Archive for the ‘The FA Cup’ Category

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It is now Wednesday, 26th May. Manchester City are two points behind Liverpool with two games in hand and an inferior goal difference.

Manchester United are three points behind Liverpool with two games in hand and a vastly inferior goal difference.

The upshot of all this is the following: If Thursday’s derby game is a draw, both Manchester clubs gain a point on Liverpool and both will overtake Liverpool should they win their other game in hand.

If Manchester United win the game, they will be level with Liverpool and City will still be only two points behind but still with a game in hand. So either of these two scenarios would suit United and neither would be disastrous for City.

However, should City win then the outlook becomes a little bleaker for United. They would still be three points behind Liverpool, only have one game in hand and their inferior goal difference would be even more inferior. They would then have to rely on Liverpool slipping up at some stage which, in all fairness, is a probability rather than a possibility. So all would not be quite lost, but the outcome of the derby is certainly more poignant to United than it is to City.

Having won at Old Trafford earlier in the season at a time when City were playing their best football it wouldn’t be particularly surprising if they were favourites for this one. The fortunes of the two clubs have, however, differed slightly since then.

United have gone on to win the EFL Cup and are in the quarter finals of the Europa League. In fact they are now favourites to win it.

City, on the other hand, have been knocked out of the Champion’s League due to attacking a two-goal lead rather than defending it, and been knocked out of the FA Cup at the semi-final stage. They will end the season trophyless, not something which was expected when Pep Guardiola took the reins.

It is difficult to see these events not having some psychological effect on the players. After all, they were the team who were going to win things with their new manager. This will not now be the case, not short term anyway.

All of this, in our very humble opinion, makes Manchester United slight favourites for the win but the draw still remains the safest bet.

It will certainly be an interesting derby game onThursday.

The FA Cup final will feature Chelsea and Arsenal. Two London teams playing the final in London. Quite fair really. The semi-finals featured three London teams and one from Manchester and were also played in London. Totally unfair really.

How three clubs can play a “home” game whilst another is totally disadvantaged by being the sole “away” team is beyond the comprehension of this fair-minded publication. What happened to playing the semi-finals on a neutral ground in a neutral city?

The result was quite predictable with this heavy bias towards London and now the final will be contested between two teams who, through no real fault of their own, generate no real interest outside of London particularly in a competition which has now become one which nobody really cares much about either.

When will the FA come to their senses, (a perpetually rhetorical question!), and return the old values to the tournament? Maybe then some of the old “magic” may reappear. Until that happens it will remain a bit of a damp squib.

FA Cup final weekend has finally become just another weekend.

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Get ready for the usual sting. If Manchester United can find a way to beat Chelsea, (which seems unlikely with two donkeys like Smalling and Young in the team), what is the betting that their next FA Cup game will be against Manchester City?

There is a force at work somewhere which endeavours to ensure that these two teams never meet in the final.

It may be that they want a London team in the final and one way of making sure of that is to have Tottenham play Arsenal in the semi-final. Guess what that would mean? Correct, City would play United in the other semi. (more…)

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The top six were all in FA Cup action this weekend. They all fielded “weakened” teams which, however it is viewed, means that the FA Cup is now regarded as being on a par with the EFL Cup. They are both competitions clubs would like to win but, if they don’t, then it’s no big deal and some of the fringe players and youngsters have had a run-out.

One manager was quoted as saying that, “we don’t have a weakened team we have an alternative team“. This should be true, especially when you consider the size and quality of the squads belonging to the top six, but it was said tongue-in-cheek. (more…)

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At the beginning of the season there was belief. Belief that Manchester United were on the way back to being good at football.

They started off like an express train and were unstoppable until they were stopped. Unfortunately they were stopped by another unstoppable team at the time when Manchester City beat them at Old Trafford. City were to go on being unstoppable until they were stopped by Tottenham Hotspur who, whilst not being unstoppable, haven’t really been stopped by anybody yet, (unless you count a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford as stopping them). (more…)

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So yet again Louis van Gaal has one game to save his job. I’m starting to doubt this ultimatum business as this is now about the fourth or fifth time he has had one game to save his job and he certainly hasn’t won many of them.

