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FA Cup second string sides - Surely the fans deserve more?

Monday 30th January 2017
This weekend has seen a mixed bag of results with giant-killings, thrashings and somewhat pure disappointment for many football fans across England in the FA Cup.

A competition that was and still is admired as a fairy tale in the game, a hugely important Cup in English football. When you think about the Clubs that enter the Cup in the very early preliminary rounds, you head very deep into the Grass Roots of Football.

When a pub team are entering the same competition as Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea, it really is magic to most of us. So why on earth are we seeing sides like Liverpool and Southampton fielding a completely second string side and then being knocked out by an embarrassing score line? I mean, are their prices for tickets lowered to what you would pay to watch a Youth game? Absolutely not. So why are supporters wasting their money to go and watch an exciting, magical and fairy tale event in football, to only be left disappointed?
I watched Southampton take on Arsenal at home and the supporters at St Mary's were absolutely buzzing at the start of the match and singing away in a carnival-like atmosphere, the stuff dreams are made of. That was of course until the 22nd minute of the match when Danny Welbeck scored his second of the game, seemingly ending the contest before it even started.

The atmosphere turned subdued and you could tell by the faces of the fans of their beloved Club, the pure disappointment in the selection made by their Manager. Southampton fielded a perfect example of a second string side, with many youngsters featuring as well as fringe players. The most senior being Shane Long up top. For me, this is ridiculous.

I agree with Clubs giving their youngsters a chance, a run in the side and of course allowing Squad players to stake a claim in these types of competitions. After all, it's just as exciting to see what talent your Club has coming through the ranks. But they need a balance. Yes play some youth, but balance that out with regulars and seniors to avoid embarrassment and not only that, surely they want to progress in the FA Cup? It's got so much rich history and drama, surely they want to compete and go far in the best domestic Cup competition in the history of English football?

Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool also did the same, fielded majority a second string side, and was then left red-faced as his team lost 2-1 at Home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Clubs supporters were livid, having such a long time passion for this Trophy winning it many times.
My point is that fans pay good hard earned money in a society where the majority of people struggle to make ends meet, so every little penny they do have is precious. Some choose to spend that on going to see their beloved team play. Then imagine turning up to see that there was not one of your idols on display that game and the youngsters put out are destroyed by the opposition. How is that nurturing those young players? If anything that is going to hinder their development.

Play the youngsters alongside the seniors and that will only help their development, as well as keeping the fans happy and giving them something for their hard-earned money. For me, it is a no-brainer.

And as for resting players, please! These are professional athletes, all they do is train and eat well. I love football and I even pay to play in an amateur league. If you told me I could play football every day and get paid for the luxury, I'd jump at that with all I had.

Antonio Conte had it bang on with his Chelsea side sweeping away Championship Brentford with a 4-0 victory. Yes, he integrated some youngsters and fringe players, but he put some senior top performers alongside them as well for if the occasion got too overwhelming or confidence dropped.

There are many frustrated fans around this evening and rightly so.
Simon Phillips
Football Writer for the last 7 years, specialising in the English Premier League and covering a wide range of topics.

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