Tag Archives: FA Cup

Mr Man City Is The Clubs Best Bit of Business – Agreed

This article started its lifespan as describing what we learnt about Manchester City in the FA Cup last weekend. The answer was not a lot.

Manchester City are a terrifyingly superior side and, don’t defend high up the pitch if it means trying to outpace Raheem Sterling. You won’t do it.

The news that was more shocking came the next day and it was that Vincent Kompany would be leaving the Citizens after 11 years at the Etihad Stadium.

The definition of being in the right place at the right time, Kompany joined the week before the takeover and, has been a major part in the clubs remarkable success over the years. He’s started a charity, he had a (pretty decent) racehorse named after him, Kool Kompany. And became a true fan favourite at the Etihad.

Huge names came and went for transfer fees you couldn’t imagine Man City spending in 2008, but Kompany was there for the long haul. His modest transfer fee was an irrelevance as he made himself an indispensable part of the team, and eventually the obvious choice for the Captain’s armband. His passion for the club and his role there remained immensely obvious throughout his City career, occasionally bubbling over to losing his cool.

However fans were always happy to overlook this, and were often rewarded, no more so than with his last Manchester City goal, his only this season and his only from outside the box.

Kompany is one of the most loyal and passionate players to have been on City’s books. A true Man City legend who I’m sure people will be talking about in decades to come.

All Cup Finals Should Not Be Played at Wembley – Agree?

I was at the National League play-off final yesterday at Wembley Stadium. A great occasion for the fans of course, however, a mere 8,049 were inside the 90,000 capacity ground.

Next week is the FA Trophy final, an average crowd over the years of around 15,000 to 17,000 – similar to that of the National League Playoffs. However, again it will look lost inside the vast Wembley backdrop.

Yesterday seen two northern teams travel down to the Capital, each with an approx four-hour drive there and back. Early starts, late getting home. It’s a long day for the fans, although the flow of beer for many will help.

I was sat next to some rather tipsy Salford fans waiting for the underground, who just wanted to get home – this was 7 o’clock at night in Wembley Central. I didn’t get home myself until 10:30 pm.

Was it worth it for them Salford fans? Without a doubt, yes.

Nevertheless, my gripe with the use of Wembley is this, yes it’s a great day out and something not every fan will experience watching their team at the iconic ground. However, I don’t understand why if two northern teams are in a final, we have a nominated ground in the north – like Old Trafford of the Etihad.

Similar if it’s a northern and southern team, we have a neutral ground in the Midlands like Villa Park.

Leave the League Cup Final, the three EFL play-off finals and the FA Cup ONLY to be played at Wembley. The rest play at neutral grounds, because let’s face it FA Cup semi-finals are not a Wembley showpiece. They take the edge off truly getting to a Wembley final and, it’s double the expense for the travelling fans.

It would be easier for the money spending fans to get to, more fans would be more likely to go with shorter travelling distances and it would pump money into different parts of the country.

Yesterday could have been played at the Etihad. The numbers would have definitely been more and the chance to play at a Premier League stadium would have still been a massive day out.

This all will never happen of course, but in common sense terms, it makes total sense to all.

Ole Should Freshen Up the Team With These 3 Fringe Players After 1 win in 5

Some say the wheels are starting to fall off Ole’s reign following one win in the last five matches. A loss to Wolves in both the FA Cup and the Premier League, a defeat to Barcelona and a crucial defeat to Arsenal has left United in sixth.

Against Barcelona the levels were there for all to see with United not registering a shot on target, it maybe highlighted the work Solskjaer’s got to do in the summer transfer market.

A freshen up of the squad is needed not only today but in general, as a much needed revamp should take place this coming window.

Young and Shaw are both out through suspension which will give two players a chance to shine, and with a few injuries peppered throughout the midfield it can serve as a good chance to maybe blood some youngsters or give the fringe players a chance. especially with the return Barcelona keg to come this week coming.

With that in mind, here are three players that should be given the nod today to get the Red Devils top four target back on track…

Diogo Dalot

WIth Ashley Young being out, the player brought in as a long term replacement for then right back regular Antonio Valencia has his chance to cement his spot.

It was clearly evident not only against Barca but for most of the season that Young needs replacing, and Dalot has impressed every time he has been on the pitch.

Marcos Rojo

Although technically Young is Luke Shaw’s back up, United don’t have natural left back within their first team ranks that can serve as a number two to Shaw.

Rojo has played in that position before, and would be the natural choice for Solskjaer. It seems Rojo may be on his way out of the club in the summer revamp, but he can still do a job for United until the end of the season while Shaw serves his Domestic and European bans.

Andreas Pereira

The Brazilian has enjoyed more match time this season, more so under Ole. One of the talents for the future, Pereira could have his chance to show if United need to invest more in the midfield or not with an impressive display against West Ham United today.

