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Charlie Christie: Why do Inverness Caledonian Thistle struggle in League Cup group stages?

By Charlie Christie

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Defeat to Airdrie confirmed ICT’s exit from this season’s League Cup and it continues our quite dreadful run in the competition in recent times.

David Carson was disappointed at the end.
David Carson was disappointed at the end.

Incredibly, we have only progressed from our group once in the previous seven years.

It’s a surprising statistic given that the group stages do not include Premiership clubs playing in Europe and we showed in last season’s Scottish cup matches against Livingston and Kilmarnock we are capable of competing against those in the bottom half of the Premiership.

It’s therefore a bit of a mystery as to why our League Cup struggles have persisted although it has tended to be poor results against the so-called lesser teams in our group that has hurt our hopes more than anything. Part-timers Dumbarton, Peterhead and Stirling Albion are among those we would expect to beat but who have taken valuable points off us in recent years and have cost us the chance of progress.

I have said previously that the timing of the competition does not help but it’s the same for all the clubs.

At ICT in recent years our pre-season has mainly consisted of matches against Highland league sides, and I do wonder if we could possibly do with a slightly sterner test prior to the League Cup commencing although, with our geography and potential travel involved that is easier said than done.

The League Cup is the lesser of our two national cup competitions, but group qualification still offers the opportunity to play against the country’s top sides whilst potentially providing much needed income along the way and you only need to look at last year’s Scottish Cup to see the interest a cup run can generate for football fans in the north.

n Inverness Caledonian Thistle kick off their league campaign on August 5 at home to Queens Park. I’m delighted that we will have a very special guest in attendance that day to receive long overdue recognition for all the incredible work he has undertaken over six decades in youth coaching in the Highlands.

Jackie Sutherland was one of my first ever coaches when I played for the Inverness youth select teams in the late 1970s and early 1980s and I have admired the man ever since.

Always there to help when required Jackie was an individual who knew the game inside out and got his point over without ever having to raise his voice.

He worked tirelessly in the Caledonian FC youth structure for many years before joining the ICT Academy after the formation of the newly merged club in 1994.

Jackie is an undoubted true legend of north football and more than deserves this special award.

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