Lose The Final, Lose Your Pre-Season...

It will be all about the trophy for either Chelsea or Liverpool on Saturday but the losers will rue defeat again if they're playing Europa League football on August 2...

Last Updated: 03/05/12 at 11:01 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Football Managers On TV: Alan Pardew

3 comments

Expensive suit, no tie, giving him the look of a randy divorcee, drenched in Joop aftershave. Johnny and Al look at The North East¿s Most Popular Man, Alan Pardew...

F365's Greater Manchester Quiz - The Questions

Post comment

With the Manchester derby taking place on Sunday, we bring you a quiz of football in the Greater Manchester area. There are plenty of clubs to choose from...

All Articles

As responses to losing 4-0 at Wigan go, Newcastle's 2-0 Papiss Cisse-inspired victory at Chelsea takes some beating. Meanwhile Harry Redknapp, the poor lamb, will feel a little better after the 4-1 win at Bolton preserved their fourth-place standing, and so will those bleating about a) his England rejection and/or b) the FA's failure to reject him earlier. As well as ensuring a fraught battle for third and fourth, Wednesday night's Premier League results also had implications for what is at stake at Wembley on Saturday.

The FA Cup final is about glory, he says, reading from a script decades old but in which he still believes. When John Terry or Steven Gerrard lifts the trophy on Saturday evening they will be taking part in a tradition that dates back to 1872, one that set in train all the other titles which they and other footballers have ever contested. Try telling anyone inside Wembley, joyous in victory or disconsolate in defeat, that it does not matter. The competition is weakened by the financial rewards of the Premier League and the Champions League but you wouldn't believe an Evertonian or a Tottenham fan saying that they are pleased to be in league action on Sunday instead of back at Wembley the previous teatime, whatever finish the latter may achieve in the table.

Still, Saturday's game is not just about Saturday. The cup final's result will have ramifications for next season, something that was first the case for Wolves with the introduction of the European Cup Winners' Cup (deceased) in 1960-61. It would be preferable if the FA a few years back had tried to persuade UEFA that our cup winners should take up a Champions League place, but a Europa League slot will have to suffice.

You may point out that Liverpool and Chelsea have already qualified for that competition for next season, the Reds through the Carling Cup and the Blues via a minimum sixth-place finish, with the latter hoping to retain their place in the Champions League by winning the final against Bayern in Munich on May 19. But unlike the old days there is qualification and then there is qualifying.

If Liverpool have to rely on their penalties victory against Cardiff then they will be playing in the Europa League's third qualifying round on August 2 and 9 - in the middle of the Olympics - and hoping to make the play-offs on the 23rd and 30th. If the Reds complete a cup double, though, then they will have a bye into the group stages. These calculations are reliant on UEFA sticking by the existing access list, but that is highly likely.

Chelsea could just still finish third or fourth but if they complete a losing cup double and qualify for Europe as the Premier League's sixth team, then it is they who will have to face those aggravatingly timed knock-out games.

If Liverpool win at Wembley and Chelsea win the big one in Munich or achieve a domestic miracle then one team qualifying via the Premier League will be in the play-off, another in the third qualifying round. Otherwise, one of the cup finalists will face a badly disrupted pre-season, with the need to be at competitive level a fortnight earlier than their domestic rivals.

No manager will want to have an early-season embarrassment on their record. The Europa League lacks a degree of glamour but if you have a modern-sized squad then you need competitions in which to rotate and the larger the club, the more you make simply by staging matches.

Winning the cup is all about glory but if you lose the final you would rather forget about it. There is a decent chance that Saturday's runners-up will be reminded about it through every step of a premature pre-season and via matches they would really, really wish to do without.

Philip Cornwall

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

e might be on a hiding to nothing, but I cannae feel any sympathy- You want to know why? Shakira. That's why.

hairpolice
Pique Taking Blame Burden Again...

A

nd this season must feel like one long sigh at the Emirates . Yep, exactly that. Except for Alexis Sanchez, he's ace.

cheshire-gooner
Is Mario Balotelli's Talent Even That 'Obvious'?

H

ey! At least put our first clean sheet in a gazillion years in the winners section. Curse you F365 *shakes fist*

fouloleron
Is Mario Balotelli's Talent Even That 'Obvious'?

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Swansea's Federico Fernandez avoids three-match ban after successful appeal

Swansea have successfully appealed the straight red card issued to Federico Fernandez against Liverpool this week.

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon says he would 'relish the chance' to play Rangers

Craig Gordon says he would relish the chance to play Rangers if the clubs were paired in the Scottish League Cup semis.

Real Madrid and Spain legend Raul joins New York Cosmos

Real Madrid legend Raul has agreed a deal with North American Soccer League side New York Cosmos.

Mail Box

'Pride' Didn't Stop Wenger Signing Flamini

Arsene Wenger's 'pride' in signings is quite rightly pulled apart. We also have a stupidly long email on going back, and one Mailboxer whooping about the FA Cup first round...

Wenger Kept His Pride By Turning Down Cesc

What message would it have sent if Wenger had allowed those that walked out to stroll back in? Plus, why Pochettino needs to adapt and the folly of limiting yourself...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property