Posted by Paul
Back in January, on the day before the 3rd Round of the FA Cup kicked off, Reading striker Dave Kitson said: "We’re not going to win the competition and I don’t care about it, to be honest. I care about staying in the Premier League, as does everybody at this club."
How depressing that a professional footballer could have no desire to win the oldest cup competition in the world simply because he believed ‘the big four’ were too strong and would perennially monopolise the winner’s podium, that a professional footballer cared only about doggedly avoiding relegation.
Was Kitson right to stop dreaming? Is the romance of the cup truly dead? Certainly not.
Anyone who disputed its drama, its pedigree, its ability to deliver the most astounding giant-killing acts will be very quiet this week.
Those nerve-shredding final minutes at Barnsley, with the home side camped on the edge of their own area as the millionaires of Chelsea mounted wave after wave of desperate attacks, demonstrated that the unpredictable nature of the cup is alive and well.
We even had a "there’s fans on the pitch, they think it’s all over" moment. Marvellous stuff.
Incredibly, the Tykes could get relegated to League One but still be in Europe as the cup winners of England.
The Yorkshire outfit, assembled for a (relatively) meagre £1m, defeated a team who cost their oligarch owner upwards of £100m.
It was wonderful for the neutral to watch but it was far from a one-off over the weekend.
Pompey’s magnficent rearguard action at Old Trafford gave the south-coast club a springboard for an astonishing victory, making it a cup treble for Harry Redknapp against United (old ‘arry also did it with Bournemouth and West Ham).
And then on Sunday, Cardiff out-thought and outplayed Premier League Middlesbrough to book their place at Wembley. Could the Welsh side go on to repeat their 1927 success? Quite possibly. Could they represent England in Europe? Let’s leave that one for Michel Platini and the FA to worry about.
The cup has regained its old lustre.
Good luck to Reading in their quest to avoid relegation but I suspect Kitson and his teammates will be casting an envious eye on Monday’s draw. Three of the four clubs in the hat are from the Championship and the only Premier League side is unfashionable Portsmouth.
Reports and reaction from all the weekend’s games.