Why do minnows turn into Messi on FA Cup weekend?

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Well done Pep
I didn’t see it mentioned in the last mailbox, but Pep deserves enormous credit for the respect he gave the FA Cup starting players like Edersen and Silva and to a lesser extent Sane and Stones. As a Liverpool fan somewhat disappointed with our approach to the domestic cups, I just wanted to pay another team a compliment in the hope of adding something positive to the increasingly “everybody who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot” tone the mailbox has had in recent weeks. And a big credit to Newport for showing up to play as positive as they could against one of the world’s elite teams. A really nice advertisement for English football that showed this big six fan that football outside the world’s greatest, bestest, toughest league isn’t as big a step down as the marketing gurus would like to suggest.
Niall, Denver


Why do minnows channel Messi?
I love the FA Cup but there’s an element to it that’s always driven me bonkers and it doesn’t happen in isolation. Far from it. It’s when you have lower league teams playing those in higher leagues especially Prem sides. The giant v minnows thing that the media love to home in on.

It seems to me that every year, the minnows are not just that (‘minnows’) but also struggling desperately in whatever league they occupy. Haven’t won in *X* amount of games, hovering above relegation zone etc. Come the big day though and the minnows play out of their skins. Grimshaw United suddenly look like Barcelona or Real Madrid.

I get that it’s a huge day. I get that the cameras are there. I get that the minnow’s town or City are buzzing with anticipation and the smaller team is swamped with TV crews for two weeks beforehand and all of that is fine. But, when they’re from the Champ or Leagues 1 & 2, we’re talking about men being paid to play football It’s their job. It’s what they do for a living. How is it you suddenly channel your inner Ronaldo or Messi for this one game then go back to playing sh*te the following Saturday?

I understand that it’s precisely because it’s an unusual occasion, a once-in-a-decade event that gets the players so up for it. I do. But if you’ve demonstrated a clear ability, both from the team and back room staff to hold say, Spurs or Chelsea or Liverpool for 80-odd minutes, then surely you can get your arse in gear for Fulchester Rovers the following week? I don’t expect the same OTT attack everything, press like a lunatic and run-till-I-pass-out mentality, but surely 40% or 30% of that is not an unreasonable expectation of professional footballers when your game WON’T feature on MOTD?

If, dear reader, you are in a job you want to do, as opposed to one you must, surely you have the pride and self-motivation to (at least) try and do the best you can every day and not just when the Top Brass turn up?
Mark (And when your job is going to ‘work’ for five hours a day and playing football) MCFC


Palace thoughts
It was amusing to see journalists such as Neil Custis and Paul Hayward complaining about this weekend of the FA Cup being a bit like an international break, presumably because they didn’t find it especially interesting. They were right – you don’t get seven wins for higher-ranked teams in a round of Premier League fixtures. Presumably Custis, who is seemingly never happier than contributing to managerial controversies at Manchester clubs, found the mutual respect between the various clubs hard to swallow as well.

* Doncaster Rovers versus Crystal Palace is not a game that will live long in the memory, but for now, it should be remembered as a well-contested game played in the right spirit, and decided by the players and not the officials.

* Palace made six changes to the team that drew with West Ham last weekend, as Roy Hodgson picked his FA Cup lineup, though the only player notably being rested was Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Joel Ward replaced him again, with Scott Dann and Martin Kelly also joining the defence. Michy Batshuayi made his first start for the Eagles as they lined up in a 4-3-3.

* The teams settled into the pattern of play fairly quickly. Rovers set about pressing the Palace defence and goalkeeper, correctly identifying them as the weak links. They forced at least two corners from defenders making stray passes back to Wayne Hennessey. Palace, on the other hand kept their composure, sat deep and were prepared to let their opponents do all the running until they began to tire themselves out.

* When he first joined Palace, I described Luka Milivojevic as the best player people hadn’t heard of. We’ve all heard of him now, so that’s moot, but he showed that he is an excellent midfielder. His positioning and leadership on the field were superb, and it was his interception that led to the first goal. A quick one-two with Patrick van Aanholt allowed Jeffrey Schlupp to break into space; Milivojevic found him and Schlupp took on the entire Doncaster team, finishing with a slight deflection to take the ball away from the goalkeeper.

This gave the Eagles a degree of comfort, although Rovers did keep coming at them, helped by Palace’s preferred tactic of having Hennessey punt it long towards Batshuayi, who didn’t win a single header.

* The second goal was well-worked, as Milivojevic chipped a pass to Andros Townsend, who headed across goal to allow Max Meyer to nod home at the back post. I liked this, it showed a degree of patience to unlock the defence and a maturity to not overwork half-chances.

