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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! 

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I thought I'd take time out this morning to explain my tweet last night (sent whilst I was watching the real MNF with its originator Andy Gray and Glenn Hoddle) Sometimes 140 characters are just not enough! 

It was towards the back end of last season that Jim Beglin used the phrase 'Everton have made 'significant' progress under Roberto Martinez'.

I disagreed. I said so. And I still disagree. Of course, Jim is allowed his opinion (he's a good football judge and a very good co-commentator, as well as being a top bloke). Having stated that principle, I too am allowed mine. We've all got an opinion on football. It's what makes the game great. It's what keeps us talking about it. It's what makes it special.

It should NOT be the case that somebody (me in this case) should be the recipient of the foul bile and abuse that often follows if small minded bigoted, so called football supporters disagree. Have a debate. Discuss. What's wrong with that?

I stand by what I said, and I believe this season's trouble at Goodison makes me right.

A quick history lesson. I think the world of the club. It played a major part in my broadcasting education. I watched them, almost exclusively for four years when I worked at Radio City in Liverpool.

It was then - and still is - exactly what David Moyes called it when he joined them from Preston 'the people's club'.

David worked wonders during his time at Everton. I watched with 16,000 fans most weeks as Howard Kendall trawled his backside up and down the right flank during an awful era!  Eventually. Howard got it right and he remains the most successful manager the club has ever had.

But the glory years had long been forgotten by the time Moyes arrived. Working with tight budgets, in an ageing arena and limited training facilities, he made them competitive again. They became difficult to beat and could give anyone a game. Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final were the highlights. Moyes should be regarded as a modern day hero at Everton, not reviled.

Martinez, working with many of Moyes' players, had a very good season last time out. Barry was an astute piece of business and Lukaku made us all wonder why Mourniho had let him go on loan. I did warn though that he could become 'new' Adebayor. My reasoning being that Adebayor has often looked world class when on loan. No team has seen the best of him having signed him. Lukaku has got work to do to persuade me he's different.

Anyway, Martinez matched Moyes' best season point for point. Goal for goal. But Everton were passing the ball a lot. Passing it more than ever before. 'Easier on the eye' I was told. 'Better to watch'. They'd 'improved significantly'. No they hadn't. And no they haven't.

Possession and passing are all very good if there is an end product to go with it. I've said this time and again during this era of stat driven possession and passing. Passing where? Possession where? Across in front of the keeper time and time again. And again. And again!

Possession is not 9/10th's of the law. It can be 9/10th's of a bore. And I believe most Evertonians are now coming round to that way of thinking. So are the players. Why was it that Lukaku and Jagielka sought to persuade Martinez to be more 'direct' in the cup tie against West Ham otherwise? And they were again v City.

Last night though they were poor. The fuss over 'penalty-gate' masked a dreadful performance. Martinez has got to re-think what he's doing or Everton could find themselves in real trouble.

At the start of the season I omitted Everton from my predicted top 6 and got hammered. I apologised and said if there was a team equipped to break 'into' my 6 it was Everton. I was originally correct and subsequently wrong!

On the subject of possession and passing - I'll leave you with these words.

'I loathe all that passing for the sake of it. All that tiki-taka. It's so much rubbish and has no purpose. You have to pass the ball with a clear intention of making it into the oppositions goal

Don't believe what people say. Barca didn't do tiki-taka. It's completely made up. Don't believe a word of it!'

The source of those wise words? Pep Guardiola in his book. The prosecution rests it's case!!!

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I wonder if you can work out who uttered these fine words? 'It's all in the past and not important now. I don't think about it. It's something I want. It will be done'. Indeed, eight days later, in November last year, this individual signed a new 4-year contract.

His manager said 'it's fantastic. We need commitment and this shows he's very committed. When we talk about the future and progressing it can't just be talk - there has to be commitment'.

Have you got it yet? Well maybe this will help.

'His is just one of 20 or 30 names I have read...but we have restrictions about money. I don't think it will be a special window for our team'.

If you were to take all that at face value then Wilfried Bony would still be playing for Garry Monk at Swansea and Manuel Pelligrini would have kept City's cheque book closed.

So, were all three lying? Just stretching the truth a little bit? Or did they all genuinely believe what they said at the time really was the case?

We'll never know of course, but my feeling, after a little research, is that all three were talking nonsense.

