While the preparation and hype build for this Saturday’s first FA Cup Final at the new Wembley, my message to Chelsea and Manchester United fans is to enjoy it while you can. I don’t think either team will put much emphasis on the tournament next year.
We saw this year how competing for four trophies can ruin a team. Chelsea definitely ran out of gas during the past few months which was also hampered by injuries.
Even with larger squads and fewer injuries, the top four Premiership clubs will need to prioritize next year which competitions they want to push for. The Champions League will be on top of Chelsea’s list once again as well as getting the Premiership title. The FA Cup and Carling Cup will simply get in their way.
So expect to see a lot of clubs playing reserve players. Arsenal showed this past season how it can be done. While Liverpool, Man United and Chelsea don’t have reserve squads with that calibre, the only way to get them to improve and gain confidence is by playing them in important matches in the FA Cup and League Cup.
Of course, for Arsenal the plan backfired. But that was more the fault of the Gunners’ first team who were unable to get past PSV Eindhoven and failed time and time again in the Premier League.
All of these clubs playing reserve players is going to make it harder for Fox Sports International to justify charging customers $25 to watch latter round FA Cup matches at home on TV. Maybe next year we’ll see a team emerge victorious that’s outside the top four?