Has the shine gone off the FA Cup for Leicester fans as 92% say they would sooner qualify for the Champions League?
I love the FA Cup. The first proper Saturday of the New Year and the big boys have to face potential banana skin games as they join the teams from the lower leagues in the quest for immortality. But is it the holy grail that it used to be? Being of a certain age, my first memory of a Leicester City game was watching them on my parents’ old black & white television as Manchester City beat us 1-0 in 1969. That was the last of our four FA Cup final appearances and we failed to come away with any wins.
It used to hurt, and it hurt even more when the team I personally saw as our then biggest rivals, Coventry City, won it in 1987. Seeing the likes of clubs such as Wimbledon, and more recently Wigan Athletic, walk away with the trophy added to my sense of disappointment at our lack of success in the worlds oldest cup competition.
But what does it really mean to win the trophy now? Yes it is almost certainly a feather in the club’s cap, something to show off in the club museum, and yes it does offer a chance of European football. But the odds of winning it? Its is literally the luck of the draw or a one-in-64 chance in round three. Not great odds, but then what are the chances of qualifying for the Champions League from the Premier League? Technically, one in five. Ok, that would be on a level playing field of all teams being equal, but you get my point.
I mean the chance to win the FA Cup would put us in the history books I agree, and we have a squad strong enough to possibly win it this year, but every year we will have the same opportunity, and if the luck is with you and you get home ties and lower league teams, you could find yourself with a day out at Wembley. But with the money clubs can earn from TV deals increasing significantly next season, the chance to finish top four may not come round again for quite a few years. Everton qualified for the Champions League in 2005 but have not managed to do it again in the following 10 seasons.
This could be the perfect storm season for Leicester. We have the momentum of last season, which we have carried on into this, the demise of Chelsea, the troubles at Liverpool and the inconsistency at both Arsenal and Manchester City. The money that Leicester as a club could earn by appearing in the Champions League, even if it was just for the group stage, and the kudos that appearing in that competition would bring and the players we could then be able to attract could take this club to another level.
And it seems 92% with you agree with me, as that is how many voted in favour of the Champions League qualification over winning the FA Cup on the poll.
With a host of changes, eight in total, made by Ranieri for Sunday’s game, a lot of players had something to prove. I would never bet against my team, but had we lost then one of our biggest rivals for a top-four spot, Tottenham, would not only have an FA Cup run to contend with and possible replays, but the Europa League as well.
But with the draw neither team wanted, the reality of an extra game has raised itself. If we win the replay we face Colchester away in what should be an easier tie, but if we lose it would leave us free to concentrate on the league and with those around us having other distractions, who knows where Leicester may just end up.