Pochettino Shouldn’t Take the F.A Cup Lightly
We don’t care about the F.A Cup, you knucklehead- we’re trying to win the bloody League!
There you go, Spurs and Leicester fans. A cut-out-and-keep line of spin to use if your beloved side gets dumped out of the nation’s favourite knockout competition this afternoon.
And you thought the magic of the Cup was dead.
That’s not the attitude, obviously. While the two clubs might have vapour-thin aspirations of a title bid swimming in the back of their minds somewhere— occupying 4th and 2nd in the Premier League, respectively— it’s important that neither get too intoxicated by the fumes and lose all perspective.
Make no mistake, for both Spurs and our friends in the East Midlands, if it’s actual measurable success they’re after— maybe even something solid they could display in a trophy cabinet and let collect dust— the F.A Cup represents their brightest hope.
Here’s Nacer Chadli talking a good fight on Spurs’ official site:
“I think the FA Cup is a good competition and we have to try to win it this year. Obviously we have to win this weekend to go through, but it’s very important for the confidence of the group to keep playing in the FA Cup so we will do our best.”
That’s the spirit, old boy. Echoes of glory and all that.
If Tottenham are to stumble at the first hurdle today, it’ll be tempting to claim that we’ve got bigger fish to fry. A Top Four finish, perhaps; another assault on the Europa League— that unlikely title push. But this kind of bargaining in the face of defeat sounds awfully familiar.
The pain of a Third Round exit to Leicester last season was supposed to be short-lived; eased by the prospect of triumphs that might arrive elsewhere. You might remember how that panned out.
A gut-socking day at Wembley, a thorough dismantling by Fiorentina in the Europa League first knockout stages and an ebbing of a Top Four challenge. All within the space of a week in early March.
All of a sudden the F.A Cup seemed like an opportunity missed.
With things shaping up in similar fashion this year— Hello, Fiorentina — you feel that taking this afternoon’s fixture lightly would be a disastrous move. This should be one of Spurs’ top priorities.
Worringly, as we touched on here after the League Cup exit to Arsenal in September, Pochettino has a wilful habit of undermining the domestic knockout contests with some half-baked team selections.
In early 2014, his Southampton side limped out at the Fifth Round stage to Sunderland thanks to a harebrained idea to rest his big ticket players. Schneiderlin and Rodriquez were among those absent in a hugely winnable fixture against a team just a point outside the relegation zone.
Let’s hope Pochettino’s mindset has changed and recognizes that the F.A Cup is worth the effort.
To the game itself and Spurs’ chances have been boosted by the news that insatiable goalbot Jamie Vardy has undergone minor surgery on his groin.
For something so medically significant sounding, while the spell under the knife/laser/lightsaber will put the England striker out for today’s game, Vardy will be back and able-bodied for the following League fixture with Spurs a whole three days later.
The most minor of minor surgery, then. I’ve been out of action for longer with a bad haircut. The wonders of modern medicine.
**First published here on 10/1/16- hence all the outdated fug.**