The claims of weakened teams being a problem for Newcastle United is a bit of misdirection at this stage.

A lot of hot air has been expended in recent days with fans worrying about who Steve McClaren will or won’t play tonight.

Yes, playing weakened teams has been an unfunny joke under Mike Ashley, but not when it comes to the second round of the League Cup.

Here are the results in the eight years under the club owner:

2007/08 Newcastle 2 Barnsley 0

2008/09 Coventry 2 Newcastle 3

2009/10 Newcastle 4 Huddersfield 3

2010/11 Accrington Stanley 2 Newcastle 3

2011/12 Scunthorpe 1 Newcastle 2

2012/13 A bye due to Europa League participation

2013/14 Morecambe 0 Newcastle 2

2014/15 Gillingham 0 Newcastle 1

As you can see, Newcastle have never been knocked out (Under Ashley) in the League Cup second round, despite playing some seriously weakened teams, which at times strongly suggested that certain people might not be too upset if they had brought about defeat…

With the seeding for the second round meaning that you are almost guaranteed to face a League One or League Two club, there really are no excuses if you get knocked out.

United might have had the odd scare and had to face extra time on more than one occasion, but all eight years under Mike Ashley, Newcastle have gone on to play in the League Cup third round.

Steve McClaren has said all the right things about Northampton being a threat and a good team etc etc but we all know that whatever eleven players the United boss sends out, they will be better paid and a stronger team than those they are facing.

The biggest problems we’ve seen with weakened teams has been in the FA Cup, where the statistics are horrendous, with United rarely playing more than one match in the competition each season, under Mike Ashley.

To a lesser extent, the later rounds of the League Cup have definitely impacted on Newcastle due to leaving players out.

The last three seasons have seen defeats against Manchester United, Manchester City and then what should have been another exit against Man City last season, in the third and fourth rounds of the League Cup.

Each time Alan Pardew leaving out key players that could arguably have produced a win if they’d played.

Last season the exception being that game against Manchester City where Alan Pardew clearly selected a team to get beat at the Etihad, only to see them magnificently defy him with the likes of Abeid, Elliot, Aarons, Armstrong and Obertan all having great games.

You can never say never, but I can’t see any team selection managing to ruin Mike Ashley’s perfect cup record (in the second round of the League Cup…).

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