This is what almost certainly happened. Swansea bought out the 'release clause' in Bony's contract. He got a pay rise. They were able to sell at a time of their choosing, for almost twice the price they might have got otherwise, and City were almost certainly always going to spend the best part of £30m to get him, despite their FFP irregularities last season.

And Swansea City fans? Those poor fools that were fed the original guff by player and manager at their club? What about them? Bottom line would appear to be - who cares?

This is not an isolated case though. I'm certain Liverpool fans really believed that Luis Suarez was signing on for life when he committed to a new deal at Anfield. And with good reason. Where is he less than 12 months later?

The game is littered with other examples. Who would've thought that Christiano Ronaldo would've ended up at Real Madrid 12 months after committing his future to Manchester United?  I'll tell you who - Ramon Calderon, the Real President, who agreed to his request to stay at United for another 12 months, before completing an agreed £80m move. Oh, Fergie knew as well. And almost certainly David Gill, who was Chief Exec at United at the time. Did they let anyone else in on their secret? The United fans for example? Don't be daft, of course they didn't.

I wouldn't normally expose a 'source', but Ramon is a good mate and has gone public himself with this story.

What about Gareth Bale? He signed a multi-million pound deal at Spurs didn't he -12 months before his world record move to Madrid? What a co-incidence!

How about these guys? Similar happened in these cases –

Aguero signed a new deal with Atletico Madrid 1 year before joining Man City, as did Costa before joining Chelsea. Lallana signed 1 year before joining Liverpool. Andy Carroll signed a 5 year deal with Newcastle and joined Liverpool 3 months later! When Anelka joined Chelsea he’d only signed a new contract 6 months previous. Slightly different but Falcao and James Rodriguez were only at Monaco for a year before joining Man Utd and Real.

And that brings me to Thierry Henry. I tweeted at the weekend to wish him good luck on his Sky Sports debut. I meant it, but my motives were called into question when I added 'I'm sorry we couldn't make it work here (BeIN Sports) but he just wanted too much'. What's wrong with that? It's a fact. I spent weeks last year talking to his Agent Darren Dein (yes, son of the X-Arsenal Vice-Chairman, David) trying to shape a deal that would allow Thierry to work for us out of France, Miami and Qatar, whilst talking about P Lge football, Ligue 1 and crucially, the Champions League, which Sky don't have the rights to beyond this season. BT start broadcasting in the UK from August.

Amongst our analysts already enjoying that job spec are the likes of Ruud Gullit, Andy Cole, Michel Salgado, Graeme Souness, Glenn Hoddle, Patrick Kluivert and Fabio Cannavaro to name just a few. I was given a strong indication that Thierry wanted to join that list. In the end, Darren's view of his worth to us was different to ours. Simple. With fewer big names in their stable, Sky were prepared to pay the asking price. No problem there. It's business, but I like to keep our army of subscribers informed as to what happens at BeIN a) because they're interested and ask me and b) because they're customers that deserve the truth.

It's something that football often forgets. No, very often forgets, or doesn't care about at all.

On other subjects, what an extra-ordinary weekend. Saturday was the best day for away teams since the top division began in 1888!

Six of the seven P Lge matches were won by the visiting side. Arsenal added their name to that list on Sunday.

Who saw that coming? If we're honest, none of us. I think it was simply 'the' result of the season so far. Think about it - Arsenal had gone 16 matches without a win v City, United and Chelsea before yesterday. Here they were, with last season's 6-3 hammering fresh in their minds, and an army of doubters ready to jump all over them again, going to the home of the Champions, and frustrating the life out of them with a mature, thoughtful and dogged performance. Not things we've come to expect from an Arsene Wenger team in recent seasons. City forced 16 corners, the most conceded by Arsenal in a league game since Opta's records began in 2006. Their much criticised 'zonal' marking system stood firm, although we at BeIN Sports, Andy Gray myself and Glenn Hoddle, did notice a slight change to Mertesacker's positioning.

So what happened? Where did that performance come from? What did Arsenal work on all last week? At who's suggestion? Was Arsene, famous for his stubbornness, listening at last? Why has it taken so long to get it right? Questions we'll have to wait to be answered in the coming weeks. I'm desperate to find out.

And how long before Luis van Gaal stops messing about with his players and systems at United? Di Maria is NOT a forward. Wayne Rooney IS. Phil Jones CANT take corners. And their defenders',  just like their supporters, don't like 3-5-2.

But whoever cared about what supporters wanted?!?