Firstly nobody can say that ‘not all’ players, clubs and fans don’t care about the FA Cup and those that do take it serious (like Norwich and Tottenham Hotspur did last night) will always be regarded highly by football lovers across the country (like me) for doing so.
I wanted to start on Tottenham Hotspur’s performance and although I’ve felt slightly sorry for Mr Mourinho of late, in losing two of his best players and three of the leagues best in his short tenure in charge of the Lilywhites I was pointed out by someone that Norwich City, the Premier League’s bottom placed team played last nights FA Cup Fifth round tie away from home for 120 minutes without their own best player and top goalscorer Teemu Pukki… So excuses aside, yet again things were not good enough from a Tottenham team that lets remember under ten months ago was playing in a Champions League Final.
Onto Norwich.. It wasn’t quite smash and grab but Mourinho himself pointed out that the visitors got their normal time leveller after the Spurs players had ‘asked’ to come off… I’m not sure why Mourinho did substitute both Lucas and Bergwijn his ‘only’ attacking legs, but perhaps knowing the defensive maestro’s love for holding out he probably felt 1-0 was enough… But with this Tottenham team this season, he maybe should have known better.
Norwich deserved to take their hosts to a penalty shootout and that’s where for me they did their homework the best. Every Spurs player’s name and favourite shooting side written on Tim Krul’s water bottle… Paper, pen and sellotape… No wonder he’s the best in the business at stopping penalties.
In truth the Dutchman danced and jigged like your old man at a wedding and could have been pulled for practically ‘all’ of his three penalty stops but that wouldn’t have been within the spirit of the game. We know the rules but we like to bend them in football, Krul used every advantage he could when standing up against Spurs penalty takers and thankfully VAR’s computer didn’t say no.
What happened after for me was the sublime to the ridiculous… Not since the day Forest’s Mark Crossley knocked Spurs out of the Cup in the mid-nineties, running the length of the old White Hart Lane pitch after saving from Teddy Sheringham just as Krul did from Troy Parrott before setting off in a tank like motion gradually getting faster before having nowhere else to go…. have I seen such emotion during a domestic penalties win and witnessing the sea of 9,000 yellow and green canary following supporters go mad with the team arms locked in front of them was a joy for all bar Spurs (and Ipswich) fans to see. Magical stuff and stuff that tells you the cup still has that magic in it.
Whilst all this was going off at the other end of the stadium Eric Dier before trudging through the tunnel can somehow hear his brother getting abused in the posh seats, probably because Eric Dier as usual is getting criticism for his own performances again, it’s never nice to see but passions run high in this sport we love. Dier hurdling over rows of seats like Colin Jackson in the 1993 World Athletics Championships to get to his man and stick up for his brother, only to be separated by a steward amidst chaos of fans videoing live feeds of the action on their smart phones.
What Eric Dier did was from the heart, you can’t tolerate it but something in the back of your head says ‘good lad’ for doing so. He’ll probably get punished and under the letter of the law probably rightly too… But I would like to think people give a bit more respect for Dier, his family, and think before they speak in future… After all it was his penalty that took our nation to a Quarter Final of a World Cup. I for one respect him for that.
And whilst Dier did, (eventually) show passion following an FA Cup tie that had it all… I then think of Jurgen Klopp who couldn’t even be bothered to pick a decent team to play in it…
In truth the German has bigger fish to fry.. But I can’t help feeling that his sides latest dip in form has come since he decided to holiday his star assets instead of take on Shreswbury.
Liverpool will eventually stumble over the Premier League finish line although I really doubt they’ll hold on to their Champions League title too… One thing I agree with Jurgen on though is after being asked about Coronavirus he replied “I don’t see the obsession in asking footballers, managers, celebrities about this… Our opinion is not important, ask the experts instead, ask me about football”.
One question that Klopp might be asking himself about could be why he recently replied to 10 year old Darragh Curley a Manchester United fan who asked Klopp to make Liverpool lose? Since the letter came to press Liverpool have now lost three of their last four games very much granting the young Irishman’s wish.
Football as unpredictable as usual again with its highs and lows never short of controversy we really wouldn’t have it any other way.. Whatever next? Roy Keane stroking a dog on national TV perhaps???