Monday, 22 February 2016

Does cup defeat make Premier League survival any easier?

The big discussion during the BBC's coverage of the fifth round FA Cup match between AFCB and Everton was whether it was right for Eddie Howe to field a weakened side. In hindsight, Eddie may feel that he would have liked to have given some other players a place in the side seeing how tight the game was, but would winning the game have been a big hindrance to AFCB's plans for staying in the Premier League? After all, it is only three extra rounds and the possibility of one replay after the fifth round.
Put away the FA Cup signs for another season.
You might ask Tony Pulis if he was pleased whether AFCB went out to Everton in the Cup. I am sure he would have hoped that the Cherries had continued their run and lost their way in the league. None of the other bottom clubs were through to the fifth round so it is an even fight from here on you would say between the bottom seven clubs for survival. I write this just as Crystal Palace have beaten Spurs in the cup, and while some will say Palace can afford to flirt with the FA Cup being nearer to safety, I say good on Pardew for having a go to try and win it. 
Tommy had a good game on Saturday, but he will now want success in the league.
Does it really become a distraction though? The prime example was Wigan Athletic that won the cup only to get relegated in the 2012/13 season. It was an unusual result and for them to beat Man City I the final was a great achievement that will stay in the thoughts of their fans for years to come. 

I was asked by an Ipswich fan who is a friend if I was disappointed about AFCB going out of the cup this season having been so close to getting to the quarter-finals. I shook my head and said no. While it would have been great to get to Wembley, I had not let myself get carried away with thoughts of Tommy Elphick lifting a trophy two seasons in a row. To see AFCB get well beaten by sides like Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City this season who still have eyes on the FA Cup there is not much need to get carried away with AFCB reaching the last 16 I suppose. It has been good though be involved in the cups and to get past a few rounds, but if I am honest I'd have been prepared for Eddie to play more of the U21s against Everton, if the ticket prices could have been kept down to £15 for adults. Paying £32 though was steep when many first team players were missing. Was he disrespectful to the cup? I guess it depends on whether you feel that the first team is a 25-man squad or an 11-man team with two or three subs. The game has changed in terms of importance and the FA Cup has certainly slipped.

Alan Shearer may well be mystified by why Eddie Howe selected to rest some players, but if one or two of those players had been injured in the game against Everton then they would potentially be unavailable for some of the remaining league games. The focus is clear now for the team. They have one objective and 12 games to get as many points as they can. It is a mini-season that can provide a platform for several years in the Premier League and Eddie Howe was not going to risk that for one FA Cup match when the rewards for staying up include another crack at the cups next season. 

These decisions are made between manager, owners, chairman and the boardroom, but it is a shame that the club does not feel in a position to field it's best team to get to an FA Cup quarter-final.

Survival See my view on AFCB's hopes for staying up in the Observer along with other fans' views from the bottom eight in the Premier League.

Podcast heaven!
I can't believe how lucky we all are at AFCB to have two podcasts coming out this week. The first is already out at All Departments and the second will be out later this week when Back of the Net releases its first podcast.

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