THE FA Cup is great, isn’t it? Dead romantic. “The Romance of the Cup” is accepted as standard and is lashed about all over the place. By journalists, by commentators and by the boring arse in everyone’s work who doesn’t really follow footie but heard Jeremy Vine say it on Radio Two.
It’s the world’s best cup competition, apparently, where teams called Bin Bag United and something mad like Flannelsbury Town get a chance to be giantkillers for a day.
Post men, bin men, brickies and mechanics (you can’t play semi-pro if you aren’t one of these by the way, don’t ask me why — I don’t make the rules) get to pit their wits against some of the best players in the world.
For the general public and everyone involved with shite footie teams or no-mark towns — the type you see plastered all over England flags ‘on tour’ — it would be romantic if your team is dreadful and you get to go to Anfield or Old Trafford. But for us, or Manchester United, it is anything but.
Get drawn against a team of dogs away and at the time of the draw you are happy: “Piece of piss, that…could have been far worse, that.”
Then, as the game looms, that feeling morphs into a nervous horrible wait. You end up praying the Reds don’t get embarrassed and do enough to get through.
Get drawn at home against 95 per cent of the teams in the hat and it’s a pain in the arse as well. Auto-cup scheme, mad seating arrangements and watching the Reds while thinking they should be doing better no matter what the score is.
There is no romance in any of it for us — there is only failure or boring victory and anyone who tells you any different needs jibbing.
I’d go so far as to say I’d quite like to have a deal whereby if we aren’t going to win it, we get knocked out in the third round every year. Can we have that?
Friday night’s match is a case in point.
Ask Kloppo as to what his romance game is and I’m fairly sure he’d rather be having a three-courser in Formby with Mrs Klopp and a bit of a lovely smooch as opposed to driving for something like 1,600 miles on a coach to the middle of France with a gang of kids pissing about on Snapchat and playing Rudimental through their phones.
The kids are bad enough, but also interrupting his fantasies about Mrs Klopp (who he hasn’t seen since Germany as we have played 87 matches since he joined) are the unerring stares from the weirdos sat to the side of him (the silent Belgian and the Bog) and the lycra-wearing Jose Enrique who has been trying to wrestle the driver since Keele services.
Talking of the Bog, I don’t know what the Hungarians do to ginger people but judging by the look on his face throughout the game and those deep empty eyes, horrific acts must be happening over there.
My guess is that they are sent to the woods by men dressed as Dickensian rent collectors and made to dodge cannonballs disguised as footies fired at them from the darkness and are only let out when they can show that they haven’t come close to a cannon footie for a year.
The training has obviously stayed with him. Well in the Hungarian woodsmen, aye?
That is the only possible explanation for the Exeter manager’s rig out. He must have heard about the Bog’s traumas and spent the day before the game at the Devon outlet village Ted Baker basing his clobber on the said Dickensians to try to garner some form of advantage.
Nothing else could explain that hat, mates.
The game itself was a bit of a waste of time all told. The young Reds might all be decent players but I’m not sure many of them will still be playing for us in three or four years.
We had a lad with two first names playing centre mid. I spent the game being quietly impressed with him but that was because I thought he was 17. He’s 22 for Christ’s sake and I have never heard his name spoken before.
Loads of other little lads ran round and tried their best without really impressing and the only first teamer on show, the silent Belgian, managed to flit about upfront and look like a massive outside bet in the big game of guess who cost 32 million nicker.
Tiago Ilori, faster than Bolty apparently, who no-one has ever seen before, took up some good defensive positions. Given the fact he was playing next to the wrestling Geordie Shore-head, it can probably be classed as one of the great centre-half performances.
The bit where he got caught about as far under the ball as is possible without falling over was a worry, mind.
He wasn’t as good as the Twitter experts would tell you but he doesn’t look as bad as you would expect seeing as he couldn’t get a game for Villa this season.
Maybe he might be an alright player who has got loads of really good attributes and who we bought hoping he would develop physically a bit more and he is just going to be OK. You’d take that and maybe we all should.
The oddity of this performance, given that the players probably didn’t know half of their team mates, was that the shape of the team appeared (on the telly) to be quite good.
I’m not sure who is responsible for this given the limited time the manager had with some of the players but as a unit they looked really well drilled.
Someone should be congratulated for this, so I’m going to congratulate Kloppo.
It’s interesting that he wants to keep the closest lads to the first team at the club rather than sending them on loan. Maybe he fancies himself to improve them more by interacting with them on a daily basis rather than sending them out to somewhere where they love a good header, a pie and an early dart and where we have no control over what they are being taught.
There is a balance here that must be sought given the weakness of the Under-21 league but I’d back Kloppo to know what he is doing more than me or you so, you know, crack on, Kloppo.
It was also interesting that a completely different team could also suffer from the same limitations we have been experiencing when we have to try to break down a defensive opposition.
Loads of the ball, a good shape, but a lack of individual threat led to frustration and a lack of ideas.
Combine this with a few horrific defensive mistakes and it’s life imitating art (or life, or something).
Inject some absolute star quality into this and we probably win the game easily. Someone who does something out of nothing. The best teams have these types of attacking players. Our only one is injured and might well be for the rest of his life. Let’s get some more, eh?
That said, Sheyi Ojo (above) looked alright.
I’ve never seen him before but he seems like he has got something about him. Something in how he holds himself and his arrogance.
He backs himself and this came across to the extent that he was my pick in the mystery 32 million nicker game.
Is right, lad, come off the bench and bang the winner against the Mancs and we will all have a lovely disco.
I can’t really remember how the game ended except that it ended and we have now got to play again. No-one can really be arsed with that.
The only thing to look forward to now is their manager turning up at the ground dressed as a Death Eater with the national press in tow, boring the shite out of everyone about giant-killing and romantic football.
There is no romance in the cup for us — just embarrassing death, or eventual glory. We should choose glory every time. Up the Reds.