Is the magic of the F.A. Cup still alive and well?
This weekend finally sees the introduction of F.A. Cup football emerge within the English game once again, for all those Premier League sides hoping to make a strong name for themselves come the final culmination of the domestic season.
In an era largely defined by how much money can be made available off the pitch among several competing top-flight outfits with a whole host of differing agendas, hopes and collective expectations, it seems as if the trophy once thought of as the most illustrious club competition in world football, has all of a sudden come under threat these days within new generations of growing football fans.
So then, does this cup tournament simply represent a bygone phenomenon that no longer holds the same kind of prestige it had many moons ago, or is the magic of the F.A. Cup still alive and well in the modern era?
Well, even though Arsene Wenger’s current Gunners outfit do in-fact seem to be taking the domestic competition very seriously in recent seasons, the same ultimately can’t be said of most of their high ranking Premier League opposition.
Several well-known outfits within the English top-flight have famously failed to field their best starting XI's within the opening rounds in the past, subsequently losing their place among the tournament to so-called 'inferior' teams. Although many would define such upsets as the very definition of the aforementioned ‘magic’ behind the competition, the fact that many Premier League sides initially fail to prioritize the F.A Cup year in year out, does indeed seem somewhat disappointing in the cold light of day.
If the majority of Premier League teams aren’t willing to take the tournament seriously from the get go, then surely any ultimate victory must feel partially hollow as a result of such a notion? Although the Emirates faithful likely wouldn’t care less about whether or not their closest rivals feel the same way about the competition as they do, the previous two finals arguably fell short of delivering the feeling of grandeur the F.A. Cup once held in abundance.
We’ve already seen what’s become of the League Cup in recent seasons due to Premier League sides opting not to take that particular venture with the utmost priority – and with the English domestic league becoming more and more financially beneficial with every passing season – perhaps it’s only a matter of time before the F.A. Cup goes in the same direction.
Many fans would rather see their side qualify for the Champions League then win the once untouchable club competition, some supporters admittedly view the F.A. Cup as an unwanted distraction from the general league proceedings that have been promoted more and more with each year – and although an end of season trip to Wembley remains a very hard prospect for any genuine football fan to justifiably turn down – the European game arguably offers a great deal more excitement and entertainment on the whole.
Yes, there will always be those who will defiantly back the historic tournament all throughout their lives with the same vigour and passion the F.A. Cup arguably deserves – but with big-name corporate sponsors now being included within the title of the competition itself, and Wembley also playing host to the semi-finals as well nowadays – a certain sense of magic has in-fact been lifted from the journey, and there is simply no getting away from that.
We would nevertheless all miss the F.A. Cup if it was suddenly removed from the English footballing schedule next season of course, that remains a definite. Watching non-league under-dogs come up against Premier League giants provides a kind of feeling that just can’t be easily replicated elsewhere – especially among the Champions League group-stages, which often feel monotonous and tiresome when all is said and done.
In the end however, money simply does all the talking nowadays – and although the F.A. Cup still maintains a sense of drama no other sporting venture can really produce – European football has ultimately become more profitable, and therefore far more intensified, with all things fairly taken into account.
…it is nonetheless somewhat refreshing to see that not every Premier League manager is willing to give up on the F.A. Cup just yet…
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) January 9, 2016
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