Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How the Cup Can Regain Its Magic

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How the Cup Can Regain Its Magic

Article excerpt


ARE you up for the Cup? Will you be glued to the box tomorrow? Speaking for myself, I can hardly contain my indifference.

Ah, I hear you say, that's because you're Chelsea. Not so.

I used to watch every Final avidly. But those were the days when it was about the only live game on television, and all attention focused on it. Now for many fans it's just another mat ch, and this year a bit of an anticlimax after the frenetic end to the Premiership last Sunday.

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira have been trying to busk a bit of interest.

"It's going to be explosive," declared Keano unconvincingly after the pair had traded insults about the strength of each other's patriotism. Come off it, Roy. The only way you'll cover every blade of grass for 90 minutes is in a bath chair.

The antics of these two charmers reminds me of a couple of old tarts soliciting outside a pub on a wet Friday

night. No one's very interested in what they've got to offer.

If the FA Cup is a bit of a letdown these days, the Football Association have only themselves to blame, because they won't do the one thing that could rekindle interest - offer a Champions League place to the winner.

And even that only works if both finalists h a v e n ' t already qualified. In the old days, the glory of winning the Cup was e n o u g h , because the League didn't have the dominance it does today.

And the winners got into the old Cup-Winners' Cup w h i c h , although infer ior to the European Cup, was manifestly better than the dog's breakfast the UEFA Cup

has become.

Offering the fourth Champions League spot to the Cup winners, if they have not otherwise qualified, is surely far better than letting the fourth-placed Premiership club get it.

In Everton's case this is a joke, given the distance they finished behind Chelsea.

* WHAT will Manchester United fans do tomorrow to make their point about the Glazers? Plenty of fans have been mouthing off, but when it comes to mounting an effective campaign, I fear they won't be coordinated enough.

And I don't mean anything illegal along the lines proposed by the shadowy Manchester Education Committee. I mean the kind of vocal protests in the stadium, and lawful picketing of the offices, that would make it impossible for the Glazers to run the club.

Why should we all care?

Because anything that undermines a top English club diminishes us all.

Child's play plan is poor SPORT ENGLAND announced an initiative yesterday whereby stars such as Steve Redgrave, Michael Vaughan and Denise Lewis will go into 400 schools to encourage children to participate in sport.

I'm unimpressed. Of course, Sport England are right to do something, and anything's better than nothing, but this is the sort of proposal that when I was in Whitehall we used to call an Easter Egg - very pretty on the outside, but completely hollow in the middle.

How often will our stars go to each school? Once to do a prize day or the like. Better than nothing, but long-term benefit?

Not much.

The tragedy is National Lottery funds were to be used to give every child a sporting chance by testing each of them for sporting aptitude. And Vaughan will know how useful that could have been to cricket, where recent estimates suggest only 15 per cent of English schoolboys get a chance to play the game.

The Lottery till was raided by the Government, and now all we're left with is this Sport England initiative. Just a cup of tea and a bun when a five-course banquet was promised.

Don't give Drogba an easy way out ALL the qualities of a dog except loyalty was a famous American political jibe suitable to be applied to some footballers. And maybe the next candidate for this accolade is Didier Drogba.

He's been whining to L'Equipe about being homesick. …

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