Archive for the ‘FA Cup’ tag
Wigan’s FA Cup giant-killing glory ultimate fairytale for David Whelan and vindication for sticking by Roberto Martinez
Never has there been a bigger upset in the FA Cup than Wigan’s last minute goal from substitute Ben Watson to win the world’s most famous domestic knockout trophy – and what a fairytale for much loved chairman David Whelan to see his minnows leave the planet’s richest club Manchester City trophy-less.
It was wonderful to see Whelan, who broke his leg playing in the 1960 FA Cup final defeat for Blackburn against Wolves, lead the team out at Wembley. And the Latics supremo could not have dreamed up a more romantic storyline than the Roy of the Rovers winner from Watson, six months after being ruled out for over half the season with a fractured shin.
Whelan has stood by his manager Roberto Martinez with the loyalty and pride of a father figure, despite season after season fighting relegation. There is no better manager-chairman relationship in British football – and it was pure theatre the way Martinez made the decisive substitution when he sent on Watson for his moment of destiny.
It was the stuff of legends the way Wigan defied all the odds and outplayed their mega-rich neighbours with a brand of swashbuckling football that is typical of their hugely talented manager Martinez. When Watson rose magnificently to head home Shaun Maloney’s corner that flattened 10-man City, minutes after Pablo Zabaleta has been sent off, it was no more than the Latics deserved.
City boasts of future domination looked lame as Roberto Mancini lost the tactical battle and failed to inspire his team
Beaten boss Roberto Mancini may have been given a bottomless budget to buy success since taking over from Mark Hughes in December 2009. But his team were again a pale shadow of the side that got lucky last May when they stole the Premier League title off Manchester United with the last kick of the season from Sergio Aguero.
For all his resources and his club’s boasts about future domination, City have under-achieved during his reign. It is ironic that a week in which the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement – prompting premature predictions from the Etihad that a shift in the balance of power in Manchester is on its way – that the Blues have blown their chance to make a statement on the pitch.
Yaya Toure made the mistake of taking victory against Wigan for granted and talking about a power shift when he highlighted the prospect of City benefitting from Ferguson calling it a day in the dugout. “He has built everything at United and the balance I hope will go to the City side now,” said the Ivory Coast midfielder.
Instead of celebrating their third trophy in three seasons, the talk now is whether or not Mancini will be allowed to carry on as manager, despite being rewarded with a new five year contract last summer. Rumours that the City boss will be replaced by Manuel Pellegrini will accelerate despite Mancini insisting such headlines are “rubbish.”
The truth is that while Champions United have restored sanity and promised continuity by giving outstanding British boss David Moyes a six year contract to succeed Ferguson, City are a club with owners who have previously demonstrated they have no patience when they discarded Hughes to bring in Mancini .
How significant is Mancini’s lament when asked about his future that he complained: “Why didn’t my football club do something to stop the rumours.” The uncertainty, whether intended or not, can only have distracted his players in their preparation for the cup final.
Meanwhile, it is the consistency of triumphant chairman Whelan who so richly deserved the glory of completing his “unfinished business in the FA Cup” that has been rewarded. No-one in football will begrudge the 76-year-old owner his finest hour. Huge credit too must go to Martinez, who has returned the loyalty shown by his chairman and battled on with Wigan despite previous offers from bigger clubs including Aston Villa
Not only is it a fairytale conclusion to a dream that began thirty five years ago for Wigan, when the club was in the Northern Premier League. But it is proof, if proof is needed, that a long term plan is more satisfying and rewarding than the populist demands for instant success.The final twist will come over the next seven days as the Latics fight for Premier League survival in their two remaining games, at Arsenal on Tuesday and then at home to Villa.
However the story ends Wigan’s FA Cup heroes have earned a unique place in football folklore.
Two days later . . . Mancini is sacked as United celebrate
13 May 2013 – A year to the day after leading Manchester City to their first League title in 44 years Roberto Mancini is sacked. In contrast, rivals Manchester United spent the evening parading the 13th Premier League title won by Sir Alex Ferguson who retires this week after an unprecedented 26 years in charge at Old Trafford.
Michael Owen a former England striker has announced his retirement from football at the end of the season.
Debuting for Liverpool at only 17 years old, before his famous solo goal for England against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.
Owen, 33, who scored 40 goals in 89 internationals, played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United and is now at Stoke. Including a hattrick against Germany in England’s famous 5-1 victory over their rivals in 2001.
He said: “It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire.
“I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey I could only have dreamed of.”
He has scored 220 goals in his club career, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup (three times) and Uefa Cup. Owen was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001 – the first Englishman to achieve the accolade since Kevin Keegan in 1979.
“Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first-team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career,”
Bradford, Luton, Leeds, Oldham: Year of the Underdog revives memories of golden days for Cup football
For those of us over a certain age, the romance of Cup football back in the twentieth century is hard to beat.
In 1970, I remember watching a televised FA Cup Final in colour for the first time when Chelsea and Leeds fought out an epic 2-2 draw at Wembley. Seven years later I was at the famous twin towers in the flesh as underdogs Manchester United beat all-conquering Liverpool 2-1 . . . 12 months after the Red Devils were humbled 1-0 in the final by minnows Southampton.
