Pitchside Europe

Facts: 7 FA Cup truths – Empty seats, Keano, Webb and Jose’s failure

1. The magic of the FA Cup is more Paul Daniels than David Blaine these days

There are cliches in football, then there are cliches in football. We love the term the 'magic of the Cup', but it seems that our appetite for the world's most famous knockout tournament is not shared by others, particularly Sunderland, Southampton or Swansea. The FA Cup magic we think about belongs to the days of Paul Daniels rather than the era of David Blaine. So what do you prefer? Paul 'Now that's Magic' Daniels in his Bunco Booth? Or Davie 'frozen in time' Blaine? Do you prefer the league, or the Cup?

As little Paulie used to say alongside the lovely Debbie McGee back in the day: "You'll like this, not a lot, but you'll like it." To suggest Premier League clubs are really interested in the old pot is an illusion Blaine would be proud of. All we see nowadays are vanishing supporters and players. Sunderland made nine changes from their normal line-up in a ghostly 1-0 win over Southampton, who rested Jay Rodriguez, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jose Fonte. Goodness knows why as Mauricio Pochettino's side are well out of the relegation zone. But did anybody really care?

Only 16,777 turned up at the Stadium of Light to watch it. Swansea subscribed to similar behaviour which brings us to our next truth...

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2. Roy Keane is not going to meet Garry Monk for a game of darts down his local any time soon

Call it a spot of 'monkey business', but Swansea appeared to visit Everton with one arm tied behind their back. The Swans lost 3-1 at Goodison Park, a highly predictable return when you consider Jose Canas, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernandez were the only regulars to retain their place in the side that drew 1-1 at Stoke in the league.

Swansea manager Monk said he had to make changes ahead of Thursday night's Europa League last 32 first leg with Napoli. "When you have got seven games in 21 days, it is impossible to play the same 11 in every game. I can only judge the boys on the week I have had and their attitude has been magnificent, every one. From the first day, I said everyone would play and I was true to my word."

Such words were not enough to placate watching ITV pundit Roy Keane who derided Monk's policy as shameful. Say what you see, Roy.

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3. Manchester City were the big winners of the weekend

City's 2-0 win over Chelsea was easier than anyone could have expected, especially after falling to a 1-0 defeat in the Premier League to Jose Mourinho's side at the Etihad Stadium 12 days earlier.

Goals in each half from Steven Jovetic and Samir Nasri were enough for Manuel Pellegrini's side. While the draw for the quarter-finals threw up a match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates, City have to face holders Wigan at home.

Fair enough, they lost to Wigan in last season's FA Cup final, but that was then and this is now. Pellegrini is not Roberto Mancini, and Wigan are a Championship outfit, no longer Premier League material.

The semis beckon for Pellegrini's imposing side who are now just 25/1 shots to win the quadruple. Even at those odds, we fancy a slice of that action.

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4. Howard Webb made his worst (non) decision in senior football

Howard the sitting duck. Referee Webb departed the Emirates Stadium having made one of the worst calls of his life.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went through the back of Luis Suarez with a challenge that BT Sport pundit Andy Gray compared to an assault yet the watching Webb somehow decided to keep his whistle silent. A bizarre decision by Webb, who should probably wear a wig if he visits Liverpool in the near future.

He should also have sent off Steven Gerrard in the second half for a second bookable offence, but the footage of the Suarez non-decision will haunt Howard for some time.

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5. Arsene Wenger is not quite the failure Jose Mourinho made him out to be

Having being described as "specialist in failure" by Mourinho before the weekend's fifth round ties, it was a perfect moment for his old nemesis Wenger to prove he still has what it takes to manage a side to victory when it really matters.

"I don't want to go into those silly, disrespectful remarks," said Wenger of the Mourinho comments. "The only thing I know is that it's more embarrassing for Chelsea than for me."

Arsenal were put on the rack by Liverpool, but somehow found a way to win which is all that really counts in the final analysis. Arsenal are three wins away from a first trophy since 2005. And they don't have Mourinho's Chelsea to worry about after their 2-0 defeat at City.

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6. Jose's managerial mind games don't really work..if they ever did

Much was made of good old Jose's mental masterclass in leading his Chelsea side to a 1-0 win at Manchester City last week, but that only works when your players play for you. Chelsea were pretty dismal in losing 2-0 at City in the FA Cup. They didn't manage a single shot at goal worthy of the name which said enough about their performance.

Pellegrini and Wenger are not huge fans of Mourinho and neither will be too displeased to see Mourinho struggle this week, next week or this season. At least you can never accuse Mourinho of getting too chummy among the managerial fraternity. But these mental mind games are more or less tosh. It always comes down to players. And Mourinho's let him down at the weekend.

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7. Sheffield United fans will be supporting Sheffield Wednesday for the first time

The reward for Sheffield United's 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest in the fifth round is a potential Steel City derby with Sheffield Wednesday in the last eight.

With home advantage at Brammall Lane and United looking to avenge their 2-1 defeat (above) to a Chris Waddle-inspired Wednesday some 21 years in the semi-final at the old Wembley, will any United fans in their right minds be wanting Charlton to win at Wednesday in the fifth round? We don't think so.

There is every chance United diehards will be willing on Wednesday. Only so they can have the chance to win local bragging rights that may well last for another 21 years in South Yorkshire.