Survival is more important than cup glory for Sunderland

Sunderland fans celebrate Fabio Borini's goal in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley against Manchester City
Sunderland fans celebrate Fabio Borini's goal in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley against Manchester City
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Has the cup started to lose some of its shine?

As a kid, and even as an adult, the FA Cup was always held in great reverence, and put on the highest pedestal by English football fans.

Fabio Borini scores his team's goal during the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley

Fabio Borini scores his team's goal during the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley

Even football supporters around the world recognised it as a special competition, but the shine has definitely dulled in recent years.

That’s not to say that we don’t all still love a cup run.

We saw first hand in March 2014 just how special the journey can be. It was a truly magical weekend (if not the result) and an experience for those of us lucky enough to be there that will live long in the memory.

Last time our beloved Black Cats had FA Cup success at Wembley I spent the 90 minutes in my pram in front of the TV at my grandparents’ house, resplendent in a red and white woolly hat and scarf knitted by my nana.

My parents had nicked off to the cup final.

At six months and four days old, the magic of that day should probably have been lost on me. But that win over Leeds United remains the one major success that Sunderland have achieved in my 43 years on this earth.

Perhaps the paucity of success that has followed is the reason why that day remains so special for the red and white faithful.

Perhaps it is the fact that the achievement was such a huge one, that the Wembley win is still a beacon of hope for us supporters.

Perhaps it is a mixture of both.

Despite having no memories of that day apart from the photographs and footage I have seen since, and the tales that have been regaled to me over the decades, that win seems like part of my Sunderland-supporting life.

So then shouldn’t the game with Arsenal this weekend see that ‘magic of the cup’ sparkle to life?

Not a chance.

It has nothing to do with the opposition or how tough the game will be. Sadly, it’s all about the money.

Not the cost of travelling back to the capital so soon after Christmas, no it’s the Premier League riches I’m on about.

There are two sides of every argument, and you could make a case saying a cup run would be good for the club.

After all, going back to 2014, that cup journey breathed new life into our survival bid that year.

But I don’t think Sam Allardyce will risk too many of his stars down at the Emirates, feeling that concentrating on Premier League survival is his only goal. It’s hard to disagree.

Yes, I’d love us to win a trophy in my lifetime. Yes, I’d love for us to be fighting for success on all fronts.

But the reality is very different. For me, sadly, this season’s cup dream was over before it even started.

That’s not down to lack of respect for this glorious old competition, it’s down to the sad fact that mere survival is now more important than success.

Winning the FA Cup, or Capital One Cup wouldn’t bring the same riches that just staying in the English top flight will bring this season.

Most of us have bought into the wonderful world of Sky, and I include myself in that.

I’ve helped line Rupert Murdoch’s pockets with my Sky Sports’ subscription.

And as they and others continue to pour millions upon billions into the Premier League then for those of us who support someone other than the big guns, survival will continue to be more important than cup glory.

It’s rather gloomy picture as we head into an FA Cup weekend.

But hopefully the love of the cup is still strong in some, and despite the odds they might just ‘Dare to Dream.’

Keep the faith.