Martin Keown's FA Cup highlights: Fulham and Villa's strong message
It was nice to see Premier League teams such as Aston Villa and Fulham playing strong sides. It sends a message to the players that they want to do the best they can in the competition and tells the opposition that they are not going to get an easy ride. Alex McLeish has been under a lot of pressure from the fans at Aston Villa so he knows that a good cup run can help him stay in his job. But why did Wolves boss Mick McCarthy not put his best team out at Birmingham and then take off a few players when the game was won All he has now is another fixture to play.
Marching on: Fulham beat Charlton 4-0
Arnaud Mendy's stunning goal for Macclesfield against Bolton could change his life. The FA Cup is a lot about individuals, people we’ve never heard of grabbing the limelight and maybe getting themselves moves to bigger clubs. Mendy’s goal reminded me of Justin Fashanu’s volley for Norwich against Liverpool in 1980 which won Goal of the Season. He meant it.
I want to mention the great job being done by Graham Westley. I’ve met him on coaching courses and what he has done at Stevenage is incredible – back-to-back promotions, they are in the play-off places in their first season in League One and they caused another FA Cup upset on Saturday. They knocked out Newcastle last season before losing at home to Reading but beat the Royals this time. He’s an astute, young manager. Considering what he has achieved, it’s stunning that he’s still with Stevenage. He’s the hot favourite to take the Preston job this week but he is talented enough for an even bigger post.
Golden Graham: Westley masterminded a shock
WELL DONE, TAMWORTH
I spent time with Tamworth last week and they didn’t embarrass themselves at all. What surprised me when I watched Marcus Law’s team train was how technically good they are. Within reason, players are as technically good as you tell them they are – if you tell players they aren’t good enough, they react in that way. It’s like Swansea in the Premier League.
PAOLO’S GROUP ETHIC
AS A player, Paolo di Canio always went his own way – he used to train on his own sometimes at West Ham because he preferred that. He was very much an individual but as Swindon manager he’s understanding what it’s like to be a part of a group and the collective benefit you get from that. Di Canio’s side are playing with a desire and a tempo and that is what got them the win over Wigan. He’s crazy in his reactions, as you saw at the final whistle on Saturday, but he is obviously able to control himself enough to get his message across to his players.