Opinion: FA Cup: it wasn’t that important

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Going by the squad out there on Sunday and Eriksen rested you could see that that game wasn’t a priority for Pochettino. Don’t get me wrong, he wanted to win that match, but not at any expense. He expected the underlings to go out there and win it for him/ us, but a stronger team wasn’t an option. He regarded the league and Champions league much more significant. The Watford game on Wednesday was a higher priority.

So we lost. But the good news is that we shall go out and win the Champions League and Premier league and everybody will be happy (at the same time pigs might fly, and I become the Pope). So, there you have it.
Sorted! Nobody is going to be upset, because we are Tottenham and we have faith!

For those that don’t know: Selhurst (the home of Crystal Palace FC) is a London suburb in the Borough of Croydon 7.8 miles. The area is bounded by South Norwood, Croydon and Thornton Heath. Selhurst is named after the Anglo Saxon for “dwelling in a wood”. Evidence of a Saxon settlement was found when the railway station was built. The land was once owned by Henry VIII.

The composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) lived at 30 Dagnall Park and the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) lived on Tennison Road. Conan Doyle was famous for creating Sherlock Holmes and other works.

For the match, I went to Goodmayes on the Saturday, stayed the night and then left the next day at 11ish for Selhurst Park; Newbury Park to Earls Court and then to Norwood Junction. I arrived at 12.45 pm.
Waited for the Polish Yeha Noha Café & Bar to open, got a table and waited for Martin to arrive. Had a meal and a glass of wine (or two) and then the other Martin joined us. About 3ish we made our way to the stadium.

Got our programmes and then into the stadium. I have been often to Selhurst Park, and when you go into the way end, you are jam-packed in like sardines. Finally, I got to my seat, but I noticed that Martin was standing by one of the support beams and I went over to stand with him. I have said this often before; when you stand, the seats and seating numbering is irrelevant as people go and stand where they like, which crushes everybody tightly together. Another Hillsborough disaster waiting to happen. And of course, people stood in between the seats. If an accident did happen because of the crush, then that will be looked at after the event (deaths maybe). Until then, turning a blind eye is the done thing.

To the match…

We went out of our second knockout competition in four days after defeat by Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fourth round at Selhurst Park. Having lost a Carabao Cup semi-final to Chelsea on penalties on Thursday, Spurs were 2-0 down inside 35 minutes.

Connor Wickham marked his first start since November 2016 with a goal before a penalty by ex-Spurs midfielder Andros Townsend doubled the lead. We missed a penalty before half-time when Kieran Trippier blazed wide (bless him!).

It was our third miss from the spot in two games after Lucas Moura and Eric Dier failed in Thursday’s shootout at Stamford Bridge as we went out of the EFL Cup.

A much-changed Tottenham side were lacklustre against Palace. Or putting it another way, we wanted it, just didn’t want it as much as them. They progress to the 5th Rd and maybe beyond, we go for a top-four spot and hope to be in the Final of the Champions League, so both teams will end the season on a high (or low).

On the few occasions we did create serious chances, we could not find a way past Julian Speroni, with the 39-year-old Argentine keeper making crucial saves to keep out Georges-Kevin N’Koudou and Fernando Llorente. To be honest, once we got near the goal mouth, we looked confused. We also gave away too many passes.

Palace fans celebrated wildly at the final whistle after a first win over us since 2016 saw them advance to the fifth round for the first time since the 2015-16 season, when they went on to reach the final.
What next for us?

The FA Cup was seen as our most realistic chance of winning a trophy, as we failed to reach the EFL Cup final, sit nine points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League and face an awkward last-16 Champions League tie with Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund.

With Harry Kane and Dele Alli injured and Son Heung-min absent after international duty with South Korea, we failed to score for only the third time in 36 league and cup games this season.
Pochettino made seven changes, with French winger NKoudou – making his first start for the club since December 2017 – among those given a chance to impress.

So we left the stadium with nothing really much to say other than think of what could have been? After Martin and I departed I talked to other Tottenham supporters making their way home, and they seemed to have the same thoughts; that Pochettino didn’t want that competition, or the league cup competition, as much as a high league placing or Champions League final.

After getting a cup of tea and something to eat at Goodmayes I left for home, reaching there at 10 pm.
We will go to the new stadium with no trophies, other than a top-four spot (hopefully). So that is how we will move swiftly between Wembley and the Tottenham Stadium. But then again, there is always next season (and if not then, the season after… and after… and after… and after…).

So there you have it. Another competition knocked out, another dream shattered… but there is always the future. COYS!

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In the 90's, I was a writer for many of the top Spurs Fanzines (The Spurs, Spur of the Moment, MEHSTG and many others). A Spurs loyalist since the 60/61 season and now a season ticket holder (Premium). I run a Spurs Facebook page (“Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ voice” and co-run another one with Don Scully called “Tottenham Hotspur FC: Inside Track”). There is also a Spurs Twitter account (@HotspurVoice). I travel with Spurs to away games (including Europe). I have my a Blog (My blogging travels with Tottenham Hotspur Premium). The articles that appear on the blog also appear on SpursWeb and other applications.

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