Tuesday, January 08, 2008

There's been a lot of talk about teams fielding weakened sides in last weekend's FA Cup, and that's not an excuse as far as Blues were concerned, who fielded a full-strength side and still got beat by Huddersfield. But it appears the commentators are starting to wake up to the bald reality of the situation, that the FA Cup has been monopolised by the big four - Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd - for the past 12 years. Sadly, the same is true of the Carling Cup too, with the big sides now so far ahead of the rest of us they can get to the final fielding a second string or - in the case of Arsenal - their youth team.

Put another way: there are now no domestic trophies for anyone other than the big four to win. No wonder football is going through a stagnant phase - if all you have to look forward to is a battle for promotion, or against the drop, or maybe a UEFA Cup place, how can you sustain that season after season? 20 years ago, I still thought Birmingham might one day win the FA Cup, but after missing out on penalties in Cardiff in 2001, we've been nowhere near a final since. I knew the likelihood was that we'd never win anything, but there was a spark of hope there. With that extinguished, what does anyone have to look forward to?

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