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  Monday, 25 February, 2002, 11:24 GMT
Worthington Cup's Euro jinx
Graeme Souness and Andy Cole celebrate Blackburn's Worthington Cup success
Both Souness and Cole have enjoyed European success
BBC Sport Online's Paul Fletcher explains why Blackburn's Worthington Cup win cannot be expected to deliver European glory next season.

Sunday was a victorious day for Graeme Souness and his Blackburn team.

The Lancashire club's victory over Spurs in the Worthington Cup Final means there is silverware in the Ewood Park trophy cabinet at Ewood Park for the first time since 1995.

Then Kenny Dalglish guided Blackburn to the Premier League title.

But just as importantly Blackburn's latest triumph also guarantees European competition in the shape of the Uefa Cup next season.

Souness' team now have the chance to test themselves against some of Europe's finest.

Unfortunately history has an uncomfortable lesson for Souness - Blackburn will fail miserably on their European adventure.

Leicester lost to Atletico Madrid in 1998
Leicester lost to Atletico Madrid in 1998
Never has a team qualifying for Europe exclusively as a result of winning the League Cup - in any of its various guises - won a European trophy the following season.

This year's losers came closest - reaching the Uefa Cup Final in 1974 only to lose 4-2 on aggregate to Feyenoord.

Teams have won trophies in Europe the season after winning the League Cup - but they have been teams that qualified for Europe via other routes.

Nottingham Forest, for example, triumphed in Europe winning the European Cup the season after their 1978 League Cup victory.

But Brian Clough's team had qualified for the European Cup as a consequence of winning the league.

And the European failure of Worthington Cup winners adds fuel to the fire of those who argue the tournament is no longer worthy of an automatic place in the Uefa Cup.

The English teams capable of excelling in Europe - the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool - field reserve teams in the competition.

Blackburn themselves took advantage of that policy on their way to the Millennium stadium - thumping an understrength Arsenal 4-0 in the quarter-finals.

With the rigours of the Premier League, the FA Cup and European competition it is hardly surprising that the Worthington Cup is viewed as a distraction.

Olympique Lyonnais' keeper Gregory Coupet beats Blackburn Rovers' Garry Flitcroft and Chris Sutton to a high ball in the 1998 Uefa Cup tie
Lyon knocked Blackburn out of the 1998 Uefa Cup

Even Premier League strugglers Bolton fielded an under-strength team for their quarter-final tie with Spurs this season.

Which perhaps explains why the winners do not succeed in Europe - but also why the competition remains special for many club's outside English football's elite.

The Worthington Cup throws up winners outside of the English elite.

The FA Cup is invariably won by one of the Premier League's top clubs - whereas the likes of Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday, Luton, Oxford and Norwich have lifted the League Cup over the last 17 years.

Which means that Blackburn, also facing relegation from the Premier League, will not be complaining that they are in Europe next season.


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