FA Cup can offer salvation for under fire managers

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 22 April 2016, 10:25

The eagerly anticipated FA Cup semi finals take place this weekend, and it's fair to say that each of the four remaining managers are under differing degrees of pressure, writes The Sun's Andy Dillon (@andydillon70).

THE FA CUP has never taken on such significance as it does this weekend.

The semi finals throws together four Premier League managers all under varying degrees of pressure and looking to the oldest cup competition in the world for some much needed support.

The trophy which has been discarded by so many managers at the sharp end of English football in recent years is suddenly a means of salvation.

Funny how people turn to former loves when the chips are down.

Roberto Martinez

Everton boss Roberto Martinez is widely believed to be heading for the sack unless he can at least get his team to the Cup final by beating Manchester United in tomorrow's semi final.

Wednesday's 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool marking a stark low point of a season in which the Spaniard's results, style and popularity at Goodison Park has been on a slow decline.

How he needs a lift at Wembley tomorrow evening by galvanising his demoralised players to see of Man Utd.

For their part the Cup is a lifeline for boss Louis van Gaal.

Widespread speculation that he is to be replaced by Jose Mourinho in the summer is not going away - it is in fact gathering steam.

A top four finish and Champions League football next season is obviously the top priority at Old Trafford - but winning the cherished Cup will sure make his position that bit stronger in the eyes of the fans who are so quick to deride the Dutchman.

It may also just make it that bit harder for the directors to sack him in the summer if the Cup is being displayed on a shelf in the boardroom decorated in red ribbons.

And for those who were at Upton Park last week to see Man Utd beat the odds and beat West Ham in a quarter final replay were left under no illusion of what it means to the supporters.

Louis van Gaal

How ironic that the club which infamously withdrew from The FA Cup in 2000 because of other commitments are now so reliant on it to save them from another wasted season.

On Sunday Watford take on Crystal Palace at the opposite end of the geographical and glamour scale to Man Utd's battle with Everton.

Watford boss Quique Flores has been forced to answer the genuine concerns that he may be sacked despite a remarkable effort this season.

Breakdown in communication with the club's bosses and the ludicrously high expectations of chairmen have put the hippest boss in England under ridiculous pressure just when he needs it least.

But as he said after his team lost 3-1 at West Ham on Wednesday ‘the Cup is there for us to enjoy'.

But again it may also be there to stick two fingers up to the people who at Vicarage Road who want him out even though he has guided Watford to Premier League safety with four games still to go and got them to Wembley.

The fact that Flores chose to rest seven key players ahead of Sunday's Cup semi final tells you everything about where his priorities lie now.

And finally to Alan Pardew at Palace. Now safe-ish on 39 points he can sit back and relax. A new contract for him is waiting to be signed in chairman Steve Parish's office a great comfort.

But don't forget that just a few weeks ago Palace were on the slide and it didn't take long for the fans down in South London to start ringing radio stations and demand his head on a plate in the most absurd way.

It was Pardew himself who admitted that while his team couldn't buy a point in the Premier League, his players somehow got themselves up for the Cup.

It also helped save his skin as it is hard to bin a boss halfway along the road to Wembley.

Of course only one team is going to win it but it's typical of footballing fate that the futures of so many bosses could be so heavily influenced by one little old silver pot.


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