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Fantasies Achieved

By | January 8th 2010

By Tony Ngare

It’s the world’s oldest football knockout competition. It respects no man or deity as Manchester United painfully learnt. It’s the FA Cup! Were it not named as the Football Association Cup, it could aptly be named Fantasies Achieved Cup!

Forget Leeds’ past - they may be a League One club, but this did not stop them from dumping Man United out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford. It’s one of the great upsets in this competition’s magnificent history.

LEADING LEEDS: The scoreboard displays the unfamiliar score line at Old Trafford.

It might be worth pointing out that Leeds had not won at Old Trafford since 1981.That is a cool 29 years ago. I suspect majority of the Man United loudmouths were then crawling around in diapers! Wait a minute were there diapers then? Am not sure. Probably they were just crawling butt-naked!

The FA Cup has a way of making history and the pattern continues. Sir Alex Ferguson has never lost in the third round of the FA Cup since taking charge of Manchester United in November 1986. That is 22 matches without losing, as United didn’t take part in 2000. United withdrew from the Cup due to their participation in the Club World Championship in Brazil. Many critics slammed the decision, claiming that it did more than anything else to devalue the game’s oldest cup competition. So is the Cup’s history back to haunt Fergie?

It was also the first time Manchester United have been eliminated in the third round since Bournemouth - then managed by Harry Redknapp – embarrassed them in 1984.

The history aside, the Red Devils loss highlighted what many have long suspected-United are not the team they have been in the last few years. Surely, Fergie with all his experience in football management ought to come up with a better excuse of his team’s failure to beat Leeds than accuse the referee ‘for playing a mere five minutes of stoppage time’. But at 69 years of age, who knows…may be senility is suggestively flirting with the old geezer!

Arsenal against West ham seemed keen to follow the same script as their ‘friends’ at Old Trafford. However, the Gunners turned the tide to welcome the new decade with better fortunes. With just a couple of minutes left, West Ham players and fans alike were contemplating the same fate as United befalling the Gunners. However a quick fire response from the Gunners ensured that Arsene Wenger did not suffer the same embarrassment as his nemesis.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has also never suffered a third round defeat - the Frenchman’s enjoyed 14 safe passages after seeing off Giofranco Zola men in the tight tussle.

Though Wenger would have you believe that he wishes he did not win the match, nothing can be further from the truth. He simply said so to have a go at the old geezer at Old Trafford. If he envies Fergie why then did he frantically throw his experienced men to turn the tide? He is a cheeky one Wenger, not only with his money but with his words as well.

Chelsea walloped Watford mercilessly to advance. As early as the fifth minute, Chelsea had started off the goal deluge that saw them whack poor Watford five to nothing. In doing so the Blues booked a tie with Preston, another side that humiliated Colchester with a ‘seven baller’. If football were science you would expect a cracker between these two high scoring teams but its hard to see Preston come out of this tie alive.

As a colleague in the office says by scoring too many goals Chelsea run the risk of running dry when a 1-0 would have been enough. It’s like having 20 tree seedlings and you pour all your water on one. What happens to the rest of the seedlings?

Liverpool…my goodness. For the Anfield outfit, this season must feel like living in a ghost-riddled mansion. The Reds had majestically walked onto the pitch at the Madejski Stadium hoping to squash the fly that Reading are believed to be. However, the Reds were quickly stung and stunned by Reading. However, Steven Gerrard…(who else?) came to the aid and helped to secure a replay at Anfield. Surely, this is one competition that the strategy men at Anfield must not let slip through their fingers if they are to salvage anything out of the current season.

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