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Fourth or cup?
The question of whether it is better to finish fourth of win a cup is going to be different for each club.
Let’s take Portsmouth as an example. Winning the FA cup is something their fans will always have, whereas if they had finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League what does that achieve? Maybe a couple of marquee fixtures against European heavyweights, most likely finishing third or fourth in the group (if even getting past the qualifying rounds), resulting in poor leaguer form due to increased amount of matches.
Alternatively Liverpool – winning the FA cup would be great, but in actuality probably has no long term effect on the club. Finishing fourth however puts them back on the biggest stage, allowing them to attract a higher calibre of player (granted not always the case, but more likely).
Each club and set of fans will have different priorities.
Doesn’t the nature of 4th make a difference? I would take a close fought 2nd having played scintillating football and just missing out on the last day over a Domestic Cup, but not over a tame 4th secured 6 points behind 3rd, but 4 ahead of 5th. Were we also competing in Europe at the same time making top four and European quarters a marathon effort more worthy than a League Cup sprint?
What about your club? These days as a City fan a single domestic cup in a season is nice, but without 4th or higher (and assuming European commitments as well) it’s a bit underwhelming. But before the money? I would have been ecstatic at the thought of a domestic cup turning the attention away from yo-yoing between mid-table obscurity and battling relegation.
I’d say the main finding from the current poll is to see the proportion of football365 readers support the biggest teams. As touched on in the morning mailbox I think the only people who would choose the top 4 over a trophy would be fans who are used to winning trophies and regularly compete in finals, so the occasion loses its allure. Aside from Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and possibly Man City I can’t think of any supporter base who would turn down the opportunity to win something. As a Newcastle fan I have cherished memories of Asprilla’s hat trick against Barcelona, Bellamy’s last minute winner against Feyenoord, thumping Leverkusen in Germany…but I’d gladly switch all of them for the experience to see my team at Wembley, actually lift something. Although it was only one person I was interested to see a supporter in the morning mailbox who refers to the Europa league as depressing, claiming that you aren’t a real team unless you’re in the Champions League. Is that a widespread view or an isolated outlook amongst big club fanbases?
I’d open up this debate a little further and ask how many (non-top 6) sides would take a trophy if it also meant relegation. As far as I’m aware Wigan and Birmingham fans were pretty happy with the trade off. Maybe not Portsmouth so much…
Kevin, (Note that I’m not saying all fans of those bigger sides feel that way, but that you’re most likely to feel that way by supporting a successful side), Nottingham
When people talk of whether its better to finish in the top 4 or win a cup, people inevitably start to blame Arsenal for ruining football and other such nonsense.
Whilst I would agree, to a small extent, that Arsenal’s attitude towards domestic cup competitions has been poor, they cannot be blamed, nor can they be seen in isolation for ‘destroying’ cup competitions.
For example, watch SKY/BT/BBC this weekend and count the number of times that ‘the top 4’ is mentioned. Most league tables nowadays now mark the top 4, similar to the bottom 3, so its clearly become a large part of our footballing life. The FA/EFL Cups are then reduced to BBC2, the end of sports bulletins etc.
The prize money at stake for finishing in the top 4 is also massive in contrast to winning the FA/EFL Cup. Obviously you get the glory for winning a cup, but you don’t then get to play in the Champions League, against the ‘best’ players, which is what most footballers want. I’m not defending the CL at all, but you see what most footballers aims, at the start of the season, would be to get in the CL rather than win the EFL Cup.
The glory of the FA Cup has also been diluted, in part, by the FA. Removing replays, semi finals at Wembley etc, stupid kick off times.
Finally, its not even the ‘top’ clubs that play weakened teams in the cup competitions – even the smaller clubs will play reserve/youth players, to rest players for league games.
Frankly 4th place can just sod off.
What’s the point?
I bet Leicester would take champs league and 17th. (I am scared that the world will implode if they actually win the thing).
Mancs would probably accept Europa league and 6th.
