Ben Burgess column: FA Cup needs some love and affection

Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess
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Has the magic of the FA Cup gone forever? Does anybody really care about the oldest and most famous cup competition in the world?

It appears thousands of fans have fallen out of love with it.

Attendances were way down across the country for last weekend’s third round ties and Premier League teams were treating it as their equivalent of the Checkatrade Trophy.

Already top-flight teams Swansea, Everton, Stoke, Bournemouth and West Brom are out and others have difficult replays to contend with.

An example of this is Liverpool, who made 10 changes to their starting line-up and only managed to secure a 0-0 draw at Anfield against League Two Plymouth.

The Argyle fans did take the cup seriously, though, and 9,000 travelled to Liverpool – but did they deserve to see the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino from the start?

Bournemouth fans would have travelled to Millwall confident of victory after recent great Premier League performances against the likes of Arsenal. Instead they watched their reserve/youth team capitulate 3-0.

The merits of resting players for cup games really is a contentious point.

Sadly for the top six Premier League teams, the FA Cup is right at the bottom of their priorites.

For the bottom seven or eight teams, they prioritise survival over a cup run.

It’s usually only the mid-table teams that see it as worth something, and even those clubs played weakened sides and lost (West Brom, Stoke, Everton).

Blackpool saved their best performance in recent weeks for the game against Barnsley. Despite there being twice the number of away supporters as there were home fans, the Seasiders gave a great account of themselves and were unfortunate not to come away with a win.

A replay at Barnsley next Tuesday will be a tough ask, but with little expectation the Seasiders might just sneak it.

If they do go through they will be faced with Gary Bowyer’s old team, Blackburn Rovers. I can only imagine the sort of protests that could take place among both sets of fans!

The Checkatrade Trophy saw Bowyer do a ‘Klopp’ and rest many of his first-choice 11.

The game also saw another extremely low attendance, even to the point where the BBC were retweeting pictures of the empty stadium!

Blackpool’s luck in the competition finally ran out and despite taking the game to penalties for the third tie on the run, they succumbed 5-4.

Now the transfer window has well and truly opened there has been plenty of speculation flying around.

Brad Potts has been linked to a few clubs and I’m sure there will be a couple of others attracting interest from teams in higher divisions.

This is the time Blackpool need to stay firm, refuse to sell their best players and reverse the usual trend of selling off assets.

Investing in the squad further and ending the transfer window in better shape than they entered it should be the aim of a club seeking promotion.

After Pep Guardiola’s outburst last week, I’ve been listening closely to interviews. What really annoy me from a journalistic and playing perspective are some of the inane questions that are asked in post-match interviews.

What kind of answer do you expect from: “Were you disappointed with the defeat?”

Willy Caballero, Manchester City’s goalkeeper, was asked: “Is it important to keep a clean sheet for a goalkeeper?”

Imagine having a really bad day at work, when you’ve made a ton of mistakes, loads of things have gone wrong and you’re on the point of being made redundant.

Then imagine someone poking a tape recorder in your face as you’re trying to leave to go home!

I also understand that most of the engaging and revealing questions journalists think up are shunned by the players and managers anyway.