It's FA Cup weekend in England, meaning the EPL takes a 10 day break to sort out the sides that will per-take the fourth round of the Cup.
Manchester United have not won the competition for nearly a decade but remarkably remain the record winners of the Cup. Admittedly, we've come close since, most notably in 2005 and 2007 but its also fair to state that since then, the glamour and importance of the Cup has been gradually molting away.
Increase in TV revenue in both the Champions League and the EPL has meant that the FA Cup is third on big club's wish list at the start of the season. I mean what does one lose from being knocked out of the Cup these days anyway? Certainly not much for United who have nothing left to prove in the competition as the record winners.
Personally, besides the hurt of United losing a game, I cannot be bothered much if we got knocked out of it on Saturday. Whereas most of the team we have today doesn't have an FA Cup medal, I'd rather that if if we are to win it this year, it does not come at the cost of the other two bigger prizes. Whereas there is not much pride in reaching the final of the Champions League and losing it, the financial implications are very tangible as we found out after what happened last season. Given that we have a Glazer debt to get off our backs, I'd take a Champions League semi-final appearance every season ahead of an FA Cup final appearance.
The other sad thing about this competition is that United hardly get an 'easy' fixture even during the early rounds. Third Round Weekend is usually on the back of 4 EPL games in 10 days----meaning that you really hope for a draw in which you can put out your fringe players and still get a result. Although we've had Leeds and Southampton recently, how do u explain draws such as City in the third round last season and Liverpool in the season before that. If its not a top side we're up against, the draw has ensured that more often than not, its an EPL team. As such, the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa (nearly every season), or a West Ham will draw our number.
Besides, I doubt the FA Cup is all about throwing up more 'EPL fixtures' that we already have!
Anyhow, we got West Ham away this season. Whereas its not the most difficult opponent we could have drawn, away from home makes it one of the trickiest ties in the round. I mean West Ham and Big Sam can give our first choice side a run for their quid when they show up as they did in the league fixture at OT a while a few weeks ago. It's not so much as the tie as it is the venue in issue here. I just hate Upton Park for all its weirdness. The pitch reminds me of Arsenal's
Tennis Court Highbury. I mean, the last time we were there for any Cup fixture, we suffered a 4-0 defeat in a League Cup fixture.
All that notwithstanding, I do hope that we get the win tomorrow--if only for the fact that I hate to see United lose a game. I still hope that the manager will give a lot of the senior players a break as we need to come as close as possible to the freshness of Real Madrid in the Champions League in February.
The good news though is that I get to watch a game in which a draw and defeat can be good results---depending on how you look at it anyway.
Till then Cheers!
Labels: THE FA CUP