Most of the league would take a cup and a midtable finish.
It’s all about trophies. It’s all about winning. 4th is nothing. It’s not glorious failure. It’s not a trip to Wembley. It is a UEFA construct rewarding mediocrity.
H, (3rd place can sod off too)
You broke it
Is Guy S really blaming Arsenal for the FA Cup losing its mystique?!
That would be the Arsenal who with United have won a record number of FA Cups and whose manager has won the thing more times than anybody.
Arsenal prioritised Champions League qualification because we had to pay off the debt on the stadium – it’s no surprise that as the purse strings have loosened normal service has resumed and we’ve won another couple of FA Cups.
Wenger and Arsenal love this trophy and always have done.
It’s money that’s ruined the FA Cup not Arsenal. Arsenal needed money from the Champions League to pay the debt on the stadium and lower Premier League teams prioritise their league status over the cup so they can continue to dine at the top table and pay everyone’s wages. Relegation costs these clubs big time – look at the likes of Coventry, Charlton and more recently Bolton.
It’s all about priorities. We can’t all be Man Utd – a club with the capabilities to throw stupid money at a player they let go for free.
I’m not saying it’s right – it would be great if everyone felt they could afford to field their best teams in the FA Cup but I’m not going to judge any club that fields a second string when coming against a Liverpool or a Chelsea in the cup when they have a relegation six pointer coming up the following week.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Guy S asks “What happened to the charm and allure (felt around the world) of the FA Cup?” and makes the spurious claim that Arsenal have broken English football
Well, the FA Cup must have been lacking in charm and allure back in the 1999-2000 season when your beloved Manchester United decided to give it a miss in order to go and finish fifth out of eighth at the Club World Championships.
Incidentally I agree (as most right-minded fans would) that a trophy is better than fourth place any day of the week, but let’s not pretend that disrespecting the English cups is a recent thing which Arsenal started.
Nik, Kent Gooner.
Surely I can’t be the only reader who appreciated the delicious irony of Man Utd fan Guy S castigating Arsenal for ruining the charm and allure of the FA Cup?
I’m afraid Guy, it was Man Utd’s decision to withdraw from the competition in the 99/00 season (when defending champions no less!) that really was the death-knell for the FA Cup.
Praise for Dejan
Hey United fans, remember that one season when you started off worse than this season? No, me neither. Praise be to Mourinho!
If there is something I like more than a sweary rants from United fans it’s getting ready to watch Liverpool go top of the league. I agree with Degsy that Origi is a willing deputy in Coutinho’s absence. When Divock goes on a run like the one he’s on now he is very difficult to stop.
I wanted to write in to heap praise on Dejan Lovren. What a turn around for the Croatian defender. Against Southampton and Sunderland he looked like a man possessed. Much of his improvement must be attributed to the consistent back four.
Having Matip (signing of the season, possibly decade) next to Lovren has really seemed to instill belief in the once maligned center back. It also doesn’t hurt to have the reliable James Milner on the other side who has rarely put a foot wrong this season.
I hard to believe I’m watching the same defender that two years ago looked like a deer on ice against Yannik Bolasie.
Long may it continue.
Brian (trophy over fourth place all day, every day) LFC
Managers doing a Kante
In response to the mail by James Bruschini I can think of two managers that have won back to back league titles with different clubs. The first is everyone’s favourite crazy Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal winning Eredivisie with AZ in 2008-09 and then winning the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2009-10. The other manager being Fabio Capello who won Serie A with Roma in 1995-96 before winning La Liga with Real Madrid in 1996-97. He also won the Serie A again in 2006-06 with Juventus (later revoked of course so doesn’t really count) before returning to Real Madrid to win La Liga in 2006-07.
