Wise Men Say: Cup crowds prove that it's all about the Premier League now
So the highlight of the game on Saturday then, was undoubtedly the ... erm'¦
Then there was the time when ... erm. And of course, the thingy where ... erm…
It would be easy to dismiss the dour 0-0 at the weekend as being symbolic of the whole demise of what was once a fantastic cup competition.
But I would put a wager on that the ones moaning about this fact the most were probably sat at home deciding not to bother.
We can bemoan modern football and the greed of the Premier League all we like, but attendances reflect that people are far more emotionally invested in the glitz and glam that is top-flight English football than they are the FA Cup.
Times have changed and unless the FA and Premier League work together to make it possible that these games can become included in season cards then I doubt it there’ll be a revival any time soon.
The truth is that modern football, and having a new stadium, has benefited Sunderland.
Also, we can romanticise the good old days all we like, but when the Black Cats bowed out of this competition to a star-studded Arsenal side in their last season at Roker Park, there were 15,000 people there – fewer than there were on Saturday.
Roker Park was restricted in capacity by then, of course, but there were an additional 6,000 packed in a few days before against the same opposition.
Six thousand in those days, with the crowd and ground we had, was a significant number. I was 16 back then and perhaps am part of the last generation who can claim to even remember the magic of the FA Cup and all that.
Bizarrely, had this game been in Burnley at the weekend, we’d have taken a good few thousand down.
Anyway, I’m digressing somewhat and then a little more. Maybe it’s because what we did see on the pitch on Saturday brings more questions than answers.
Denayer was excellent at the back, but do we seem too thin in central midfield to take him out of there?
John O’Shea was brought on in the second half as we went three at the back, but if this is the plan going forward why didn’t we try it for longer?
Why did Moyes risk so many first-teamers?
Because he wants us to try and go on a cup run?
Or because the youngsters we have simply aren’t good enough?
Depressingly, I think it’s the latter.
Take a look at where the likes of Mikael Mandron et al are now and that shouldn’t surprise you.
There’s also some irony in the fact that fans complain season in, season out, about managers not playing strong sides in the cup and when we finally get one who’s prepared to do so, it comes at a time when we’d all have fully understood if he allowed the weakness of his squad to dictate a decision to effectively write it off for a year.
Who’s up for a midweek trip down to Burnley then?
* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from David Moyes. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes