considers Aston Villa’s Carling Cup Final date with Manchester United at Wembley.

You’re at Wembley again, you’re in a cup final for the first time in ten years, playing a team that just might have their minds focused on other things.

But you’ve lost the toss of the coin. And you’re superstitious. Very superstitious.

Like Bobby Moore, who would not put on his shorts until every other member of the team had theirs on first.

Like Johan Cruyff who used to slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and then spit his chewing gum into the opposition’s half before kick-off.

You wear a lucky number 31 tracksuit.

Like Don Revie in his lucky blue suit. Just like Revie in his royal blue suit. Burned by your idol.

But you’ve lost the toss of the coin and Aston Villa will wear white. Not the claret and blue they wore in defeating Manchester United in March 1994.

Not the claret and blue they donned in defeating Leeds United in March 1996. But all white shirts, like Leeds. Just like Revie’s Leeds.

You are supposed to be cut out of the same cloth as Brian Clough? You’re the man with the witty ripostes, like Brian.

But you’ve lost the toss and it’s spinning in your mind, thumping in your brain.

And more like Revie, you’ve fallen out with folk. Fallen out with Arsene Wenger because he said you played long balls. Fallen out with that Neil Warnock because he said you should never have got that corner.

You’ve lost the toss and will wear white.

This used to be Martin O’Neill’s day, the League Cup Final.

Won it as a player with fancied Forest, lost it as a player with fancied Forest, won it as a manager with unfancied Leicester and lost it as a manager with unfancied Leicester.

Now you’re unfancied Villa, against fancied Manchester United – the fancy dans of the Premier League complete with the greatest footballer in Europe, Wayne Rooney.

You’ve lost the toss and United will wear their home strip at Wembley.

If only Crystal Palace hadn’t fought out a draw you’d have a full week to prepare.

In that other Cup, the FA Cup where clubs field their strongest sides. The FA Cup. Where replays exist.

Not the League Cup where Wenger fields the kids. Weakened teams explained as rotation.

Not the League Cup where clubs competing in Europe enter at the third round stage, like your Villa. The League Cup. Better enjoy the ride because in three years, when the current TV deal runs it course, it’ll be as nondescript as when Villa won it in its inaugural year.

That was 1961. John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th President of the United States. Spurs win the double after beating your old team Leicester.

This is the 1961 League Cup. The Johnstone’s Paint, the Freight Rover, the Autoglass Shield of its day.

When Arsenal did not take part. Them and Luton, Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom, Wolves and Tottenham. All refusing to play.

Villa beat Rotherham after an 11-month competition. The first leg, at Villa Park, draws just 12,226.

The award by UEFA of a European cup competition place for the winner, plus the attraction of Wembley as a final venue, breathes fresh life from 1967 after Chelsea, the holders, became one of the eight teams to pull out.

Alan Hardaker – the competition’s founder – is now quoted as saying: “The FA Cup is football’s Ascot, the League Cup its equivalent of Derby Day at Epsom”.

The late 1970s, when you in Clough’s Forest were kings, and the early 1980s when Liverpool reigned supreme, were golden.

But the Football League Cup has never been centre stage. Never.

But when the FA Cup, save Portsmouth’s moment in the spotlight, is a closed shop for the patricians this is your chance to shine.

A competition for the plebeians.

Tranmere, beaten by your Leicester after Clint Hill’s dubious red card for a tackle on your favourite son Emile Heskey – and Birmingham City have made the Final since the Millennium.

Blackburn and Wigan, Middlesbrough and Bolton too.

The Premier League’s proposal to introduce play-offs for the fourth Champions League place may give your Villa a shot in the arm as you seek to break the league monopoly.

But it will be the death-knell of the League Cup.

Read the article on Birmingham Post

Bill Howell: Carling Cup triumph is a second-rate success

considers Aston Villa’s Carling Cup Final date with Manchester United at Wembley.

You’re at Wembley again, you’re in a cup final for the first time in ten years, playing a team that just might have their minds focused on other things.

But you’ve lost the toss of the coin. And you’re superstitious. Very superstitious.

Like Bobby Moore, who would not put on his shorts until every other member of the team had theirs on first.

Like Johan Cruyff who used to slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and then spit his chewing gum into the opposition’s half before kick-off.

You wear a lucky number 31 tracksuit.

Like Don Revie in his lucky blue suit. Just like Revie in his royal blue suit. Burned by your idol.

But you’ve lost the toss of the coin and Aston Villa will wear white. Not the claret and blue they wore in defeating Manchester United in March 1994.

Not the claret and blue they donned in defeating Leeds United in March 1996. But all white shirts, like Leeds. Just like Revie’s Leeds.

You are supposed to be cut out of the same cloth as Brian Clough? You’re the man with the witty ripostes, like Brian.

But you’ve lost the toss and it’s spinning in your mind, thumping in your brain.

And more like Revie, you’ve fallen out with folk. Fallen out with Arsene Wenger because he said you played long balls. Fallen out with that Neil Warnock because he said you should never have got that corner.

You’ve lost the toss and will wear white.

This used to be Martin O’Neill’s day, the League Cup Final.

Won it as a player with fancied Forest, lost it as a player with fancied Forest, won it as a manager with unfancied Leicester and lost it as a manager with unfancied Leicester.

Now you’re unfancied Villa, against fancied Manchester United – the fancy dans of the Premier League complete with the greatest footballer in Europe, Wayne Rooney.

You’ve lost the toss and United will wear their home strip at Wembley.

If only Crystal Palace hadn’t fought out a draw you’d have a full week to prepare.

In that other Cup, the FA Cup where clubs field their strongest sides. The FA Cup. Where replays exist.

Not the League Cup where Wenger fields the kids. Weakened teams explained as rotation.

Not the League Cup where clubs competing in Europe enter at the third round stage, like your Villa. The League Cup. Better enjoy the ride because in three years, when the current TV deal runs it course, it’ll be as nondescript as when Villa won it in its inaugural year.

That was 1961. John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th President of the United States. Spurs win the double after beating your old team Leicester.

This is the 1961 League Cup. The Johnstone’s Paint, the Freight Rover, the Autoglass Shield of its day.

When Arsenal did not take part. Them and Luton, Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom, Wolves and Tottenham. All refusing to play.

Villa beat Rotherham after an 11-month competition. The first leg, at Villa Park, draws just 12,226.

The award by UEFA of a European cup competition place for the winner, plus the attraction of Wembley as a final venue, breathes fresh life from 1967 after Chelsea, the holders, became one of the eight teams to pull out.

Alan Hardaker – the competition’s founder – is now quoted as saying: “The FA Cup is football’s Ascot, the League Cup its equivalent of Derby Day at Epsom”.

The late 1970s, when you in Clough’s Forest were kings, and the early 1980s when Liverpool reigned supreme, were golden.

But the Football League Cup has never been centre stage. Never.

But when the FA Cup, save Portsmouth’s moment in the spotlight, is a closed shop for the patricians this is your chance to shine.

A competition for the plebeians.

Tranmere, beaten by your Leicester after Clint Hill’s dubious red card for a tackle on your favourite son Emile Heskey – and Birmingham City have made the Final since the Millennium.

Blackburn and Wigan, Middlesbrough and Bolton too.

The Premier League’s proposal to introduce play-offs for the fourth Champions League place may give your Villa a shot in the arm as you seek to break the league monopoly.

But it will be the death-knell of the League Cup.

Read the article on Birmingham Post

Postat de pe data de 31 ian., 2010 in categoria România în lume. Poti urmari comentariile acestui articol prin RSS 2.0. Acest articol a fost vizualizat de 91 ori.

Publica un raspuns