The Arsenal Express was a day early this year. Regular as badly made clockwork. From a website not a 427 million miles away from here:
1st Dec 2016 http://www.football365.com/news/oh-arsenal-cazorla-set-for-surgery-lengthy-lay-off
2nd Dec 2015 http://www.football365.com/news/arsenal-that-cazorla-out-for-at-least-three-months
Paul (Cambs Gooner)
To Stu’s very good question about irrational dislikes in football: I’ve developed a tendency to shout at opponent players on the big screen in a pub if I can suddenly vividly imagine them doing another job. For example: “f*ck off John O’ Shea, you look like a friendly postman!” or “why aren’t you an estate agent, Chris Smalling?” The victims tend to be lummoxy looking players and normally my anger has subsided by the time I get halfway through the sentence and I feel foolish. I think it happens because in a childish sort of way I reflect that I also don’t look like a professional football player, so why am I not a professional football player? I was never good at football, but I did all the shouting and pointing and could probably look quite convincing to somebody who had never seen a football match before (or possibly any sport at all).
This got me thinking the other day about how many goals I’d score if – say for a breach of FFP or something – a top level side were legally obliged to play me in every single game of the season as a handicap. I’m really very bad at football and deeply unfit so I’d probably just try and hang around near the goal and hope not to be offside every now and then. I reckoned I could maybe score two across a whole season. A friend of mine said that I was grossly overestimating my talents but my point was that I reckoned Kevin De Bruyne or someone would surely eventually smash one in off my shins or something, and with the sheer amount of gametime I’d be getting and with the sheer body-mass I can boast I’d surely be good for a couple of accidental deflections. I thought this would be a fun game but I’ve just typed all this and realised I’m basically just describing Ali Dia’s career plan, aren’t I.
Have a good weekend,
Ian (hi Gwil), Cambridge
I liked Stu, Southampton’s idea for a game. My irrational hatred is one that has confused myself and my brother (hello!) for years; Aston Villa.
I have no real idea as to why. It started circa 2008-2010 (around the time of Martin O’Neill’s time of leaving, but I do remember not liking him while there) and was treated with great satisfaction in seeing them relegated last year.
They were the first Premier League team I ever saw live (u10’s football trip to see them play Robbie Keane’s Coventry) and have had some likeable players, managers and performances since that time. I never supported them but also then never hated them.
Then it began. I just didn’t like them and would wish ill (in footballing terms) against them. Hated them and wanted them to be relegated. Then they kept being just shit enough to avoid it, which just stoked the irrational hatred fires ever more. Coupled with tosspot after tosspot in the dugout, I was nothing but loathe towards them.
Now they’re relegated and they are just on the wrong side of indifferent.
C’est la vie.
In response to Stu, Southampton…
I’ve always hated Real Madrid legend, and by all accounts nice guy, Raul. He used to drive me mental, and I really can’t put my finger on why. I honestly can’t think of anything negative to say against him, he seems like a nice guy and was a quality player to boot. With that being said, I properly hate him, he’d be up front with Robbie Fowler (Liverpool, Leeds, City – not so irrational that one) in my most hated 11 (Keown as captain), but I can’t figure out why.
Maybe it’s like the kid at school, who was friendly, funny, smart, handsome and good at football that people (well, bitter uggo’s like me) hate?
Jack (Mkhi, Mata, Martial, Ibrahimovich… easy this management lark) Manchester
Good mailbox game from Stu, Southampton. My irrational dislike is a lingo inconsistency. Commentators say “he’s on a hat trick” when a player has two goals and might soon get a third, but say “he’s on a yellow” when a player has a yellow and might soon get a red. It should be either “he’s on a hat trick” and “he’s on a red,” or “he’s on two goals” and “he’s on a yellow.”
Oh, also that we say “in the middle of the park,” but never “on the left of the park,” “in the front of the park,” or anywhere else in the park for that matter.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
On the subject of irrational dislikes, I’ve disliked Jordan Rhodes for a good number of years for getting a red for a two footed lunge on a Gillingham player.
I recently found out that the foul was committed by Nathan Eccleston but I figured if I stop now I’ll look foolish.
James Vortkamp-Tong, GFC, Brighton