Many reasons are given for the decline in status of the FA Cup. Once it was the only televised game; overseas players are unaware of its traditions and their domestic Cup competition is not taken so seriously ; the financial imperative of staying in the Premier and European cup competitions lead to fielding weakened sides.; the constant tinkering, this season one of its attractions the draw took place before the round was completed.
I would add one more. The absence of a giant killer. From Yeovil beating the Bank Of England club Sunderland, to Hereford overcoming Newcastle, it’s the stuff of legends. The only problem here is the shift in status. Forty years ago Fulham winning at Leeds would be classed as giant killing – now they would be favourites. Nonetheless there was not one surprise yesterday in all the results, though Watford played well to take a two goal lead at Manchester City.
There was an excellent article by the always insightful Glenn Moore of The Independent on the Cup abroad. In Italy the draw is seeded; in Germany the weaker team is drawn at home; France curiously includes its own colonial outposts, so games are played in Reunion. However, not much can be learned as the Cup is still taken less seriously.
This season, with so many more teams potentially liable to be relegated or already in European competition, I was looking for a handful of teams to whom this did not apply for my winner, and only came up with Liverpool, Southampton and Newcastle, the latter now eliminated. It’s all such a shame for those of us who remember the Cup Final as the pinnacle of the season and for the fans who will never forget an epic victory at Wembley, such as Sunderland achieved over Leeds, or Coventry over Tottenham. Whatever medicine is administered, I simply cannot see 28 million again watching a televised game, as happened for the Cup Final replay between Chelsea and Leeds in 1970.