In Soccer America today, writer Paul Gardner argued that The FA Cup just ain’t what it used to be. While I agree with some of his points, I believe the magic of the FA Cup still exists based on Leyton Orient’s marvelous comeback against Arsenal on Sunday, and Crawley Town’s heroic challenge against Manchester United at Old Trafford. These were just two examples of matches where the FA Cup spirit flourished this weekend.
For Gardner to criticize Birmingham City versus Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea against Everton as two horrible matches to watch doesn’t have much to do with the FA Cup. Birmingham City is a negative team to watch on most days. Sheffield Wednesday is a team under a new manager who are playing poorly in League One. And Chelsea and Everton are both going through some of their worst patches in recent memory. The FA Cup should not be faulted for a few underwhelming matches.
But whether The FA Cup isn’t what it used to be or not, what do you think? How important is the FA Cup to you? Did you care about the matches played this past weekend? And what do you think about the FA Cup tournament as a whole? Does it turn you on, or not? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
From my perspective, the relevance of the FA Cup has decreased over the years because clubs now place more value in the Premier League and Champions League. With those two competitions meaning so much to clubs financially, the FA Cup by default becomes less critical during one of the most critical times of the season. Right now every match matters. To get your star players injured in, for example, a FA Cup match against Crawley Town, when your reserves could play instead and hold on for a victory, is something that must run through the minds of every Premier League manager who is still in the FA Cup.
The FA Cup is still important for me. Not as important as the Premier League or Champions League. But more important than the Carling Cup. And more important than international friendlies, such is the dire predicament of meaningless international matches.
So, roll on The FA Cup. I’m looking forward to seeing Stoke City play the winners of today’s West Ham United versus Burnley. One of those three teams will qualify for the semi-finals at Wembley. The prospect of seeing Manchester United play the winner of Leyton Orient and Arsenal is mouthwatering. So too is the opportunity for the winner of Birmingham City against Bolton to make it to the FA Cup semi-final. Last, but not least, you have Manchester City or Aston Villa playing the winner of Everton versus Reading.