Having spent last season out on loan at Valencia, this year should be served as his break out year at United. Especially if he wants to become more than another player who came through the ranks and couldn’t cut the grade at the top when needed.

Man United Will Look To Avenge FA Cup Defeat Tonight With This Front Three

The Red Devils travel to Molineux tonight in a bid to leapfrog both Arsenal and Spurs into third place.

A win against Wolves will not be easy however, as United remember from their 2-1 FA Cup defeat recently. It was a lacklustre performance from the men in red, and newly appointed permanent boss Solskjaer will be hoping for a much better showing this time around.

Martial picked up a knock in their 2-1 win over Watford, but reports say he has shaken that off. Wolves have the best record this season against the top six sides, with a total of 10 points taken off them, however, they have won only one in the league in the last six outings.

Bringing the world of football straight to your door

A win for Solskjaer’s men tonight would see them climb to third, one point ahead of Arsenal, three in front of a stumbling Spurs side and four between themselves and Chelsea in sixth. This turnaround has been amazing under Ole, and will leave a lot of United fans wondering what if he was in charge earlier.

Tonight is a must win, especially with them leaving the teams around them with a game in-hand.

We take a look at a possible front three for Solskjaer…

LW: Anthony Martial

Even if Martial can give an hour after his knock, the man whose goal secured the three points on Saturday will be looking to conjure some sort of goal scoring run together to impress this ‘new’ boss.

CF: Romelu Lukaku

Before the international break the number nine hit six goals in three matches, and will want to continue his rich vein of form in front of goal.

Playing with more confidence than we have seen in recent times, Lukaku will be hoping that this could be a turning point for him as he looks to get back to his old prolific scoring ways.

Retro Football Cushions

RW: Marcus Rashford

Rashford this season has matured, and more so under Ole. We have seen in recent games Lukaku coming out to the right and this maybe a good way for the two strikers to start interchanging throughout the match.

Rashford in my opinion is undroppable at the moment, and he will want to keep grabbing the goals as he looks to cement his place in the the United first team for many years to come.

TWO EPL Fixtures That Man City Must Win In April To Keep Title Dreams Alive

Man City’s quadruple hopes are still very much alive, and they face a season, if not history defining April. In which, they have Premier League, FA Cup semi-final and a two-legged all English Champions League quarter final to overcome.

It’s been a toe-to-toe battle with Liverpool this season, with both sides edging in front at different times of the campaign. City currently trail Liverpool by two points, but they do have a very important game in-hand over their North West rivals against no other than their Manchester neighbours United.

While Pep will no doubt be in the hunt for all three remaining trophies, however, retaining the Premier League for the first time would be a huge achievement. In order to keep in the hunt and on Liverpool’s tails, City have some tricky and big matches throughout April.

They entertain Spurs home and away in the Champions League fixture in April, with a FA Cup semi-final against Brighton near the start of the month alongside five Premier League matches – including a mouth watering Manchester derby.

However, there are two matches that are a must win for the Citizens in order to strengthen their chances of retaining their title come the end of the season.

Let’s take a look at the two fixtures in question…

Retro Football Cushions

Away v Crystal Palace – 14th April

Always a tricky place to go to and one that could be a potential banana skin for Pep’s City side – We all remember Liverpool under Rodgers!?

Pep will not want a similar story to be the headline come May. Palace on their day can mix it well with the big boys as well as City know, especially after the 3-2 defeat back in December.

A win away at Selhurst Park will make a huge statement in April and one that could go a long way in the title race.

Away v Man Utd – 24th April

It’s a tough call between this match and the Spurs match. However, as this is the game in hand over Liverpool and a Manchester derby – it edges it.

Away at a rejuvenated United side is going to be a tough fixture, but one that City have to win in order to keep either keep the pressure on or keep the distance between them and Liverpool – given the situation at the time.

This game in hand could be the title defining game. It’s going to be a tough test for City, but every game throughout the month are tough tests that Pep and his players have to overcome in order to write their name in the history books once again.

Robbed: Refereeing Decisions Aid Oldham’s Exit Out of The FA Cup

When you support a team who usually exit all cup competitions before the smoke has cleared from Bonfire night, a chance to defy the odds and get into the last 16 of the FA Cup is something to be celebrated.

Oldham managed to beat Fulham in the previous round in a game that involved the use of VAR which gifted the home team a penalty. It was subsequently shown to have been a pointless exercise given that the referee still made a wrong decision by not spotting that Tom Cairney had fallen over without any contact from Missilou. Thankfully, Daniel Iverson saved the spot kick and Latics went on to get the win they deserved.

The use of VAR in the World Cup in Russia gave fans mixed opinions on it, but many agreed that if it would help stop more ‘hand of God’ incidents then the break in play was worth putting up with.

