You are the head of a multi-billion pound organisation whose influence and power is waning, undermined by the money which your predecessors embraced, lovingly caressing the notes as they slid effortlessly into the bank accounts you so achingly preserve.
What, in Greg’s shoes, would you do?
Of course you would make the biggest fuss ever about the final of the cup competition which has given your organisation its reputation, its heritage, its loving glow. You would be shouting from the treetops about the romance of the cup; of underdogs, Wimbledon and Wigan, making sure that no person in the world did not know the merry month of May heralded the FA Cup final, even if the soul of the competition was sold to television and kick-off times unedifyingly shunted around the schedules under the guise of family orientated inclusion. And in no way would you want any thunder stolen by a pipsqueak league showing its climatic conclusion with second playing first. Uh-uh, no sir.
Or you could be Greg Dyke and do a smidgen or two to ensure that people forgot the forthcoming weekend was about your blue-riband event. Greg has announced his own commission’s report, ducked for cover as the storm broke, let the England manager announce his 22 who will do battle half a world away, with nary a tale told by the ex-pro leaning over bar, showing off his medals beyond the taps. At least we bloody love the FA Cup. Even if the FA don’t.
And in no way is this love of the FA Cup rekindled by Arsenal’s appearance in this season’s final. No, we have always rated it as a major trophy and it has never previously been belittled or diminished in any way shape or form, by Arsenal supporters. It was after all, a key reason for Mesut Özil joining last summer. Oh come on, why should those who believe the German was signed as part of some kind of transfer masterplan have sole rights to make wild, outlandish and unsubstantiated claims?
There was a bit in there about television coverage years ago contributing to the occasion but somehow it didn’t feel quite right in the circumstances; there’s not much call for It’s A Knockout in the Scrubs. Well, not a version that could be televised beyond the safety of a police cordon.
As Greg was more interested in what Roy had to say, it would be churlish not to start there. England’s World Cup squad did nothing to enhance their chances according to FC Bodog’s World Cup Odds and contained few surprises with Ashley Cole
unceremoniously dumped shock announcement that he was retiring from international football paving the way for Manchester United’s Luke Shaw to claim the second left back spot. The imminence of the youngster’s move to Old Trafford from the south coast, shot Arsène’s assertion that the transfer window would be quiet before the World Cup, firmly in the foot. Suggestions that Adam Lallana may move to Anfield is the sound of another bullet entering the chamber. Optimism abounds that Arsenal won’t be left behind with Bacary Sagna’s replacement identified and with Serge Aurier’s claim to be focussing purely on the World Cup – albeit in the time-honoured tradition flattered by such a big club’s interest – surely signalling his arrival at The Emirates this week for a medical. Hopefully he won’t be distracted by Yann M’vila who is still waiting to be called by the doctor for his.
Congratulations are in order to Jack Wilshere (sort of fit) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (no clue if he’s fit) on making the trip to Brazil. Well, being invited to check-in online at any rate. It wouldn’t be England if there weren’t injury scares ahead of the finals of a major tournament but with metatarsals so passé, a nation waits with bated breath to see whose twang or knack, becomes the new black. Presumably Nigel Farage will have something to say about that.
Hodgson has taken a calculated risk in the Arsenal pair. Until the FIFA confirm the squad on 5th June, any one of the twenty-two can be replaced and even then, any serious injuries which emerge before Roy’s Boys (no, that’s not an invitation for Operation Yew Tree to get involved) kick a ball in anger (or not if you’re the injured party) enable players to be replaced. With pre-Brazilian friendlies and training camps, Hodgson has plenty of time to assess recoveries. Even then replacements do not have to come from the standby list of players so there is hope that the English talent pool is not quite so shallow. Or shall we say, lapping above the ankles?
Arsenal meanwhile are focussed on nothing but the FA Cup. It took a while to register but Per Mertesacker was praising the team’s mental strength against Wigan and not Norwich,
“That was a tough game and you expect a lot from your side especially when you play against a Championship side. You think we’ll just make it but when you drop that five, 10 per cent of mental power it’s hard. When they scored the penalty everyone was not sure what was going on. Everything was questioned.
We tried really hard and it looked like we could not score at this stage and I thought something special has to come to keep up with them and to keep up with our targets.”
And that something special came when his head met Oxlade-Chamberlain’s mis-hit shot and we celebrated like loons at the release of the tension, much to the chagrin of Roy Keane who felt Arsenal shouldn’t celebrate beating a team from a lower division. This is obviously not the same Roy Keane who captained Manchester United in the 2004 FA Cup final and celebrated winning like a loon when they beat lower division Millwall 3 – 0. As doppelgängers go, the Roy Keane who is a pundit is very hard to distinguish from the Roy Keane who was player, right down to the accent.
Hull’s form since winning the semi-final has been the polar opposite of Arsenal’s. Four defeats and a draw offer many conclusive evidence that turning up will be enough. I am sure City thought the same last year. Mertesacker spoke of the confidence the players took from the win over Wigan but that has not seemed to spill into arrogance, a commendable attitude to, well, attitude. That confidence will be bolstered by a trophy and begin the push for next season. Now if one or two could be on the winning side this summer…