Last night (Friday 2nd Jan) the third round of the so called ‘GREATEST CUP COMPETITION’ in the world kicked off, with Cardiff beating Colchester 3-1 to be the first name in the 4th round draw. They say that this weekend is one of the best of the season with all the ‘big boys’ entering the fray. However if FA Cup is so great why were there Premier League games scheduled only two days before, which has meant a whole load of games have been shifted to the Sunday (4th Jan), with further games on the Monday and then Tuesday (that’s a very long weekend). Furthermore it comes off the back of the usual hectic Christmas programme and lets be honest managers, especially for the top flight teams will be far more focused on league matters and it is inevitable that there will be a lot of changes in team selections with fringe players being given their opportunity. Unfortunately league position seems to matter more to clubs then the glory of winning the FA Cup (prize money a major factor and the millions clubs get for staying in the Premier League especially) and it does not help when you play the Round of 64 at the end of the busy festive season. So how can they make the FA Cup more appealing. Essentially for me the only real option is to allow the winners into the Champions League as that would definitely focus the mind. This is something I do not agree with as you can get lucky with the draw. However I would fully understand it happening as a way to make the tournament be at the forefront of clubs thoughts as six wins (eight if they start in the first round and potentially more if the unthinkable happened and a non-league team ended up victorious) could mean a place in Europe’s Premier Cup competition and a major cash bonanza.
As is always the case over the hectic Christmas footballing schedule there was the inevitable comments from managers and players about there being too many fixtures in such a short space of time and that maybe there should be a winter break. My personal view is that I love a bit of football over the holiday season and I am no advocate of a break just because its a bit nippy, however I would try to keep the fixtures to just two sets around Boxing Day and New Years Day. I would then plan for any other fixtures to already having been played earlier on or fit them in during the second half of the season. There are a few stumbling blocks to this, firstly as we play an extra cup competition in England (The Capital One Cup as it is known now) so midweeks in the early part of the season are taken up and that’s not mentioning a two-legged semi final. The FA Cup still has replays which potentially adds to the fixture congestion in the second half of the season. Add to that the ongoing issues in regards to playing top flight matches on the same night as Champions League games – the midweek options are lessened. The only way I can see a winter break and / or less matches over the Christmas period is for FA Cup replays to be ditched – don’t be surprised to see it happen soon – remember with a Qatar World Cup on the horizon in the winter of 2022 then a natural break will be enforced anyway and naturally football bosses my look to then incorporate this in future years – if it had not already been implemented.
Now going into 2015 one thing has got my appetite going and that is the Rugby World Cup (IN ENGLAND) that starts in September. Holders New Zealand are the clear favourites and are the best team in the World, but in one off games anything is possible. Personally I have a bit of a feeling that a Northern Hemisphere team could be victorious and one of (in alphabetical order) England, France, Ireland or Wales could be lifting the William Webb Ellis Trophy come October 31st and a win at Twickenham will be poignant for any of the four – BRING IT ON – ROLL ON SEPTEMBER 18TH 🙂
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