* I still don’t think Palace are in the FA Cup to win it, and that in the next round, if we draw a Premier League club, we will put out an even more changed side than we did against Rovers. Of more pressing concern is Leicester City away on Saturday, a game between two sides who sometimes show up. All the best to Rovers for the rest of the season.
Ed Quoththeraven


Man United full of deadwood
I had to allow myself a little chuckle at the people trying to criticise Ole for not being able to change the game against PSG. You’re missing one key point, United’s squad is full of dead wood.

PSG simply have the better players. Losing Martial and Lingard, who was going to come on and change the game? No-one, certainly not Sanchez.

It’s not a surprise, United fans like me have known for years we have bought badly. I would lose Jones, Smalling, Valencia, Young, Fred, Lukaku, Rojo (autocorrect just changed that to ‘so no’), McTominay, Sanchez and even Shaw tomorrow. Unfortunately it’s going to take at least two years to hopefully put that right. Oh, and a serious wedge of cash.

Strap in people, this is far from sorted.
Paul, Man Utd


Spurs: Not over til it’s over
Regarding Andrew Dublin mail…it ain’t over. No one said it’s over and certainly no Spurs fans of which I’m one. We’re far from through to the quarters and no Spurs fan I know believes otherwise. Let me guess your a Man U/Arsenal fan. Ps plenty of Irish Spurs which you wouldn’t know from the mail box and we’re fu*kin loving it.
Mike Dublin Spurs


…In response to Andrew W’s mail about throwing the towel in- there is not a single spurs fan in the known universe who is already looking at the quarter finals – we’ve danced this dance too many times before


Same difference
I noticed some likeness between opposite clubs among the top six in the Premier League.

City and Spurs: Obviously both clubs at the extreme different ends in transfer spend. City playing dazzling slow build-up to score. Spurs this season have adopted a more direct approach to goal. What is similar for these two is that both clubs are probably the most stable and well run. Pep and Poch are two of the most comfortable of the top six managers. Both sets of fans are similar as their respective clubs are less compared historically to their direct rivals but mostly happier with current happening at their clubs. also with modest expectations. City will likely end up with at least one or two trophies out of four by the end of the season. Spurs fans would be glad to finish third.

Chelsea and Arsenal: Extreme rivals since days of Mou vs Wenger. and also both different in their transfer market approach. But now both clubs are similar in that Chelsea has fallen behind City and Arsenal behind Spurs. Both clubs have a new manager with philosophy/identity yet to take root. Both clubs have misused their best midfielders. Sarri with Kante. Emery with Ozil. Both clubs have no Champions League football this season. Both clubs will be glad to finish fourth. Only one or perhaps both may finish outside top four. Both sets of fans are divided on their manager.

United and Liverpool: More differences here than similarities. Historical rivals. Liverpool at the moment are stable and confident with Klopp. United have much overhaul to do and still undecided on Ole. United with lots of drama and superstars Pogba, Martial, Rashford, Sanchez. Liverpool are more modest with little or no drama. Salah, Mane, Robertson, Henderson, Van Dijk. Each with its own own advantage. The similarities would be both sets of fans are probably the most vocal. I think there is more expectations/pressure on these two clubs than the rest of the top six. Expectation is on United to always win given their past trophies, history and financial strength. Expectation is now on Liverpool to win with how close they’ve been at a few finals recently and again how close they are this season.
Micheal S


Nothing racist about loving a smiler
In reply to Andy Cawley and his complaint with F365’s coverage of Son. I offer up one Santi Cazorla as another example of someone F365 loved for his smiley face and his ever-positive attitude.

I’ve never even heard of this supposed stereotype of Asians being particularly smiley, or heard anyone denigrate Son or his performances. He is a great footballer and he happens to mostly smile. What’s not to like (aside from the shirt he wears)?

As you were.
Alay (Arsenal are a mess right now), N15 Gooner


…In response to Andy Cawley – I’ve lived in Korea for almost 10 years. I’m also a Spurs fan. I have also loved Son Heung Min since day one because he’s pure class and the most direct player we’ve had since I can remember (something we were crying out for at the time).

I have also told my Korean friends that one of the many reasons I love watching him play is that he does it with a smile on his face. He seems to love playing the game as much as I did when I was 10; literally nothing to do with his race or nationality. Sure Salah plays with a smile too, which I’ve also pointed put to friends, but it is incomparable to Son when he scores.

It’s not racist to point out facts. Chill out. Save your ire for actual racism – which, you know, there’s loads of…everywhere.
Mike McGrath

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