Five reasons why this season’s FA Cup has not been one to remember.

by Ryan Duggins

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Each year, the FA Cup brings the English football consumer, entertainment that (apparently) no other country brings to the table, as the joy of a second knock-out tournament makes its yearly appraisal.

And now, our journey has brought us to a completely underwhelming semi-final, where even the mere glimpse of the ties makes you wonder if the FA Cup itself is out to ruin its own enjoyment. Here’s five reasons why this year’s competition has not been one to remember.

1. FC United of Manchester

Every year, mostly out of sheer boredom, we are hooked by the stories and tales of the lower league clubs. TV companies go to the grounds and interview the tea lady, or the local fish monger, in an attempt to glisten a team with an optimistic shade of pity. Most years, we route for a team on the basis of good will. This season, we routed for redemption, revenge and nastiness.

We shouted from our sofa-terrace at the players of FC United of Manchester, praying that they could muster up a bit of magic to install the possibility of a tie with their namesakes. We would say things like ‘My god, could you imagine if they played each other. It would be so intense’. Let’s be honest, our hope for FC United of Manchester, apart from true red devils, was based on the grounds that Nani might be punched in the face by a lower-league lout.

2. Crawley Town

Never has a team divided the opinion of football fans like Crawley Town. Actually, I will re-phrase that. No team has ever separated Football intellects and Football hooligans quite like Crawley Town.

Ignorance can sometimes be bliss, but the most of us who follow the goings-on in football couldn’t quite wallow in the Crawley Story. Managed by a fraudster, funded by almost anonymous businessmen and accumulating a total expenditure this season greater than all of the teams in League 2 put together; I just can’t see why we didn’t buy into their romantic quest.

Fair enough to the people who did support them this season, but Crawley’s trip to Old Trafford brought from inside me the only time where I wished for the home side to dish out a mauling, which is never good.

3. ITV

Since ITV have taken over the rights for the FA Cup, all I have felt for the coverage is hatred. The monotone presenting of Matt Smith, the mindless drawls of Andy Townsend, the rubbish Irish analyst that no one has ever heard of, all combine to make really poor viewing.

It all starts with the completely unfunny KIA adverts, as the FA Cup is seemingly championed by three dull, lifeless men who make really bad football-based innuendos, predictions, crap car-games and just general drabness. Keith, Ian and Andy are my least favourite people in football.

And the Comic stuff? Who’s idea was it to make our longest running, most prestigious competition like an episode of Yu-Gi-Ho? Or even worse, a comic strip that can be found in the middle pages of a tabloid newspaper? And if I have to witness the needlessly aggressive and pretentious nature of Ned Boulting and Gabriel Clarke, both seemingly give themselves a high-five after each interview, I will personally sit them both down and ask questions like ‘What do you two ever bring to the table other than mildy annoying the players and managers?”

Bring back BBC coverage, and fast. This ITV malarkey is actually making ESPN’s Robbie Savage seem insightful, which is never good.

4. Stoke have made the Semi-final

Yes, call it snobbery, call it disrespect, call it what you will, but Stoke City are a team that really doesn’t get me going. The medium of the FA Cup should really be the tunnel in which my feelings towards them should change, as their style harps back to a time of a rougher nature. For those of you who mention their wait for success, recollecting the team of Stanley Matthews and other greats, let me throw you this; If Tony Pulis was manager of Stoke City back then, he would work Matthews so his legs would buckle under intense fitness training, brand him ‘too fancy’ and ship him out on loan to The Championship faster than you can say ‘incompetent manager’.

Pulis has flirted with expanding his horizons with Gudjohnsen and Tuncay, but he gave up and resorted to lumping it up to Kenywyne Jones. When Stoke played West Ham last week, they played pretty much exactly the same way as they did yesterday, relying on hope that West Ham wouldn’t be up for it rather than tactical nous. When he looks over to his opposite dug out ina few weeks time, he will see a team that have made a successful transition from route one to neat football, all starting with a change in management. Not even Sam Allardyce instructed his players to play as direct as Stoke do. For Bolton to make the final would be a great advert for the FA Cup. Stoke making it, would be an embarrassment.

5. The Manchester Derby is a round too early

I don’t think there could be an argument against the notion that a Manchester Derby, at Wembley, in the final of the FA Cup would be a match that everyone would want to see, worldwide. The ultimate showdown depicting just who is the superior colour in Manchester. The cup final that everyone associated with Manchester City is yearning for, and a match that United have been lucky to scrape through over the last few years. The gap has been closing, and what a fitting way to represent this than an FA Cup final. But the winner of this heated and dynamic explosion of talent, skill and wits will go on to face Bolton or Stoke City.

Having this as the semi would be similar to heading to The Ivy for gourmet dining, then trudging to McDonalds for a McFlurry dessert. This season, the FA Cup has been on a mission to ruin our footballing experience, so much so that the Carling Cup has restored its reputation.

Freelancer Ryan Duggins can be found Tweeting HERE

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  • stan

    great blog, I’m 100% with you on the ITV point. They should be banned from football all together. Their analysis is always poor at best.

    As Keith, Ian and Andy, yep, very unfunny indeed!

  • Ben McAleer

    Very much behind you on the ITV sense. Useless clowns the lot of them.

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