Elsewhere however in the forgotten basement of UK football, Leagues One and Two often have to put up with decisions from the officials that border on the bizarre. The chance then to play in a game which is presided over by the best there is should surely be welcomed. Sadly after the Fulham game, the referee for Doncaster v Oldham also showed that he was unable to make an accurate decision on whether to give a penalty. There was no VAR to provide back up, only the referee’s assistant.

With Oldham on the front foot following captain Peter Clarke‘s equaliser in the 84th minute, a Doncaster corner was headed against the bar and Peter Clarke was once again in the thick of it to try and head the ball clear.

The Doncaster players then decided that he had handled the ball and mobbed the referee who gave a penalty. Following obvious denials from the Oldham players, the referee consulted his linesman (who hadn’t flagged for a handball) and still awarded a penalty. Video evidence after the game showed that Clarke hadn’t touched the ball and he was later yellow carded followed by a red despite not having been previously booked for a foul on the Doncaster keeper. His frustrations were evident in what had been a game of mixed emotions for the 37-year-old.

It is sometimes too easy to blame the officials when a game has been lost by the ineptitude of the team rather than those in charge, but Oldham had a genuine grievance about the decision and were playing well enough to at least get a draw out of the game. It is a situation that is unlikely to change however and we can at least console ourselves in the fact that we reached the fourth round, having played all our FA Cup games away from home this season.

The Next Month Will Determine Playoffs or Bust For Oldham – Agreed?

A season can hinge on the results of a handful of games and it appears that Oldham are approaching a period of fixtures which will shape whether they finish in the playoffs or in mid-table mediocrity in League Two.

Stability is always a key ingredient in the smooth running of a club, which is something that should have been explained to those currently in charge at Boundary Park. So far this season we have had rumours of unpaid players and the threat of a strike, the sacking of yet another manager and poor results against teams that we really should be getting the better of. Add to that the current circus about who is going to be the next manager, and stability is not the first word you would use in describing Oldham Athletic FC.

Of course, there is the little matter of a possible appearance in the 5th round of the FA Cup to consider. Cash strapped Athletic would love to enjoy the same sort of payout that Lincoln City received from the 16/17 season, which no doubt has helped them build the side currently heading League Two.

For Oldham however, whatever happens against Doncaster this weekend needs to be quickly forgotten in order to address the next few fixtures in League Two. Of the teams we face in the next five games, only Bury can boast to be enjoying significantly better form than us (over the last 4 games) and if ever there was a good time to face MK Dons, it is at present given that they are experiencing a ‘blip’ that has seen them drop to 5th place.

We are currently 7 points adrift of 7th place with a game in hand and it would take a collective loss of form of those above us to sneak us into the playoff positions, especially if we are to continue to drop points against the likes of Macclesfield. A run of two or three wins will solve that, and the immediate solution for owner Abdallah Lemsagam is to decide who he wants to steer the ship.  Uncertainty is no good for the fans and players alike and it is of no use whatsoever to current caretaker manager Peter Wild, who probably doesn’t know on a day to day basis what his role might be when he walks into work each morning.

I cannot believe that the players might have abandoned the idea of reaching the playoffs, there is still too much to play for. The fans, on the other hand, don’t see a great deal of determination displayed on a regular enough basis. Despite that, they still turn out in huge numbers to follow the club around the country and will be 100% behind the side if they show a willingness to get us into the playoffs.

“I want Manchester United in the next round as in 1994 they ruined my childhood.” Pete Wild Inner Fan is Doing the Trick At Oldham

Given that Oldham have been in the news this season for all the wrong reasons, waking up this morning to the post Fulham euphoria makes all that bad publicity irrelevant. The Latics are back in the news and it’s for all the right reasons this time.

Frankie Bunn’s sacking after only 6 months certainly wasn’t the lowest point in the club’s history but it did pose the question of who would be prepared to handle the poison chalice, that the Oldham managerial seat has become. As is usual in these circumstances, the assistant manager steps into the breach but as we didn’t have one Peter Wild, youth team caretaker coach is thrust into the limelight facing two games over the holiday period that we really needed to win.

As often happens in these situations, the introduction of a new face spurred the players on and they responded with back to back victories over Port Vale and Notts County. With several managers neck and neck in the betting for the job, it was announced that Wild would remain in charge for the FA Cup tie at Fulham – a game he had bought a ticket for as he intended to travel there as a supporter!

Having an ex-player as a manager often gives them an automatic bonding with the supporters but having a fellow supporter who just happens to work at the club in charge has thrust Wild into a celebrity status that he could not possibly have dreamed of several weeks ago. The video of Wild saluting the fans and embracing the players after the game shows how high he is held in their esteem.

