Match Of The Midweek: Birmingham City 1-3 SC Braga

There was nothing concrete upon which to link Birmingham City winning the League Cup with their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season, of course, but it didn’t stop some from asserting exactly this and it hasn’t stopped panicky-looking managers whose main ambition for this season is to finish seventeenth in the Premier League from effectively binning England’s second cup competition. Norwich City, Swansea City and Queens Park Rangers were all knocked out of it in the First Round, and it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the first thing to cross the mind of al three managers upon the final whistle of their matches against against Milton Keynes Dons, Shrewsbury Town and Rochdale was, “mission accomplished”. If a club is to progress, however, European football should surely be the next step up the ladder and, considering that the Champions League is all bar out of the question for anybody apart from what we may come to know as The Pre-Ordained Six, The Europa League may be about as good as things are going to get for the foreseeable future for the rest of the Premier League. UEFA haven’t helped the “prestige” of this competition in recent years, though. In the way that those that run the game will always find a way to take the shine off the trophies that are meant to be...

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