Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sweet FA

March 8th 2008 was a great day for Schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude, quite simply, is a German expression meaning ‘taking pleasure from the misfortune of others’. In football, Schadenfreude takes place on an almost daily basis. How many times have you been at a match and been delighted to hear that your arch rivals have lost, even if it has no barring on the fortunes of your own side?
Yesterday’s FA Cup results are a fine example of this. Up and down the country, fans were united in their unconfined joy to see the Salford Bay Rowdies and CSKA Fulham surprisingly both crash out against unfancied opposition, thus sparing us another snorefest that was last year’s final between the two sides.

At Old Trafford, The Rowdies dominated an extraordinary match against ‘arry’s Pompey side but profligacy, heroic defending and dodgy refereeing saw them lose out to a late Sulley Muntari penalty after Milan Baros was felled my Tomasz Kuszczak.

Over the past few weeks, L’Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been labelled a whinger, moaner etc in the aftermath of the infamous Taylor-Eduardo incident. Many ignored the fact that Wenger retracted his outburst and chose to crucify him as if he is the cause for all the wrongs in the world. Meanwhile Martin Taylor was lauded as some kind of Martyr. The whole disgusting episode just reinforced the idea that fans, media and pundits alike choose to prioritise petty footballing rivalries over common sense and the fact a professional footballer was nearly crippled.

My point? Simply that I await the fall-out of Sir Taggart’s and Golum’s (Quiroz) rantings about the referee Martin Atkinson and the borderline slanderous remarks and Keith Hackett. Will they be slated in the same way Wenger was? Unlikely.

Sir Taggart’s main area of contention was the fact his side weren’t awarded a penalty during the early exchanges. While it probably was a bad decision, does anyone really believe that it changed the game? The Rowdies had many chances to win the game and didn’t take them. To single out that one incident is ridiculously short-sighted. As for the complaints about bad tackles, I love the way Wayne Rooney’s horrible lunge on Niko Kranjcar was conveniently ignored by The Rowdies and the press alike.

But that’s not to take away from the brilliant Pompey defending. Sol Campbell has had an interesting relationship with The Rowdies in his career. He once scored a brace in a 2-2 draw for Spurs and won the title at Old Trafford in his first season at L’Arse. However, he has also received two seperate FA bans for incidents in matches against The Reds (the first of which costing him an FA Cup final appearance) and was wrongly adjudged to have fouled Wayne Rooney in the infamous match that ended The Gunners’ record unbeaten run.

Today, the England man can smile after exacting a measure of revenge by putting in arguably his best performance since joining Portsmouth two summer’s ago.

Meanwhile, in sunny Yorkshire, the football story of the season was about to unfold as Championship strugglers Barnsley were preparing to take on CSKA Fulham.

Having beaten Liverpool at Anfield in the last round, I very much doubt that anyone thought Lightning would strike twice. Unfortunately for CSKA, The Tykes were very much of the opinion that it does!

CSKA couldn’t get into their stride on a poor pitch and Barnsley probably had the better chances in the first half. Unfortunately, their finishing was very much of Championship standard.

The hapless Kayode Odejayi was booed by his own fans last week after just 2 goals in some 30-odd appearances since joining The Tykes last summer.
Of course he was going to score the winner.

Cue some real backs to the wall defending in closing minutes and a pitch invasion by some very happy Yorkshiremen at the final whistle.

While it was undoubtedly Barnsley’s day, CSKA need to take a good long hard look at themselves. For the second time in a matter of weeks, they’ve failed to show up in an important cup game and all the recent talk of Quadruples has fallen shorter than even their diminutive manager.

Avram Grant has lost games against The Rowdies, L’Arse, and the two recent cup games. While he has gone about his business in the league and Champions League fairly unnoticed, his ability to handle pressure in the ‘Big Games’ is questionable. He’s failed all the big tests he’s had to face so far and while I feel the criticism he gets from spoilt CSKA fans to be somewhat unfair, he’s certainly does not look up to the task of fulfilling Peter Kenyon’s world domination dream.

The Barnsley win was particularly satisfying coming off the back of John Terry’s boastful assertion earlier in the week that CSKA can ‘play anyone off the park’.

So after years of putting up with The Rowdies and more recently, CSKA dominating English football and churning out matches like last year’s cup final, it will be a breath of fresh air on Saturday May 17th to see a couple of new faces battling for the famous old trophy.

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