Date: 18th February 2007 at 3:40pm
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Arséne Wenger called for FA Cup replays to be scrapped after his side were held to a goalless draw by Blackburn at the Emirates in the 5th round of the competition, 4 days after they won an exhausting battle at the Reebok.

It’s hardly surprising that Wenger’s ready to attack anything that does not actually benefit his team but he does not think about anything else. Fergie pointed it out, rahter cordially.

‘Arsene is speaking for teams like ourselves, who are committed to Europe.

‘It is a fair point but I don’t think it could apply to everyone. You cannot just take replays away. For some clubs it is part of their whole existence.

‘Reading have come here today and got a draw that takes us back to their place. That is great for them.’

Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder took Wenger’s side and that’s not surprising: his side were hammered by Birmingham at home in a replay. United assistant manager Queiróz recommended a more sensible solution than extra-time and penalties in the first game: he believes the first match should go into extra time if scores are level and if there’s no winner at the end of the 120 minutes then the replay could come.

It’s better than Wenger’s suggestion that is unfair on smaller teams. Reading, for example, come to Old Trafford, equalize in the 66th minute then hold on for 24 minutes, hoping for the replay. Would they be able to keep us in bay for another 30 minutes? Unlikely. But if they can do it, they still have to face a penalty shootout away from home if we accept the Frenchman’s solution.

Basically, a team drawn away would have no choice but try to get through at the opponents’ stadium so the home teams’ advantage would be bigger than ever. And of course the world is not just about the Champions League teams. Reading’s February and March is not crowded with games, they can easily fit a replay into their duties – it causes a problem only for the big teams for whom every game is vital in the league and have the Champions League to look forward to. But we don’t want to help the big four in every possible case, do we?

Even if we are the supporters of one of these teams, we should look at what’s good for football as a whole.