For most it was the definitive weekend of FA Cup football. At last, the old girl got up off her sick bed and snapped back, proving there is life in the oldest and greatest knock out competition of them all. But is there really?
It all started at The Abbey Stadium on Friday night. What a terrific performance by Richard Money's Cambridge Utd that was. Despite his many excuses, there was nobody Luis Van Gaal could blame for Utd's embarrassing night out other than himself and his team.
Jose Mourinho said it would be a 'disgrace' were Chelsea to lose at home to Bradford. Well, it was. He made eight changes - something he's not known for doing - and they lost. Take nothing away from Bradford - I'm delighted for them - but why is there a big piece of me convinced that Mourinho is chuffed to bits? Forget all the nonsense about a 'quadruple'. It's not possible. Mourinho knows that more than anybody else. Have we all forgotten he said as much before the game? He'll have a go Tuesday night v L'pool because he wants to go back to Wembley. And because it's L'pool! Otherwise he wouldn't be too bothered again. There's two prizes he has his sights on this season - the P Lge and the C Lge. In that order.
A lot of fuss was made about Man City's late arrival back from Abu Dhabi following their mid-winter break. I even saw the phrase 'jet- lag' used in one paper! Jet-lag? After a flight from Abu Dhabi? Come on. Nonsense.
Take nothing away from M'boro, but City were poor again. I was taken by Pellegrini's line 'the flight from Abu Dhabi is not the reason we haven't scored in our last two home matches'. That tells me he sniffs a far greater problem. That should worry City fans more than the defeat. In fact, just like Mourinho, I suspect Pellegrini is quietly pleased his team are out!
So should we believe the FA Cup is off the sick list when the top two teams in the country aren't really too bothered that they're out?
I'm wondering whether Ronald Koeman will be shedding too many tears as well! He's got other targets.
United, on the other hand, NEED it. They're my pick to win it, but not unless Van Gaal can convince his players' of what it is he's trying to achieve. I'm not sure anymore that even he knows!
Well done Leicester. And Jeffrey Schlupp. Like Diafra Sakho he's up and about after 'injury' ruled them both out of the Africa Cup of Nations......! Watch this space.
Top marks to Bolton as well. A fine draw earned at L'pool. And Blackburn, who dumped out Swansea.
So now we're without Chelsea, City, Soton, Spurs, Newcastle and Everton. We could yet lose L'pool and Sunderland. If Utd go out Van Gaal should resign. I mean it. But they won't.
Do we really want a competition so devoid of Cup giants on the afore mentioned list? I don't.
I remember only too well the semi-finals of 2008. I turned up at Wembley, with my colleagues at Sky, to watch a semi-final between Barnsley and Cardiff. With respect (which I grant you generally means 'none at all'!) other than the supporters of Barnsley and Cardiff - who really cared? Brian Barwick, who was then Chief Exec of the FA, said to me 'cheer up Keysie, it's a game isn't it'? 'It's a game'? That was the top man at the FA (how he ever got the job is a conversation for another time).
Cardiff won a drab and instantly forgettable semi-final and went on to lose to Portsmouth. It was an awful final. 'Arry, of course, ripped the 'eart out of Pompey to put that one piece of silverware on his cv. If they could turn the clock back and have their club back, forgoing that Cup win, I'm sure Pompey fans would. But that's another story.
My point is, surely we don't want another year like that? It's great now watching the giants fall, but we need at least three of them in the semi-finals. This competition is supposed to be our 'showcase' around the world. Be careful what you wish for........... Oh, and good luck Rochdale!