Dear reader, I can only apologise in advance for what you are going to have to read today. I am here, most days, to provide you with a lighter look at the game we love. And I am going to fail you today. I’m getting it out there now. This is one of the worst football weekends of all time for anything vaguely amusing. And I blame the FA Cup and people taking it all too seriously. Funny football news? You’ll be lucky.
Take Friday night, for example. Now, Friday night football still feels a bit weird to me but with the FA determined to string every single round of this year’s tournament over four days, we headed to Loftus Road for the opening tie of the 5th round; QPR against Watford. Not exactly one to get the heartbeat racing, is it? And neither was the game.
Javi Gracia is actually doing a half-decent job at Watford, now the owners have decided to trial having a manager in place for more than half-a-season. As nice as it would have been to see Steve McLaren back at Wembley to get through a final 90 minutes there without a brolly, it wasn’t to be. Watford march on until they meet one of the few big sides left in the tournament.
All eyes were on Newport on Saturday night. Would the pitch be too much for Man City to take? Could this be the greatest FA Cup shock since the last one? Would we actually get to see the myth that is Phil Foden?
It turned out the answers were no, no and yes.
Fair play to Newport, they made a much better effort than Chelsea. 25 minutes in and the score was still 0-0 and, if anything, Michael Flynn’s men could have been ahead if Ederson hadn’t performed his own tribute to the late Gordon Banks.
Dean Saunders had said before the game that Newport would be better than City at set-pieces and boy, did we laugh? It turns out he was right.
But, there was a bit of football to be played in between all the long throws, corners and free-kicks and that is what City are just a little bit better at than their League Two counterparts.
Foden scored twice, but Newport kept the score very, very respectable by pulling it back to 2-1 before knocking off early and letting City get two more right at the end. After the game, Pep Guardiola said that Foden is ‘ready to play’. Great! Then do us and English football a favour, eh Pep? Pick the lad once in a while, will you?
Ashley Cole has done a lot in life and won a lot in football. However, despite his record seven FA Cup winners medals, he had never scored in the competition. He put that right as a second-half substitute for Derby against Brighton but ended up a 2-1 loser to the Premier League side.
Wimbledon and Millwall can both have been a little disappointed not to have been on TV, but having watched the highlights the producers inadvertently managed to get that one spot on.
It was a terrible game won by Millwall. It was almost as if dying your beard the club colours wasn’t crazy enough for Wimbledon to win the match.
Sunday promised little more.
Bristol City versus Wolves? Do me a favour. As soon as it was clear that Wolves wanted to win the match by putting out a strong side the game became as dull as everything else that weekend.
I spent the hour between the final whistle at Ashton Gate and the simultaneous kickoffs at Doncaster versus Palace and Swansea versus Brentford wondering if I could get away with not writing this column.
I opted for the game at Doncaster as it is unlikely I’d watch Swansea play Brentford in the Championship so I was not going to fall into the ‘well, it’s the FA Cup so it might be good’ trap.
Doncaster didn’t look at all likely to cause an upset and it has dawned on me that I’d quite like to see Roy Hodgson win the FA Cup. After all, he is the one Englishman who seems to have Peppy G’s number.
Oh, Swansea beat Brentford which is at least some good news for the latest club in crisis.
This weekend won’t be one I remember.
Still, at least all this will make the Chelsea match against United feel like a Champions League final, right?
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