When the FA Cup was drawn a while back, the Premier League teams appeared to have the best chance of progressing into the 5th Round proper.
The teams that were drawn against these so called “top six” had nothing to lose, and when the kick offs took place, you could feel that the lower league teams would up their game in an attempt to prove to the football world that they were indeed serious in getting to the next round – if not the FA Cup Final itself.
Let’s start with the results which held the most shocking factor…….
Bad day at the office….!?
Chelsea at home – a dead cert everyone was thinking – and when the Blues took a 2-0 lead in the first half hour, no-one would be detracted from watching, or expecting a home win again.
Bradford had other ideas….
Their massive heart and the will to play for each other were clear for all to see, and even at 2-0 down at the home of one of the best teams in Europe, their heads did not drop, and they were rewarded with a goal just before half time to half the arrears.
The second half was a complete surprise to everyone – but how refreshing…or worrying for the future of the FA Cup, as Bradford played their best football of the season to triumph 4-2.
A word has to go to Jose Mourinho who, after the game, went into Bradford City’s dressing room and congratulated each player, staff and management by shaking their hand and wishing them all the best. A man who has integrity and appreciates the passion and belief Bradford showed…and slated his own players as a “disgrace”.
Then we have Middlesbrough away to Manchester City…another home banker seemed on the cards.
The quality of the Man City side, not to mention the expense to assemble it, oozed with anticipation for the home crowd to enjoy a master class to show the difference between the two sides league status…..again how wrong could they be!
Middlesbrough were good value for the away win and triumphed 2-0, with the home supporters left in complete silence, stunned and dismayed at what they had witnessed. The Middlesbrough fans on the other hand started a party which, I’m sure, went on way into the night and may last a few days and weeks to come.
Will Middlesbrough be one of the surprise packages, like Bradford?
Match these results with the heroic effort by Cambridge United to hold the mighty Manchester United to a goalless draw, which kicked it all off, and you are left feeling the unthinkable feeling that the FA Cup was not a priority for the Premier League teams…
……NO I hear you cry! But how may upsets were there……they keep coming……
These are not as major as the couple of games mentioned above, but still falls in the “surprising” category:
- Tottenham 1-0 up with 7 minutes to go, and lose 2-1……
- Crystal Palace winning 3-2 at Southampton……
- Liverpool drawing 0-0 at home to Bolton, with Emile Heskey returning to his former stomping ground at the age of 37
There are numerous other results that have not been mentioned, but are by no means less important than those highlighted above……
So, what has led to the demise of so many teams last weekend?
I believe, and it is only my opinion, that the teams discarded were not “up for it”, and let themselves, the manager and the fans down in a major way at the weekend.
Is it the fact that the Champions League is such a major draw in status, not to mention the financial rewards, that the teams vying for a top four spot are focused on this top prize?
Is the club board at fault so to not include the FA Cup as one of their priorities?
Foreign influx to blame…?
However I believe a major problem is that with the influx of foreign talent, and it is just that, the history of such a competition as the FA Cup does not hit home as it should.
You look at the teams that triumphed at the weekend and you could clearly see the will to win, the desire to make the fifth round, the will to do ANYTHING to help out team mates.
Did you see players busting a gut to track back for Chelsea…Did you see a notable difference when the Premier teams went behind….I don’t think so, and it smacks of the way football is going and will go if nothing is addressed at club level to instil the importance of domestic cup competitions.
For example, Arsenal have not won as many major honours as they should have done over the past 7 or 8 years.
Teams that were happy to with the then UEFA Cup now scoff at the Europa cup…how hypocritical and demeaning to the teams who are desperate for European football…?
Maybe I am wrong….perhaps you reading this can persuade me different.
What is your view…agree…disagree…?
I would like you to leave a comment below with your views, and I would really like to understand why the passion and heart felt commitment of the bigger teams is not there when the fans demand it
….After all, we pay their wages…we go to see them…we spend hard earned money demanding the best at all times…and when players earn upwards of £50k plus are we right to demand excellence…YOU BET WE ARE!!
I really look forwards to hearing from you…..and thanks for reading