FA Cup not what it used to be
Published: 25.01.13 / Written by: David Gold
I can remember a time when the FA Cup used to be a highlight of the football year.
Today the competition is constantly talked up by those looking to help it bask in some of its former glory, but these are often empty words. The competition simply does not mean what it used to, and does not have the same lustre and significance.
In large part this is due to the Champions League. That competition has reduced the importance of the cup in the eyes of the country’s biggest teams. For Manchester United, the fact they have not won the competition for almost a decade is incidental. When Sir Alex Ferguson recently discussed that fact, it was almost as though he was saying “oh, really? Haven’t we won it. Wouldn’t it be nice to get our hands on the trophy again?” Yes, it would be. But you suspect he won’t shed a tear if they made an early exit again. The same could be said of Arsenal. Whilst it would be useful to help them end their trophy drought, Wenger has won the competition a number of times. Sure, it would be a trophy in the cabinet, but it would not really prove anything. Arsenal can only prove that they are back at the top again when they win the league.
Manchester City have won the competition recently, but there is little incentive for them to take it really, really seriously. Retaining the Premier League title is the fundamental preoccupation for Roberto Mancini’s side. The FA Cup would be nice, but it is not the be all and end all. Chelsea have also won the competition numerous times and it is not the end of the world for them either. Liverpool would probably be more enthusiastic, given their attempt to rediscover their former glories, but having fired Kenny Dalglish last season in spite of winning one cup and reaching the final of another, the club have made it clear that their priorities lie in the league. Tottenham are probably the side who would be most desperate of those towards the top to win the trophy again. They have a great FA Cup tradition too, yet you suspect the trophy could fall in the priority list if the Champions League battle is as tight as it was last year. And if Tottenham progress further in the Europa League it would possibly be more of a priority too.
Even teams like Swansea have rested players this weekend in the FA Cup. It simply does not mean what it used to. Winning a trophy is not as important as a league finish or European prestige anymore. It is a shame, but the FA Cup just is not the same as it was before the turn of the century.