Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 30 January 2017

The romance of the cup. Provided you’re Manchester United.

Word reaches me that the BBC, who were scheduled to show Man U’s fourth round tie verses Wigan, applied to the FA to screen the Lincoln City v Brighton game instead. The FA turned it down thus depriving the nation of seeing a genuine FA Cup story in favour of seeing possibly the most televised club stroll into the fifth round.

More importantly it deprived City of further revenue and TV exposure. Why help along a struggling club in a football backwater when you can further enrich one of, if not the wealthiest clubs in the world?

Furthermore, the FA can hardly accuse the big clubs of not taking the competition seriously or following the money when they do that. Who's following the money now?

Anyway, rant over, to the game and this was the romance of the cup made flesh as City got to grips with, for me, a very fluid and slick Brighton side who looked anything but once they’d shot themselves in the foot with a foolhardy foul in the box followed by one of the daftest own goals you’ll ever see. This allowed the Imps to haul themselves ahead and once ahead, even with eight minutes of injury time were never going to let the prize of a place in tonight’s draw slip.

As I was at the last occasion City were in the fourth round, away to West Bromwich Albion, I’m able to make a comparison. Albion were a very good side, like Brighton destined for what was then the First Division. Managed by Johnny Giles they did indeed gain promotion and were deserved winners although it was a close run thing. Brighton are a very good side, I’ll grant them that but I think WBA were better.

Of course in those days the top clubs took the FA Cup seriously and I don’t remember anyone putting out a weakened side. Coming up to date what is a weakened side? Brighton put out a team of championship standard players, just as City fielded our own fringe players in the last round of the FA Trophy but they were still championship standard players against us as ours were still national league players in the Trophy.

I’m not sure City looked like National League standard players, particularly in the second half of the cup game though. I may be looking through rose tinted glasses but I thought if you’d been transported to the game and didn’t know what you were watching you’d think it was a championship game rather than honest toilers versus the aristocrats. I can’t praise our players any higher than that.

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