The Bizarre Rituals Of Mutual Loathing

The FA Cup may well be the oldest football cup competition in the world – a fact that television viewers will doubtlessly be reminded of around three hundred times over the next seventy-two hours or so – but football supporters that don’t have to habitually wipe rage-induced spittle from the corner of their mouths could well be forgiven for approaching this weekends fixtures in the Fourth Round of the competition with a degree of trepidation. The draw for this weekends matches was as kind as it was unfair to the Football Association. A flagging competition needs a “big” match in each round, and it got it in the form of a trip to Anfield for Manchester United. But this match is more than just a renewal of old rivalries and an opportunity to claim a place in the last sixteen of a venerable – if somewhat grubby, these days – cup competition. We don’t need to go over the Suarez affair or Liverpool Football Club’s terrible handling if it yet again. That much is, outside of the red half of Liverpool and the madder elements of those of the opinion that political correctness has gone mad, a given. What is, however, perhaps worth reflecting upon is the extent to which this particular football match, to be played by two national and international institutions, and which should be a showpiece...

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