For me it was always the epic occasions when David beat Goliath in the earlier rounds that made the FA Cup special.
Who that watched the drama unfold will ever forget Ronnie Radford’s spectacular strike for Hereford that took Newcastle to extra time in 1972, before Ricky George delivered the knockout blow for the minnows? Or Sutton United’s famous 2-1 triumph over Coventry City in 1989, just two years after the Sky Blues lifted the trophy? And what about Wrexham’s famous triumph by the same score over Arsenal in 1992? The list of famous cup upsets is endless – and happily those days are not over.
Events this week, especially Bradford City’s historic semi-final win over Aston Villa in the League Cup, are evidence that the magic of the cup will never die.
With the financial resources of the elite so much greater than it has ever been, smaller clubs in the modern era could easily accept that a fairytale triumph against opposition from the top flight is now an impossible dream. While cynics will argue that winning one of the domestic Cups has been devalued by the big clubs focusing on an obsession with the Premier League and qualification for the Champions League.
But that is so far wide of the mark that it is an insult to the millions who dream of watching their heroes pull off an upset. Do not tell me that Liverpool, Spurs or FA Cup holders Chelsea lacked the desire to reach Wembley as they stumbled against Oldham, Leeds and Brentford this afternoon. Or that Norwich City believed they would perish at the hands of non-league Luton Town on Saturday.
There is certainly no lack of desire at Manchester United where Javier Hernandez talked of his dream of winning the treble after the Reds brushed aside Fulham 4-1.
It is remarkable that the likes of Bradford, Luton, Leeds and Oldham have restored the romance of cup football in one extraordinary week that is just as priceless for the game as a whole as it is for the clubs revelling in the glory of their spectacular giant-killing acts.
What makes football in England and Wales special is the possibility that any club on its day can pull off the impossible dream. And that is why this week’s cup shocks and fairytale triumphs are such a great boost for the game.
Below: Man-of-the-match Matt Smith scores his second as Oldham knock Liverpool out of the FACup with a shock 3-2 win at Boundary Park in round 4.
The English Premier League is best on the planet and football fans are so fickle – just ask Robin Van Persie and Arsene Wenger!
To all those fickle football fans out there who think one bad result or two is the end of the world, just take a look at the way Arsenal have bounced back from that 8-2 demolition by Manchester United.
Led by Robin Van Persie, the most outstanding striker of the season so far, Saturday’s remarkable 5-3 triumph at Chelsea was the Gunners’ eighth win in nine matches. So what do those ridiculous fans who were baying for the head of Arsene Wenger have to say for themselves now?
When Manchester United crashed 6-1 at home to neighbours City it was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Premier League. But does that make Sir Alex Ferguson’s men a bunch of no-hopers overnight? Of course it doesn’t – and that’s the point.
City boss Roberto Mancini won a lot of respect from United fans when he refused to crow about the way his side destroyed the Reds at Old Trafford. And the Italian knows only too well that there is a long way to go to win the toughest League in the world.
The truth is football fans in England are so lucky to have the Premier League – the most exciting and popular domestic competition on the planet. It will be fascinating to see if anyone can stop City’s mega millionaires becoming champions. But you can bet your bottom dollar there will be many more twists and turns before the destination of the silverware is decided in May.
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Forget the politics – it is time for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to join forces and get behind Team GB’s bid for glory at London 2012
Stuart Pearce – the Englishman appointed manager – is absolutely right when he says Britain’s top young stars will all want to take their shot at Olympic Gold.
The Olympics is a unique platform for the world’s finest under 23 players to shine. Remember it was the stage that launched Lionel Messi on the way to becoming the best player on the planet. And Messi was so determined to take part he was happy for Argentinia to take Barcelona to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the argument over whether or not he could play at the Games.
That’s why the likes of Welshman Gareth Bale are expected to ignore pleas by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs not to take part for fear of losing their national status with FIFA.
Let’s face it does anyone really believe that England, Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland will be forced to compete as Great Britain at the FIFA World Cup.
For former Scotland manager Craig Brown to say players who take part will be “selfish” is just pathetic.
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Champions League success for Manchester giants United and City is only the starter before the main course at Old Trafford
The biggest compliment you can pay Manchester City is that they are picking up good habits from their more famous rivals over at United – and Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time winner in the Champions League against Villareal is one of the most precious goals he will score all season.
Instead of settling for the paltry return of two points from their opening three Group matches, City crucially ended the night on four points and with qualification to the knockout stages back in their grasp courtesy of their dramatic 2-1 win. Neither Manchester club was at their best, as United needed second half penalties from Wayne Rooney to see off Otelul Galati in Romania and claim an equally precious 2-0 triumph that puts the Reds in second place behind Benfica in Group C.
For both clubs there is the feeling that tonight was the lull before the storm as the countdown begins to the most intriguing Manchester derby in years. With City holding a two point advantage, the battle between the Premier League’s top two is the most eagerly awaited match of the season so far at a time when the Mancunian rivalry grows more intense with every meeting.
