English clubs in Europe could benefit by not playing in the Carabao Cup, says Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese manager made nine changes but still fielded a strong side as the holders beat Championship side Burton 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Mourinho told BBC Radio 5 live: “If you ask me ‘could English football survive or be even be better without this competition?’ Maybe.
“Maybe we would be fresher for European competition.”
United beat Southampton to win the League Cup last season for the fifth time – Mourinho’s fourth success – and the former Chelsea boss wants to win it again this season.
‘We have to respect the opponents’
Mourinho’s much-changed side still contained 11 internationals, as club captain and England midfielder Michael Carrick made his first appearance of the season.
Rivals Manchester City gave first starts of the season to Yaya Toure and Ilkay Gundogan, while Eden Hazard used the competition to make his first start of the campaign for Chelsea.
“If the competition is an official competition then it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager,” Mourinho added.
“I want the players to think the same way. We have this competition, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents and a lot of us are trying to do our best.
“If we can win it, we win it. If we don’t win it it’s because the opponents are better than us.”
‘Our fans have wonderful memories’
For Wednesday night’s League Cup games, Arsenal made 11 changes against League One Doncaster, Chelsea made nine to face Championship side Nottingham Forest, and Manchester City and Everton both made eight.
Championship side Burton made nine changes, but manager Nigel Clough said that the competition is extremely relevant to the club – financially, and for the travelling fans who saw Lloyd Dyer’s late consolation goal.
“Our fans will go home with wonderful memories tonight,” he said.
“We have now played at Old Trafford twice in 11 years and nobody would have expected that. Nobody comes here expecting us to pull off a result but we gave a good account of ourselves and we scored a goal.
“It will help us in our bid to stay in the Championship. The chairman is happy, there was a good crowd in. It’s a big part of our budget.
“The main thing was to reward the lads who got us here, they were the freshest players available to me. The League Cup is not a nuisance, we have an even squad and every one of those lads who played tonight thinks they should be in the first team.”
BBC Sport pundit Danny Mills, who won the League Cup in 2004 with Middlesbrough, does not think that fans are short-changed by teams making sweeping changes to their line-ups.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: “If you buy a ticket for the third round you know all teams are going to make changes. You don’t have to buy one, it’s not part of your season ticket.
“The pathways for younger players at top clubs are blocked, and this competition is an opportunity. It’s competitive, it still means something, it qualifies you for Europe. These cup competitions for the big clubs are opportunities to rotate their squads.”