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Mid-table sides have nonsensical attitude to FA Cup

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Southampton's Portuguese defender Jose Fonte

Southampton's Portuguese defender Jose Fonte

Southampton's Portuguese defender Jose Fonte

Southampton are eighth in the Premier League table. They are 15 points clear of the relegation zone with just 12 games remaining. They are six points behind and have played a game more than Everton in a sixth-place battle which may provide a Europa League qualification that nobody wants.

There is absolutely nothing to play for in Southampton's season. On Saturday, they went out of the FA Cup after fielding a significantly weakened team against Sunderland. The six changes from their last Premier League game saw star players Jay Rodriguez, Jose Fonte and Morgan Schneiderlin left out. What is going on here?

Newcastle, a team that haven't won a trophy since 1969 have made similar nonsensical decisions in recent years.

The romantic notion of the FA Cup is as tiresome as any football cliche.

Commentator Clive Tyldesley reacted to every display of player effort in the Manchester City v Chelsea game with something along the lines of "Who says the FA Cup doesn't matter?" Perhaps Clive doth protest too much. But surely for Southampton and Newcastle, it should matter a great deal.

Football needs to have a serious look at itself. If finishing a respectable eighth in a league of 20 teams is more important than winning a trophy, then why does the competition exist? Neatly wrapping up a season in mid-winter is now quite clearly what many Premier League clubs set out to achieve.

Top teams with winning traditions try to win these tournaments, especially when they get in position to do so. There's little glory for Chelsea in FA or League Cups but a club like that knows they play football to win competitions, not to merely exist.

Wigan might have been foolish to pursue Cup glory last year instead of focusing on survival but wasn't that one day in Wembley better than 10 years of Premier League scrapping?

Southampton fans should think about that as they pay into St Mary's for the next three months of glorified exhibition games.

Irish Independent