SWANNY'S WORLD OF SPORT: Zzzzz...wake me up when it's over
Neil Warnock, in a rare moment of clear headedness, summed the FA Cup up best.
“I struggled to get out of bed,” the Cardiff City boss said of his side’s third round tie with Championship rivals Fulham, and not just because silly TV arrangements demanded the fixture kicked off at 11.30am on a Sunday.
I would have slept through the entire third round as well, but for a commitment at Stamford Bridge.
Watching Posh play Chelsea wasn’t much of a chore, but there was never any chance of an upset. Even a second string home side were too quick, too strong and too good for Grant McCann’s industrious side.
Magic is a myth. The magic of the FA Cup more so. The only people who really believe the self-proclaimed ‘greatest club knockout competition in the world’ retains its lustre get paid by the BBC and BT, not just to promote it, but to holler mistruths from the rooftops.
There is a wicked irony at work here. The TV companies try and attract you to their programmes by banging about romance, giant-killers and postmen who deliver goals, before showing a live game between Spurs Reserves and Aston Villa, Liverpool youths and Plymouth or Manchester United against Whoever They Were Drawn Against This Time.
It’s been hilarious watching football presenters Dan Walker and Gary Lineker try and defend the BBC’s predictable approach to picking live games. Neither of them were capable of stating the bleeding obvious fact that TV viewing figures is by far and away the biggest determining factor.
More people will always watch United than Stourbridge which is fair enough, but spare us the claptrap about lower league clubs living the dream and your fake interest in the likes of Sutton United and Millwall.
Judging by the help I had to give a BBC bod before the Chelsea game on Sunday, pre-match preparation on unfamilar clubs and players is a bind.
The FA Cup as a competition of stature died years ago. It’s now just a series of dull games played out between understrength teams in front of sparse crowds.
Hull v Swansea, two Premier League teams remember, scored highly in every criteria. Only 6,000 fans turned up.
Before the Premier League riches started to ruin the sport, the FA Cup was a priority for every club.
When Bournemouth, a team destined for a mid-table finish, put a 10th place finish in the Premier League ahead of a tilt at a Wembley victory, you know the game has gone.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe insulted his travelling fans by making 11 changes to his starting line-up ahead of a 3-0 defeat at Millwall.
I can remember who won the FA Cup in 1953 (Blackpool), 1973 (Sunderland) and 1981 (Ricky Villa), but I couldn’t tell you the winners in 2010, 2012 or 2014. It was probably Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.
And there’s another problem. Predictability also kills interest.