Sunday, April 11, 2021

Is the FA Cup still a special competition?

David Nugent in Editorial, FA Cup 7 Jan 2019

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The FA Cup used to be a famed competition throughout the world, with foreign players loving the tradition and history of supposedly the oldest football cup competition in the world. However, some of the magic of the FA Cup has faded in recent years, as the glamour and the glitz of the Premier League and Champions League has blinded everybody in sight.

Staggered kick-offs

The FA Cup weekend used to be special, as most cup ties took place on Saturday at 3 PM or Sunday at the latest. Now we staggered kick-offs with the third round taking place over four days and nights, starting Friday and finishing tonight.

Does anybody really like Friday night football in England? We are now accustomed to Monday night football, but football on a Friday night has taken a lot more getting used to than its Monday counterpart.

Anyway, the staggered kick-offs are of course motivated by money and television channels. Football may have more glitter with the influx of money into the game, but it’s lost its magic.

The FA Cup third round turned off many people this time around because the majority of the live games were televised on pay-tv, with only a few ties shown on terrestrial television. I miss the days of the games televised on terrestrial television when the two main channels would show a few games each on Saturday or Sunday.

Teams not taking the competition seriously

One other factor in the FA Cup losing its magic is the fact that many Premier League clubs just decide to field weakened teams in the competition. Even teams who will have very little to play for come the end of the season field rotated starting line-ups.

These teams field their fringe players and rest their star players. One classic example on Sunday was Leicester City. Foxes boss Claude Puel fielded a weakened team and his side suffered a 2-1 defeat at League Two Newport County.

While some will claim that Leicester should have had enough to beat Newport, why exactly is Puel resting the likes of Jamie Vardy? The Foxes are in midtable in the top-flight. They are not likely to break into the top-six and will not have a relegation battle on their hands.

Why not field a strong team and attempt to win silverware. It doesn’t make any sense. The Foxes did the unthinkable and won the Premier League title, so why not the FA Cup. It makes no sense.

Last game of the third round played this evening

The last of the FA Cup third round ties takes place tonight, as Wolves host Premier League leaders Liverpool at Molineux. Jurgen Klopp’s side are odds of 10/11 to win the game.

However, the Merseysiders are likely to follow suit of many top-flight rivals by naming a weakened team for the game. It remains to be seen if the home side will also field a team without their top players.

Liverpool have some decent depth in their squad, so some of the players who will start will be better than the first-choice players at a lot of Premier League clubs. The Reds fielding a weakened team also makes sense, as they have higher priorities this season.

If Liverpool field a weakened team and lose, I doubt many Reds fans will shed any tears. That’s sad, but it’s the reality. The FA Cup is no longer high on the list of priorities of clubs and that has contributed to the competition being far less special.

Is the FA Cup still a special competition?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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