There now exists a very difficult decision as to who will take charge of first team affairs with a number of supporters believing that Wild has done enough to be given the job. However, there are those who wisely pointed out that no manager, popular or not is safe if they lose three games in a row and it would be incredibly cruel to place Wild in the manager’s chair only to hear calls for his exit if the next few games don’t go in our favour.

Appointing managers with very little experience hasn’t worked for us in the past, but I can certainly see a future for Wild down the line. He has done a fantastic job with the Academy players and that is something I’m sure the club is keen for him to continue with. Working alongside a new, experienced manager will give Wild a valuable learning experience.

There has been no indication of how soon the club are looking to appoint the new manager, but those of us who recognised and fully understood his statement about wanting Manchester United in the next round of the FA Cup because they ruined his childhood in 1994, wouldn’t want anybody else but Wild in charge of such a fixture. A team motivated by such passion would be formidable indeed.

Can Oldham Upset Ranieri’s Fulham This Afternoon?

The FA Cup is the greatest football tournament on Earth, no other competition comes remotely close. The history, drama, spectacle and passion of the FA Cup is unsurpassed and despite attempts to portray other tournaments as equal to it, they will always be a poor second.

Whether you’re involved in it as a player or spectator be it in the early qualifying rounds watched by a handful of people or, in the Wembley Final in front of a worldwide audience of millions, the magic of the FA Cup often throws up some classic games and the opportunity for the smaller clubs to cause an upset.

After successfully navigating past Hampton & Richmond and Maidstone in the first two rounds, Oldham finds themselves in the 3rd round for the first time in five years. I can say with absolute confidence though that as the day of the draw got closer, the growing list of teams who Latics fans hoped we’d be pitched against did not include Fulham!

I have no wish to paint Fulham as the poor relations of the Premier League but they are currently in the relegation places and Craven Cottage is hardly the Nou Camp. However, this can work in Oldham’s favour if past experience is anything to go by. The cost to a club of dropping out of the Premier League is dramatic, to say the least, and it will not have escaped the notice of everyone associated with the London club that the FA Cup is at present something of an unwanted distraction.

Most clubs in the top two divisions make wholesale changes to their first eleven when faced with a game against a side which are 60+ places below them. It is a natural move and gives fringe players the chance to show their worth and enables regular first teamers to get a rest. However, this has backfired on clubs with regularity and cooked up some classic encounters.

Oldham have benefitted on several occasions at this stage in the competition from team selection ‘tinkering’ and it will be interesting to see if the Fulham side resembles the one that was beaten by Arsenal on New Years Day.

In comparison Latics seemingly have everything going for them. Two victories in a row, a stand-in manager in Pete Wild following the sacking of Frankie Bunn who has been virtually plucked from the terraces and has hit the ground running. The signing till the end of the season of Callum Lang and the secret weapon of two youngsters who Wild knows well, Harry Robinson and 15 years old Jack Williams just waiting to step up for their share of FA Cup glory.

A 2pm kick off in the capital on a Sunday might well have kept the travelling supporters down to the bare minimum of die hards but this game appears to have captured the imagination of the fans and there will be just short of 4000 Latics fans at the game hoping for an upset.

What It Means To Get One Over Rochdale For an Oldham Fan

The Checkatrade Trophy tie with Rochdale on tonight at the Crown Oil Arena will be the 60th meeting between the two clubs. There is as would be expected, a certain amount of rivalry between the sides whose homes are only 5 miles apart.

I was first introduced to the joy of playing Rochdale in November 1970 when our paths crossed in the FA Cup first round. Rochdale were enjoying a brief spell in a higher division than us, whilst we were about to embark on a departure from the bottom tier which would last 48 years.

It was evident that despite a relative handful of games since the clubs were formed, there existed a powerful rivalry which continues to this day. We are blessed or cursed depending on how you look at it, to be able to swap banter at will in the modern age thanks to technology.  Back then it was limited to strongly worded letters to the local paper.

The FA Cup defeat to Rochdale in 1970 should have been forgotten in a matter of days. As the Oldham side went on to win promotion, but the embarrassment of losing to what was viewed as a club who wasn’t really a relevant threat stuck in the throats of Latics fans for a considerable period of time.

After three seasons of competition in the Third Division in which Rochdale failed to beat us, our paths took different directions and it was to be 36 years before we met again in the league. In all that time, Rochdale supporters relished any opportunity to ‘have a dig’ at any misfortune that fell on us but they were always viewed as the annoying cousin who you didn’t want your mates to know about. It was very easy to dismiss them as irrelevant when Latics’ fixture list contained games against Man United and Liverpool.

Rochdale have once again enjoyed a brief spell of fortune which saw them stay in League One this season whilst we have dropped into League Two. Recent meetings have shown that Latics are more than capable of turning our poor neighbours over and even if we fail to do so again on Wednesday night, it will mean an awful lot more to them than it does to us.

That FA Cup defeat is long forgotten.

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