Whatever the outcome, it will tell us a lot about how the season is destined to unfold – and whether or not City have made any progress since being brushed aside 3-2 by United in the pre-season Community Shield at Wembley.
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Gary Neville hits England where it hurts and admits Fabio Capello’s team are no hopers – with or without Wayne Rooney
Since ending has career as the best right back of his generation, Gary Neville has established himself as football’s undisputed No.1 pundit.
There is no-one in the game who talks more sense than the tough talking ex-England and Manchester United hero who was grew up in the famous Class of 92 that produced David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and his younger brother Phil.
He has already been a revelation as Sky Sports’ most dynamic expert analyst, a million light years better than the excitable Scotsman Andy Gray. And he has also made his mark as a columnist.
Writing in this weekend’s Mail on Sunday, Nev the Red put it simply for the fans when he explained why England do not have a prayer of winning Euro 2012 – with or without Wayne Rooney.
“The real issue is that the spine of the team is not good enough,” explains Neville, who won 85 England caps, in his assessment of Fabio Capello’s chances of winning next summer’s tournament.
“When I look at it coldly, a team that has John Terry, Gary Cahill, Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Darren Bent and Rooney in its central positions is nowhere near good enough to take on the major nations such as Spain.
“I’m not having a go at individuals; there are some very good players among those names.
“Rooney aside, there is hardly any pace, very little invention and hardly any rotation of positions. Compare that with the spine of Spain: Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, David Villa and Fernando Llorente.”
England take on Spain in a friendly at Wembley next month with Neville keen to see a number of younger players given a chance.
“Let’s be clear, England are not as good as Spain but you can’t just accept they’re better,” said Neville.
“You have to find a way to stop them, to disrupt the rhythm and to hurt them going forward – because England need to believe that, in a one-off, they can beat Spain.
“The rest of Europe is watching and if Spain do what most people think they will do and destroy us, just like France did in February 1999 at Wembley when they were world champions, then England will go into Euro 2012 thinking they have no chance.
“There are younger players – Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck – who are mobile, talented and not tainted by previous failures.
“Somehow, Capello has to mould those with the more experienced players into a team to compete with Spain because the team that played on Friday would be well beaten. It’s now time for Capello to be brave.”
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For those of us in the UK who can’t afford the luxury of a Sky subscription, news that Sir Alex Ferguson has ended his ban on talking to the BBC has got to be good news.
The boss began his boycott of the broadcaster in 2004 following allegations made against his son, Jason, in a TV documentary. A statement said: “Sir Alex and the BBC have put behind them the difficulties which led to Sir Alex feeling unable to appear on BBC programmes.”
In his attack on the FA Fergie blasted: ‘They treat Man United like s***! United could have up to eight players called up for England duty next week by Fabio Capello and Ferguson is unhappy the organisation do not give his club more respect.
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UPDATE: 20 July 2011 – Is anyone surprised that City’s decision to move the goalposts scuppered the deal which fell through when the Brazilian transfer deadline passed. You can’t blame Corinthians for refusing to be held to ransom after City had announced the deal was agreed. Now Tevez and City are in limbo. Watch this space!
BY JOHN GUBBA
For a club boasting to be the richest in the world, it does appear rather unseemly that Manchester City are using Wednesday’s transfer deadline in Brazil to squeeze every last penny out of the sale of their skipper to his former club Corinthians.
On Sunday, City boss Roberto Mancini announced a deal had been reached for the 27-year-old - City had previously rejected a bid of £39 million – with only personal terms still to be agreed. But 48 hours before the transfer deadline in Brazil, Corinthians revealed City had moved the goalposts and want more money for Tevez, who previously played for the Sao Paulo club from 2004 to 2006.
The truth is that City, accustomed to getting their own way since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008, are finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that that even their mega riches do not guarantee keeping their best player. It is a bitter pill to swallow and the Eastlands club do not like the taste.
Tevez divided Manchester when he made the controversial move from United to City. But you can not fault the Argentine’s commitment on the pitch and he has proved value for money ever since he arrived in England and kept West Ham in the Premier League.
KING CANTONA’S RETURN WILL CROWN TRIBUTE FOR SCHOLES THE GREATEST ENGLISH FOOTBALLER OF 21ST CENTURY
How fitting that Paul Scholes – the outstanding English footballer of his generation – will be honoured by the return of Eric the King to Old Trafford.
Eric Cantona will coach the legendary New York Cosmos who take on Manchester United on Friday 5 August in the testimonial for the incomparable Scholes.
Cantona quit United in 1997 after winning four titles and two domestic doubles in his five seasons at the club.
“I am looking forward to returning to Old Trafford in my new role with New York Cosmos,” said Cantona.
“I wish to congratulate Paul for such an incredible career at Manchester United.”
Scholes, who announced his retirement in the wake of United’s Champions League final defeat by Barcelona, said: “I have spent my whole footballing life at Manchester United, so this will be an emotional farewell.
“I hope the fans enjoy the night, especially seeing the boss and Eric battling it out in front of the dugouts.”