successive weekends after their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea?

And what an extraordinary, largely-overlooked story is Ryan Mason — a 29-year-old caretaker whose promising playing career was cut short by a life-threatening fractured skull.

Can he lift Tottenham’s first trophy in 13 years in only his second match as a manager?

If he does, they might start wondering if Mason will end up as Tottenham’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — an unlikely interim, freshening the air after a Mourinho stink-bomb, riding a wave of optimism and getting the gig for good?

It is unlikely that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will be so naive, even if Mason lifts a trophy and finishes in the top four.

But plenty of stranger things have happened, this week alone.

Poor old Mourinho must be less angry about his sacking, while battle raged on Monday morning, and more annoyed about how overshadowed it all was.

If that was the end of his extraordinary career in Premier League management, then it surely deserved a decent argument.

Didn’t he deserve a crack at the cup? Or would winning a piece of silverware make the Portuguese unsackable in the short term?

Yet all of the talking points from a week ago — can Spurs finally win a trophy? Can City win all four? — sound trivial now.

This should be a cracking game of football. But, as Neville asked, does anybody really care?

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