Two men, that knew they were the centre of attention because they are two men that always believe they’re the centre of the footballing world when they are on the park. Two men that did what they set out to do – decide the two teams that’ll compete for this seasons FA Cup.
On Saturday it was Howard Webb, 81,869 turned up and millions tuned in just to watch him and he didn’t disappoint. Never one to purposely hinder the progress of a “top 4” side, Howard made sure that Chelsea got “the rub of the green”. As he was well positioned to see exactly what a stonewall penalty it was when Mikel took down Agbonlahor. Spot kick and a red card but no Howard would do such a thing to Chelsea against Villa. Now it may not have changed the outcome but it couldn’t be allowed to. Howard did his job the big boys were through.
And onto Sunday where an additional approximately 3,000 turned up to watch Alan G. Wiley do his job, which of course was to make sure there’s plenty of talk about “the romance of the cup”. So that would be a Pompey win then Al, see what you can do.
So plucky Pompey, down on their uppers, set out with the game plan of a flat back 9 and kick anyone wearing white. Al seems quite happy with the latter part of the tactics. Ah but a bloke wearing white slightly brushes someone in blue – whistle – free-kick. Dawson didn’t touch whoever it was that threw himself to the floor, it’s then compounded by Daws slipping at the vital moment and they’re one up and quite frankly it’s all over. Now yes Dawson was lucky a little earlier when he had a bit of a forearm/elbow smash on the neck of a Pompey player he went through. Had Wiley been told he’d missed that and was making up for it?
Then there was the Spurs goal, perfectly good goal taken by Crouch, there was cheering and celebration but not by me, I’d heard the whistle very early, maybe even before it was blown. James – looking pwetty in pink – coming out into a crowd of his own players, only one thing happening here, doesn’t matter if there was no foul what so ever. That then of course followed up by Palacios’ tackle where he got the ball but the player went over and any ref worth his salty isn’t going to turn that one down now is he? Oh and of course give Wilson the yellow card that means he’ll miss the next two games.
Against a cannon fodder side that were tipped for the drop at the very beginning of the season and didn’t disappoint – it was confirmed on Saturday which of course just added to the romance – they had 31 attempts at goal, none of which were really clean through chances. Whereas Pompey had a dozen and Gomes had to make good saves, James just had to pluck the ball out of the air with ease. Not good, not good at all.
It was an inept display, almost all round. As I said Gomes made good saves, almost got the penalty, no real fault for the goal. Dawson defended and lead well, bar of course two incidents. And Bale well the Welsh fullback again shone. He was really the best attacking outlet for Spurs all afternoon long. After 120 minutes of near constant movement at speed he must be completely knackered today. The only time he was stationary during actual play was after one lung bursting romp up the park, even he needed a breather.
As for the rest it was lacking. Corluka coming back from injury and Bentley really don’t work on the right, both are far too lumbering and slow. If only Walker wasn’t cup-tied, great move that. So Bentley was left putting in crosses mainly from too deep areas and no matter what his girly fans think they weren’t that great. Mostly powder puff efforts that required Crouch to impart all the pace on the ball. It’s OK blaming Crouch for his headers and yes bizarrely it isn’t the best aspect of his game but he wasn’t helped by the delivery.
Huddlestone looked off the pace, like someone coming back from injury, what a surprise that and alongside him we saw the best and worst of Palacios. The best is when winning the ball, even when being restrained due to that yellow card ban hanging over his head he did the enforcer job well. But then it fell down when he had the ball at his feet as time after time he stood there and dithered, allowing Pompey to amass the defence. When quick decisive play was required we got well Jenas. In the last hour – including the extra-time – he seemed to have the ball far too much. And before seeing Huddlestone sat there after his substitution with ice strapped to his ankle I was saying it should have been Wilson that was withdrawn.
Modric was quite with it either the flat back 9 didn’t help neither did the pitch but he looked flat, even with quite a bit of possession. The front two that started didn’t click again, Defoe looked off-it and quite frankly ‘Arry left the substitutions too late, they should have been made at half-time, like he’d done in recent games as, games in which the performance lifted straight after the break where here it was just as flat. Niko and Pav should have been brought in then.
Then the heavy irony of Rocha being named man-of-the-match as he put himself in front of nearly every Spurs attempt on goal. Is this the type of play he showed to get his move to The Lane, certainly not the way he played when he got there.
Spurs didn’t deserve to lose the way they did but and like Dawn French’s it’s a big but they didn’t deserve to win either.
The FA and ITV got what they wanted a big 4 team and the “romance” team. And if it’s on a pitch like that then a crap final.
They only had to rally get one thing right with the new Wembley and that was the pitch. Oh how they screwed the pooch on that one. How many millions spent and on it’s what 10th relay in 3 years it’s still an absolute disaster. It was simple, they just had to look at what others had done and the history of modern stadia. When it’s so enclosed the pitch usually ends up as a mess – Millenium & Murrayfield – then when you add all the other events they need to stage to recoup some of the cost, the pitch is covered and messed about with. Now if they’d have spent the money correctly the pitch would just roll out, get a nice tan and be undisturbed by Bon Jovi fans and be allowed to grow properly.
Strange how in other countries they managed to do this at far less cost than the FA stumped up for this disgrace of a national stadium.