Against Shrewsbury they played reasonably well although Memphis Depay showed, yet again, how moving to Manchester United can be a nightmare just as easily as it can be a dream.

He had two shots which were both closer to going out of the ground than they were to threatening the Shrewsbury goal.

When United took the lead it was very fortuitous. Smalling had gone up for a corner, without anybody really knowing why. His last header from a corner had gone miles over the bar! As is usually the case with Smalling, once the corner had been wasted he forgot to run back to his defensive position. In fact, had Shrewsbury been a little more awake they could have mounted a decent counter-attack. They didn’t, in fact not only didn’t they mount the counter-attack, they forgot all about Smalling, who had turned invisible. Anyway, the ball arrived at Smalling’s feet and, with a trademark swing, he whacked it straight into the ground in an attempt to put it over the bar and the bounce took it over the keeper and into the net, much to the amazement of Smalling and everybody else in the ground. (more…)

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Manchester United beating Derby County in the FA Cup at the iPro stadium was greeted by fans as a return of decent football.

The fact that Derby County occupy fifth place in the Championship and have lost their previous five games is, to a large extent, irrelevant. As is often said, you can only beat what is put in front of you.

The Cup competitions have a levelling effect. Derby, for one game, could give everything. They didn’t have to worry about dropping points, or whether or not a draw would be a good result, they could just concentrate on trying to win a one-off game of football, (unless there was a replay, of course). The fact that the game was against Manchester United just put the icing on the cake. So really, they were in a no-lose situation. A win would have put the cherry on top of the icing on the cake!

In truth they didn’t play particularly well, a fact emphasised by the scoreline, which was a reasonably fair reflection of the game.

Inevitably, the question will now arise, can Manchester United win the FA Cup?
The short answer is, yes, anybody CAN win the FA Cup. Maybe the question should be WILL they win it? That is the more difficult to answer. (more…)

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(United’s other scorer, Daley Blind, would have been in this photo but he was out of position!)

Yet another “last game in charge” passes by for Louis van Gaal and he still remains in the Old Trafford hotseat! Mind you, if he doesn’t get sacked after losing games at home he is hardly likely to be removed after a 3-1 win away in the FA Cup.

It is reaching the stage now where nobody knows what he has to do to lose this job. Maybe wear a David Moyes mask, as he managed to lose the job with a better record than the Dutchman! Tonight though, was not going to be the last time the Dutchman was sat in the Manchester United dugout.

Having surrendered places in the Champion’s League, the Capital One Cup and the top four of the Premier League, United, at this precise moment in time, only have the Europa League and FA Cup left to play for. So both take on added importance, particularly as the Europa League winners will be granted entry into the Champion’s League next season. Having said that, the United faithful will take a trophy of any description at present!

Before the game Louis van Gaal had said that he hoped that the players would take their form and confidence from the training ground into the match. The problem with training is that it tends to be concentrated on the next opponents so in this case that would have been Derby County. (more…)

General view of the Fly Emirates FA Cup on display before kick off

In my formative years from 1965 – 1978 I was brought up watching the FA cup ties in awe. I was in awe of how attractive the competition was and how much it meant to be the winners of the trophy.

My first real memories are of Everton beating Sheffield Wednesday having been 2-0 down. I remember the goals from Mike Trebilcock and Derek Temple that gave them the trophy with a 3-2 win.

In those days, Everton were my second favourite team after Manchester United. I remember the standout players such as Gordon West, Alex Young and Brian Labone. That team should have won more than they did.

The FA Cup final meant a whole day in front of the television. Flipping between channels, (we only had ITV and BBC), was a must because you didn’t want to miss anything. Both channels covered the teams leaving their respective hotels and climbing on board the coaches that would take them to Wembley.

There would then be special FA Cup final editions of the likes of Quizball, an excellent programme hosted by David Vine, where representatives of two football teams would take each other on at a general knowledge quiz. (more…)