Leicester City surprised everyone on Saturday by coming from behind to dump Spurs out of the FA Cup at White Hart Lane. As a result, the Foxes find themselves in the last sixteen of the competition whilst, languishing at the bottom of the Premier League. Now, many are opening the debate as to whether City would rather finish 17th in the Premier League or win the FA Cup.
As a fanbase, we know the club have spent years and years pining for a return to England’s top-flight. And, having experienced just over half a season back in the Premier League, I can see the perks of being here. It’s a badge of nobility to be in the top-flight, to be acknowledged, to be famous. Winning just feels that little bit better with that proud, navy lion slapped on the side of your arm. It also feels better having the £90 million windfall that comes with being in the illustrious top division. However, finishing 17th in the league ladder isn’t a trophy; it won’t go down in footballing history. It will just be another placing at the end of another league season.
In contrast, this club loves the FA Cup – it seems illogical but it’s true. I can’t think of a club in English football that loves this competition as much despite being treated so cruelly by it in the past. In recent seasons, we’ve seen 8000 of the blue army at Nottingham Forest, 6000 at Chelsea, 4000 at Stoke, even 4000 troughed up to Huddersfield on a cold January afternoon, engrossed by the meagre whiff of cup glory. There is nothing like winning a major trophy, and being the biggest bridesmaids in football, you would think our fans would know that – is there a bigger club to have never won this competition than us? In four finals, we’ve suffered four defeats, a soul-crushing record.
So, my question to those who would prefer to finish 17th over winning the FA Cup this season is; are you mad?! We have spent half of our history in the top flight but we’ve never won this tournament, the greatest domestic cup competition in the entire world. Sure, away games next season at The Valley and Ewood Park would be a big come down from this season’s league outings but winning the cup could mean an overdue shot at revenge against Atletico – well, that particular scenario is a long shot but we will be back in Europe nonetheless.
Now the competition has been blown wide open with the eliminations of Chelsea, Manchester City and of course, Tottenham Hotspur, we would be senseless not to go all out to win it. Of course, the prevailing point is; we don’t actually have to choose, we could achieve both objectives and that’s exactly what we should try to do. Neither are a distraction, neither are hindrances to the other. Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth aren’t where they are now because they won the FA Cup that’s for certain.
But if I had to choose I would say; let’s stop being a nearly club and win the FA cup, we’ve come as close as you can to the country’s two biggest honours – and now’s the time to be opportunistic. Memories of avoiding relegation will eventually dwindle in to obscurity, especially given how many relegation skirmishes we have endured as a club, but silverware on the other hand lasts eternally. So, if you really still think 17th is of greater prestige then I’m thoroughly mystified. Come on Leicester; we’re staying up and we’ll win the cup!