Not The Same Any More

Sunday, 18 May 2003, 0:00
2 mins read

Home > Story Index >A Disappointing End……..

I read an article yesterday morning in one of the tabloids. It hit home to a couple of spots. One, that the first FA Cup Final you remember is when you are either 7 or 8. It’s true for me and on that basis I hope all Cardiff fans are looking forward to their 84th birthday celebrations. Second one, that finals are always won to zero. I believe it made a statement that out of the last 10, 9 of them have been won with the losing side failing to notch a goal.
So on that basis, I suppose we should be thankful that Thierry Henry elected to carry on running instead of falling in the first minute when he had a sure fire penalty and a red card in his hands. But when Pires notched in the 38th minute, that was it, history was telling us that the final was all over. And Arsenal made sure it was going to be that way.
Manchester United are the champions of England this season, I believe Arsenal are the nicer side to watch. That mantle has crossed to them from Old Trafford where they now grind out results more often than turning on the style. But what frustrates me with Arsenal is that they want to be too clever and this I believe is one of the reasons why they lost the Premiership crown.
There is no doubt that Arsenal were the better side yesterday but virtually every neutral at the end would have been willing Southampton to score. There is something frustrating about a side that decides to play into the corner with five minutes to go. That is of course the five minutes and the extra five minutes of stoppage time.
There was a time when FA Cup Final was the day that all football fans loved. Back in the 70s and 80s when it was nearly the only live game on TV during a season. Now we see more games on TV then ever before and this has taken part of the glory of the FA Cup away. Of course, this and weakened sides and teams pulling out hasn’t helped either. The FA Cup is just no longer the same.
And how often have we come to the final without the incentive of a European place at stake? All too often for my liking. Southampton wanted to win but there was no extra incentive for them to do so with the place in Europe already in the bag. This doesn’t help the final cause at all.
It was second best for Arsenal as well with the Premiership and Champions League being their main targets of the season. I wonder if a survey of Premiership bosses would show that they would rather finish 4th in the Premiership than win the FA Cup. One carries Champions League, the other UEFA Cup places. I can almost guarantee the answer.
Both sides disappointed me yesterday. Southampton seemed to lack passion, Arsenal seemed to lack the will to put on one final show for their fans. There will be more entertainment in the play-off finals next weekend because there is simply more at stake and both sides in each game will want to win the game.
It’s sad but it is true, things just aren’t what they used to be. "When I was a lad"

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