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Magic of the cup
Is this the best FA Cup in recent times?
Yes, previous recent incarnations have had ‘smaller’ teams make it to the final and have had a Portsmouth win with in the last decade.
But this year; we’ve had two non-league romantic runs, a scandal involving betting companies and pies and now (in lieu of having one of the aforementioned non-league teams in the final) we’ve got four of the best seven teams in the land going head-to-head; all with something to prove and a desire to win, who play attractive & attacking football, competing in a straight knock out game.
Have we had an FA Cup that has been so exciting in ages? I for one can’t wait.
Conor (Magic, eh?), Ireland
United’s woeful finishing
Having read Matt’s article and a number of mails from clearly frustrated United supporters, I can only ask, did I watch a different game?
The game I saw, United could easily have had 5 or 6 but for some reasonably pony finishing. I don’t think anyone would have criticised the tactics etc if the players had taken their chances as they should have done.
As a Liverpool fan I’m as happy as the next man to criticise Mou (more probably) but if his players won’t put the ball in the blooming net is he really to blame for that?
And while Ibra does slow things down a tad, does it really only take one good game from Rashford to usher Zlatan into retirement? Feels awfully kneejerk from here.
That said, Pogba really is total gubbins.
Evening the score
In your (typically) negative appraisal of United’s performance against Anderlecht, you say:
“That they had to rely upon a 19-year-old’s drive and leadership qualities hardly reflects well on the squad, nor the manager”
In the spirit of even-handedness, I look forward to your scathing write-up of Monaco’s disgraceful reliance on the form of an 18 year old striker in this season’s Champions League.
Unless of course it’s only Mourinho and United who should be criticised for having a good young player…
In response to Daniel (wishes Fellaini would jog on) Cambridge, you’re correct about the Fellaini part of your mail. I kept asking what the point of him was, but obviously it was just to win long balls into the box. The sooner we move away from that tactic the better as he offered little else. But… you’re probably going a bit far on your other points.
I think you’ll find that Mourinho loves Herrera, where he’s been the midfield lynchpin all season, and produced a MotM display to mark Hazard out of the game at the weekend. Mourinho simply wanted to give him a rest, and we were more than capable of beating Anderlecht without him.
However, your point about Rashford not ever being as good as Henry or Brazilian Ronaldo… Good grief man. You sum up what the problem is with a lot of fans these days. A very good player is looked down on simply because he might not be as good as some of the best strikers to ever play the game. Henry and Ronaldo are in that particular bracket, some of the best strikers EVER. It’s worth remembering that before Henry came to Arsenal and was at Juve he was a lot like Rashford, played out on the wing regularly and often couldn’t finish his dinner, but the potential was there.
Let the guy develop, get behind him and see the effort he’s already put in. He didn’t stop running all game, and you can see how much it means to him. Mourinho certainly can, and it’s why he gets so annoyed with Martial because he’s not displaying that same level of effort.
CJ (Another Right-Wing Forward to complement Martial and Rashford in the summer please)
…”Sometimes I don’t think he’ll ever be as good as Henry or Brazilian Ronaldo”. F*cking ‘ell, jog on Daniel.
Whilst I agree with many articles on F365 and we should applaud them perhaps more, I find it bit boring just to send mail that I agree with something. Having said that, article about Wilshere and Arsenal was top notch. Anyway, back to my subject, disagreeing with you.
Zlatan has been to Manchester United what Costa and Lukaku have been to Chelsea and Everton respectively. Big and strong player, important goals and focal point of attack for the team. He isn’t ofcourse identical player. I would argue that he is more skillful and better creator than Costa or Lukaku while naturally Chelsea’s and Everton’s strikers have their own strengths compared with Zlatan. Anyhow, the articles about him slowing ManU attacks and they are better off him is nonsense, in fact quite ridiculous. He might not be the fastest attacker (and has never been), but why should he? That’s why United have fast and tricky wide players. ManU has Martial, much applauded Rashford, Mikhtariyan and even Lingard to bring pace to the attack from left and right flank. Like Pedro and Hazard in Chelsea. Zlatan often drops deeper and offers great opportunity to bring others into play with his vision and shielding of ball. If United has been ponderous in some of their games, I would rather point finger at midfield and wider players than Zlatan who have not only scored goals from nothing but also been creative with his passing.
So if blame game is needed (which is bit silly since although ManU hasn’t set the world alight, they have long unbeaten record, they are still in Europe etc.), maybe it’s their tactics and other players at fault rather than the big Swede.
