Fernandes destined to join James, Shearer in XI of players who lost successive FA Cup finals

James Wiles
Chelsea defender Reece James
Reece James once started three consecutive FA Cup final defeats

Bruno Fernandes and his Manchester United teammates are widely expected to do the honours for Manchester City at Wembley again. Alan Shearer would be proud.

Manchester City might not deem 115 to be a pleasant figure but it does mark the number of years since local rivals and FA Cup opponents Manchester United first won football’s oldest competition.

The Red Devils have lifted the trophy 12 times in all and lucky number 13 would mean destroying City’s dreams of a domestic double. However, Pep Guardiola’s men are the clear favourites to triumph yet again and condemn their neighbours to successive defeats at Wembley.

Here’s an XI made up from players who lost two FA Cup finals in a row.

 

Goalkeeper: Bob Roberts
West Brom reached three finals in a row from 1886 to 1888, with the first two both ending in defeat for the West Midlands club. England international Bob Roberts was the keeper for all three matches and produced a magnificent display against heavy favourites Preston North End in ’88 to help the Baggies to their first of five FA Cup triumphs.

 

Right-back: Reece James
Chelsea became the first club to lose three finals in a row two years ago, with current captain James appearing in all the defeats. The COVID Final of 2020 started things off, as Mikel Arteta trumped Frank Lampard, before Leicester City won the competition for the first time a year later, preventing a double of FA Cup and Champions League for Chelsea. Liverpool’s penalty-shootout victory in 2022 completed a miserable hat-trick for the Blues.

 

Centre-back: Arthur Kinnaird
A star of the Victorian era, Kinnaird played in a record nine finals, winning the competition on five occasions. Three of those were in succession but Kinnaird also lost two in a row whilst lining up for Old Etonians. Royal Engineers bested them to win their first and only FA Cup in 1875, while inaugural winners Wanderers lifted the trophy for a third time with victory the following year.

 

Centre-back: Charles Campbell
Scotland’s oldest professional club Queen’s Park competed in the English FA Cup in the competition’s formative years and reached the final two years running. Blackburn had the task of keeping the trophy on home soil in 1884 and 1885, with an all Scottish XI facing them, including international defender and club captain Campbell. Rovers ended up edging out the Queen’s Park on both occasions, with the cup not leaving England until Cardiff’s win over Arsenal in 1927.

 

Left-back: Peter McWilliam
In the present-day Newcastle United’s long wait for a trophy goes on but back in 1905 the Magpies were on for a Double after winning the First Division and reaching the final of the FA Cup. However, the league champions went down 2-0 to Aston Villa and suffered defeat again a year later with a 1-0 loss to Everton: the Toffees’ first victory in the competition. Scotland international McWilliam played in both games and went on to lose another final with the club in 1908. Two years later, at the fourth attempt, Newcastle finally had their name on the cup with a 2-0 win over Barnsley.

 

Central midfield: Nemanja Matic
Arsene Wenger’s incredible record in the FA Cup concluded in 2017, with Arsenal’s 2-1 win over London rivals Chelsea in the final marking the Frenchman’s seventh triumph in the competition. A year later Chelsea did get their hands on the trophy after beating Manchester United 1-0 thanks to an Eden Hazard penalty. Unfortunately for Nemanja Matic, he managed to lose both of those finals, having made the switch to the Red Devils in the intervening summer.

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Central midfield: Peter Reid
Everton looked to be on course for a Double in 1985, winning the league with a 13-point gap over Merseyside rivals Liverpool with a spot secured in the cup final against Manchester United. The Wembley showpiece was a tight affair and went to extra-timeĀ after Kevin Moran’s lunging tackle took Reid out as he was through on goal. Moran became the first person in FA Cup final history to be sent off, but despite being a man down the Red Devils ended up winning the trophy thanks to a superb run and strike from Norman Whiteside. A year later Everton had the chance to stop Liverpool winning a Double too, but Reid and co. went down 3-1 to the Reds, even after Gary Lineker had given Howard Kendall’s men a first-half lead.

 

Central midfield: Bobby Charlton
In 1957, Mr Manchester United was at the start of an extraordinary career and looking to inspire his side to a Double after the Busby Babes had won the league for a second consecutive year. However, in a time before substitutes, a robust challenge from Peter McParland on goalkeeper Ray Wood left the Red Devils a man down, helping opponents Aston Villa to a 2-1 win. Tragedy struck the following February, with the Munich Air Crash claiming the lives of eight United players, while two more never played again. Against allĀ odds, Busby’s assistant Jimmy Murphy led the side to Wembley in May, but only Charlton and defender Bill Foulkes remained from the previous year’s final. A strong Bolton side proved to be a step too farĀ thanks to a braceĀ from England forward Nat Lofthouse.

 

Striker: Allan Clarke
Leicester City reached three finals in the 1960s and finished as runners-up in all of them, with a 1-0 loss to Manchester City in ’69 completing the unwanted hat-trick. Despite the defeat, Foxes striker Allan Clarke was voted as man-of-the-match and his performances that season earned him a big money move to Leeds United in the summer. Clarke enjoyed a successful spell at Elland Road but his first season with club ended in another FA Cup loss, with his new side losing out to Chelsea in the infamous final of 1970.

 

Striker: Alan Shearer
No matter how much Kevin Keegan would’ve loved it
, Newcastle United couldn’t beat Manchester United to the Premier League in the mid-90s, twice ending the season as runners-up to Alex Ferguson’s men. It was second-best again in 1999, with the Magpies failing to halt the Red Devils’ relentless pursuit of the treble in the FA Cup. It was a second successive final defeat for Newcastle, having lost the previous year to Arsenal and their completion of the domestic Double. Those gamesĀ proved to be the closest hometown hero Shearer got to a trophy in his long stay at St. James’ Park.

 

Striker: Steve Bloomer
Just like Newcastle United, Derby County lost the last two FA Cup finals of a century while having England’s star striker on their books. Bloomer was the Shearer of his day and despite his incredible strike rate for his country, he couldn’t secure the cup for the Rams. Bloomer was on the scoresheet in the final of 1898 as his side fell to rivals Nottingham Forest, followed by another defeat in ’99 after Sheffield United came from behind to win 4-1.

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