What the Hell is going on? We took the field against Stoke with a kid in goal, two rookie centre backs, a centre half at left back, a lazy frog at right back, Boa and Kovac in midfield and McBenni up front. It was as if Avram was saying to Pulis, "Knock us out, please!". Yes we came through in extra time, but only thanks to ever present and so so precious Scotty Parker and the introduction of first team players Obinna and Mark Noble.
Tell me, if you were going to nominate one man to rest to save him for the Premiership, who would it be? Rob Green? Jacobsen? Gabbidon? Or Scott Parker? Never mind the risk of injury and burn out, Parker collects yellows cards at a rate of two every 3.5 games so there is the matter of a double suspension again this season to worry about. I'm not complaining about Parker playing, but I am querying the madness of resting key players from a winnable game when you are just three victories away from Wembley.
But Grant is not alone. How long is it since Newcastle won a trophy? And look at Hughton's team for the match against Arsenal last night! What a joke! No wonder Arsenal scored four times when Wenger, unsportingly, played a side resembling his first team rather than the under 15s. What a betrayal of the Geordie fans! 33,000 showed up, parting with their hard claimed benefit money, to see a reserve team trounced. No Carroll, no Barton, no Nolan...dear God, we would have beaten that team, even playing as we did in the second half on Saturday.
Villa were as stupid, and only scraped through against Burnley. Amazingly West Brom made ELEVEN changes and still thumped a very poor Leicester side but if they had lost, what a disaster that would have been!
The point is, if Arsenal and Man Utd meet ahead of the final, the door is open for a side to reach a Wembley final. How many years do fans of clubs like West Ham, Villa, Newcastle and West Brom wait for a Cup Final? Isn't football meant to be about winning trophies? Given Liverpool have an outside chance of winning the Europa League (as do Spurs if they finish third in their Champions League group) and Man City, Arsenal and Man Utd have an outside chance of winning the title, 15 clubs in the Prem started the season with only two trophies to play for - and yet managers treat one or both of those competitions with utter contempt. It is crazy, madness - and it is deeply disrespectful to the fans.
Of course it is all about money and the rewards of the Prem, but Everton are not going to win the title or get relegated, so their absolute priority should have been the cups. And the same is true of Villa and Liverpool. But two of those three are out because they picked absurdly weakened teams and Villa so nearly paid the price yesterday.
How do we feel this morning after the victory over Stoke? Great. How do Newcastle fans feel? Crushed. But it is just 5 days since the Geordies played us off Upton Park. Tell me, how has a 4-0 defeat helped the spirit inside St James' Park? How do Everton and Liverpool fans feel seeing Birmingham and Ipswich in the quarter final of the League Cup after victories over their lower division conquerors?
Will it all change now that it is two wins away from Wembley, will Grant, Houllier and company suddenly start to take the competition seriously? What years do we look back on with the deepest affection? The years we reached a cup final! Let's hope Grant goes for it 100% from now on!