Matti Katara, Helsinki
Thank god for Ian H’s mail earlier. I had mailed in directly after the first 90 minutes of the United game and when Rashford scored that goal, I was sure if I got printed I would be pilloried and laughed at for my criticism of him, especially after the BT circle jerk.
Ian is spot on, my brother and I were pissing ourselves laughing at how far Owen Hargreaves and co had shoved their collective tongues up Rashford’s arse with the whole commentary team doing what English media do best and completely overhype a young English talent to the point of cringe.
Rashford had an average game with multiple chances to put this tie to bed, and made some shocking decisions with the ball, mishit shots and his goal was deflected, which neatly brought it just outside the keepers hand. Beautiful turn yes, but it was not enough to mask everything that came before. I thought his performance proved why we cannot rely on him to lead the line, not the opposite. When 1-on-1 with the keeper, he gave me the same feeling Welbeck did – I wonder how he will miss this one?
He’s 19, massively inconsistent and has a lot of learning to do, but he needs another 2-3 years to have shoulders big enough for that team and that league. Ibra will undoubtedly be replaced in the summer now I reckon, and with so many playmakers in our team I can see a big wedge of cash being spent on a sh*t hot striker for Rashford to continue his development with, or maybe even partner in hopefully a new formation. 3-5-2 again please, seems to work don’t ya think?
I am begging the English media to please relax with the hype and maybe be a bit more critical/realistic/less rapey of your emerging “stars” so he doesn’t end up like…….Andy Carroll, Jack Wilshere, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Walcott, Smelling, Jones, Joe Hart, John Stones, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley…..you get my point!
Rowan, Red Devil Dub
Very sad news to hear of Ugo Ehiogu’s passing, even more so given the circumstances. Heart conditions in athletes, young and old should be easily detected, particularly at the highest level and with the level of finances involved in football it should be a mandatory examination to have a heart scan at regular periods throughout a career.
As someone who has suffered and survived a cardiac arrest at a young age and has also experienced the impact regular screening can have, I feel it is a large subject that is not taken seriously in sport.
It may be naive to think that a regular echocardiogram provided to Ugo and his peers may have detected such an anomaly which can cause a cardiac arrest, but it is something that needs to be given to all athletes as a reassurance. The irony of Fabrice Muamba’s incident occurring at White Heart Lane should not be forgotten as the doctor involved in his resuscitation and rightly heavily praised for his efforts was, I understand, a Tottenham employee. Surely this would have led for a call for regular screening of all players and coaching staff. It may have caught Ugo’s condition, it may have not, but at least it may highlight the importance of regular screening. If someone has some insight to football clubs who regularly check their employees, I would be very interested to hear more about it.
…Really sad news about Ugo Ehiogu and it must be a distressing time for all at Spurs especially the younger players who he would have been close to.
Seeing that Ugo only ever got four caps for England is a reminder that we really did have a wealth of options in a number of positions not so long ago… my memories of him are being a rock solid defender and a classy operator alongside the equally classy Gareth Southgate.
A very sad thing to have happened and I’m sure he’ll get fitting tributes at all the clubs he graced this weekend.
Adam, LFC, Macc
…Ugo Ehiogu – I remember desperately wanting us to sign him when we had the best back four in the division.
Says it all about what a great player he was.
Thoughts are with his family, former colleagues but particularly Villa fans. He was one of the leading lights when you were actually worried about coming up against them.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
…Awful news about the untimely death of Ugo Ehiogu today. It got me thinking of how teams will pay their respect this weekend and in particular in the fa cup semi finals. I immediately thought to myself “they’ll probably have an applause” because that seems to be the general norm these days, and especially at Arsenal for a Spurs employee.
But wait a minute (if it does happen) how would that be appropriate to mark the sudden and unexpected death of a 44 year old husband and father? Is it because a group of people can’t be trusted to have a moment’s silence in respect of a seemingly decent and by all accounts lovely man taken from his family too early? What a bunch of morons football fans are sometimes.
If there is a silence ignore the above.
Andy Smith (Scunthorpe)
…Ugo Ehiogo absolutely deserves a minutes respect. But since the passing of a local binmen who once wore a club scarf also seems to get a minutes respect these days, how does a truly great club representative get properly respected?
Toby CTFC Hudson
5 Live love-in
Good piece from Jonny on 5 live – it’s by some distance also my favourite. Monday Night Club is superb and I’m actually disappointed when there is a live game on which cuts the debate short.
Have to disagree on a couple of points though. Pat Nevin is beyond irritating and if by ‘a connection to real world’ you mean a smug, absolutist, Guardian preaching know it all then yep he’s your man.
Also Alan Green is a tw@t.