Long ago, in the depths of time, England would have come to a standstill for the FA Cup final on a May afternoon. It was by far the biggest game of the season, and TV offered a selfless broadcast from morning to night.
Helicopters would follow the teams to Wembley almost like a state event, a day when the glorious trophy every club yearned for was won and lost. A crowd of 100,000 people wearing badges – that was so long ago that replica shirts had yet to be invented – would gather at the iconic national stadium, where the lush, well-maintained green surface contrasted sharply with the mud scum where most league games were played. It was played until 2000.
Those old finals entered football folklore, and by the time television, radio, and newspapers were gone, folks knew each player’s life story and what they had for breakfast that morning. How was the world’s oldest and most famous local cup competition allowed to fall into such a sad state when many Premier League managers see it as a side show played in half-filled stadiums?
In the 1970-71 season, the crowd to watch the FA Cup totaled over 3 million for the competition, which was packed with houses all over the country. These turnouts have fallen by nearly 50% in the last half century; Seeing the exhausted line-ups that so many top clubs put on the pitch, the «well, if you don’t really care about this rivalry, why should we?»
The «magic» of the trophy seems to have become a myth. It’s still there for teams in the lower leagues where potential fees for prize money and live TV streaming can be a lifesaver, but for Premier League teams such money pales in comparison to the enormous wealth that can be gained simply by staying. in the Premier League.
Managers show a sham commitment to competition at press conferences for public consumption, but team choices tell a different story.
You’d think that Newcastle United, a club without a local trophy since 1955, would be dying to see their highly developed team win the FA Cup, and with the money and players they have now, this season would be a realistic ambition. But Eddie Howe made eight changes against in-form League One team Sheffield on Wednesday and saw his team lose 2-1 at Hillsborough. It was a miscalculation as Josh Windass made headlines with two goals.
A shy Howe – and perhaps his first misstep as Newcastle boss – later admitted: «Obviously with the result and the benefit of looking back, we could have done things differently. But we have a small squad and we have to protect this team. For the games ahead. Game We felt we were strong enough to win.»
Dale Johnson explains why the Wolves’ third goal in the FA Cup in their 2-2 draw against Liverpool was denied.
Aston Villa were another team that learned that their roster players weren’t really good enough. They also conceded two dramatic late goals to give their fourth-place opponents, Second Division side Stevenage FC, a memorable win at Villa Park, with eight changes. You have to ask yourself why Midtable Villa isn’t out for cup glory and a much-needed piece of silverware. Instead, they go to Round 3 for the seventh time in a row and blame only themselves. A day to forget for manager Unai Emery.
You can excuse Nottingham Forest for thinking they need to keep their best players fresh for a relegation challenge. They replaced all 11 players and lost 4-1 to the struggling Championship team Blackpool.
Another team worried about their senior status, Leeds changed the team heavily, playing without the usual intensity and finding themselves 2-0 behind Cardiff City, who had hardly ever bought a goal in the Championship. Thanks to Jesse Marsch’s team who struggled to play again, but if they had played on their regular team and won, they would have saved themselves from adding another game to a punishing schedule.
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Chelsea’s best player in the league to beat Manchester City on Thursday becomes midfielder Denis Zakaria, but Graham Potter strangely decided to rest him from Sunday’s return match in the FA Cup in Manchester. There was an outlet for the young Bashir Humphreys in defense and a place for word lewis hall you were left-back but you looked at Chelsea 11 before the game and didn’t like your chances. This was proven when City beat them 4-0.
To tell the truth, Chelsea have been hit hard by injuries, but was this really the best team they could play against such strong opposition, especially when Potter needed an outcome to stabilize the ship?
Tottenham, who last won the FA Cup in 1991 when Gary Lineker played, made the bold decision to start. Harry Kane against third-tier Portsmouth. Likewise, for putting out an excellent winner to frustrate a daring effort by Pompey that took nearly 9,000 fans to North London despite a rail strike affecting travel.
One manager who showed due respect and deference to the history and tradition of the FA Cup was Erik ten Hag and was in his first season in English football, no less. He wants to deliver a trophy to Manchester United and he took the field against a very strong team. Evertonwon 3-1. With this determined approach, United can achieve great success.
In general, there is an undeniable feeling that most senior managers have developed a «take it or leave it» approach to competition that has always captured the imagination at this time of year, even now. You just had to witness what it meant for Sheffield Wednesday, Stevenage and non-league Wrexham — a 4-3 win over second-tier Coventry City — and Chesterfield, who came in seconds in their thrilling 3-point win over West Bromwich Albion. 3 draws These fantastic stories underscore why the Cup, with over 150 years of history, still arouses modern interest and resonance. It just needs a little more love and attention.
Still, the cynical priority for many clubs is to hit the 40-point safety number on England’s best flight or be in the top four. It’s hard to argue against that purely financially, but where’s the romance in that? Imagine a day 40 years from now when a former actor puts his grandson on his knee. What will excite the lad the most: the story of how his grandfather got into the top four, or a romantic story about the day he won the FA Cup and kissed him at Wembley?
We need to discuss how this cherished Cup can be brought back to its rightful place in the hearts of the nation. Is it worth debating whether to place Wembley winners in the Champions League instead of the team that finished fourth in the Premier League? Imagine how big of a game the FA Cup Final would have turned out if the stakes were that high.
Unfortunately for sentimental dreamers like me it will never happen as the big clubs at the top of the English game will see it. But are their collective self-interests the best interests of the game?
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