by Chris Tobin
The greatest Cup competition on the planet – that was the F.A.Cup, a trophy which footballers and managers alike would crave and desire like no other, most who would assume they would possibly never win the League title or Premier League as it is now called, placing it at the very top echelon of silverware to acquire within a career.
Unfortunately now that very same trophy does not have the same appeal to some at the very top of the game and some managers treat it with absolute contempt – some decide to treat it as a training session for the Under 15s or their reserve squad, whilst other managers use it to rest those poor overworked millionaires, replacing them with less valued personnel.
Over the last few years, well mainly since the inception of the Premier League, many a top manager has come unstuck whilst trying to devalue the F.A. Cup by either treating it with a despicable contempt, or worse still attempting to place his own and his club’s arrogance upon this competition and a competitor. And with this attitude continuing; forever we will have “The Magic of The Cup”.
This weekend has brought it home once again why we as supporters love this completion, why the lower league sides milk their exposure for all its worth and thank God they do, as this adds to the magic and beauty of this competition. Some supporters have forgotten how really difficult this trophy is to actually win – only Portsmouth from outside of the top six sides in the country being able to secure the trophy in the last 20 years. In that respect it is a difficult as qualifying for the Champions League. Why then do these clubs continue to think they can tinker around with teams and not give it the priority it deserves, or more so that the fans deserve.
As a Liverpool supporter I have had a strange few days in terms of what the cup has meant this weekend, firstly huge disappointment at going out of the competition at the hands of lowly Oldham, whilst also seeing the supporters of Oldham revelling in victory I was at pains to find a sneaky smile. Because after all that is what the Cup is all about, the underdog slaying the giant.
A day earlier myself and friends had giggled and pointed at those less fortunate, that had succumbed at the hands of lowly opposition in the shape of Norwich and Queens Park Rangers, and then hours before our own demise Spurs would also fall at the hands of Leeds United – The magic it seemed was well and truly being sprinkled over “The World’s Greatest Cup Competition”.
I suppose the point I am trying to generally make is that I don’t believe these managers within the Premiership give the trophy the same respect as we supporters do; surely if they did they would field the strongest possible sides when pitching their club against sides that clearly will scrap to the very death. It’s like going to war with half your army, someone is going to get a bloodied nose. Why can’t they just give it the best shot every time?
Usually the blame is levelled at those pesky foreign managers who clearly not having been force fed on spoonfuls of F.A. Cup final mornings sat in their jim jams waiting for F.A.Cup question of sport or the teams leaving their hotels, are indeed lacking the true meaning of this competition, and in the past this has been proved so very true. This time however all those managers on the end of the giants’ sling were all British so that excuse doesn’t fly. They should have known better.
For me I hope the magic continues. It is life’s way of reassuring us all that indeed the footballing God’s still exist, whilst also affirming that if you have a perfectly good goalkeeper don’t pick your second string, Brendan.
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