Written by Ian Hope @halftimepiesite
Welcome to our weekly round up of the main talking points in football in the last seven days.
FA Cup replays For or Against?
A lot of Premier League managers have come out recently wanting an end to replays in the FA Cup to avoid fixture congestion. Even Karl Robinson of League One side Oxford United has called an end to replays after his side racked up 39 games including 13 cup matches by the end of January. Currently Oxford are on their way to playing 60 games this season with a squad of 20 players.
The main opponents of cup replays has come in the form of Premier League managers specifically Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho & Steve Bruce but several Championship managers has voiced their displeasure at replays preferring cup games being settled on the day thus avoiding fixture congestion. This view appears to divide opinion and fly in the face of supporters wishes who may lose out on the chance of a visit to a Premier League ground like Shrewsbury Town now have at Anfield.
Personally the issue is not just about the FA Cup and more with too many cup competitions in English football. People moan that the FA Cup has lost its magic and appeal especially since the Champions League was expanded so my thoughts are this.
We should copy other European leagues and only have 1 domestic cup competition, the FA Cup. There is too much football played these days and not just in the Premier League. The other leagues play more games than the 38 game Premier League and have to participate in the Football League Trophy as well as the League Cup (Carabao Cup).
To rejuvenate the FA Cup, the League (EFL) Cup should be scrapped like other European Leagues, thus having one domestic cup competition that being the FA Cup. That would reduce some fixture congestion especially in January when the two legged semi finals of the League Cup are sandwiched in between the 3rd & 4th rounds of the FA Cup not to mention midweek league games which all come after a busy Christmas period. The League Cup does not attract large crowds and the competition only becomes interesting at the semi final stage.
The winners of the FA Cup should be awarded a Champions League spot rather than 4th placed team in the Premier League. That way teams would take the FA Cup more seriously.
If teams were playing less football by streamlining the competitions then replays would not be an issue. Lets not forget that replays are scrapped come the 5th round of the FA Cup. So lower league sides would still have the opportunity of a dream tie against a Premier League side continuing the romance of the cup which everyone agrees is being lost. This should not all be about clubs at the top of the football pyramid. Ask Shrewsbury’s players and supporters would they have wanted to finish their tie with Liverpool on Sunday or be given the opportunity to play and visit Anfield in a replay. I have work colleagues who support League One side Rochdale. In recent years those supporters have had the opportunity to visit Wembley to see their side in a replay against Tottenham and St James Park against Newcastle United. Had replays been scrapped, those fans would never have had that opportunity.
For me rather than scrapping replays, we should scrap the League Cup and make the prize for winning the FA Cup greater.
Some United fans need to give their head a good wobble
On Tuesday evening, a video was widely shared online of a group of masked people throwing red flares into the grounds of Ed Woodward’s home along with spraying red paint outside. It was similar to the scenes a few years back when masked United supporters turned up outside Wayne Rooney’s home demanded to speak to him after he put a transfer request in and appeared to want to join Manchester City.
Whilst a lot has been said about the anti Glazer-Woodward chanting, I feel the press have made a meal of that. Chanting is just that. It hasn’t been accompanied by demonstrations, fighting or anything else it is just fans chanting about the board. Yes singing about putting the Glazers on a bonfire with Ed Woodward may sound unpleasant but it really shouldn’t be made out at something shocking. It singing at the end of the day.
However, what happened on Tuesday evening is beyond fan frustration. We are talking about football here. Yes it is a passionate sport but for goodness sake what were those actions hoping to achieve. In fact it has allowed a ground swell of sympathy for Woodward which is counter productive to what those people wanted. Whilst Woodward appears to be out of his depth with the football side of things at Old Trafford, he still has a family and a right to family life. Who knows what those idiots thought they would achieve but fair to say it has probably backfired massively. Give your heads a wobble.