FORGET my earlier wild speculation based on random bits of paper pulled out of an Ayresome Park mug by primary school children…. it’s a Riverside reunion with cardiff and with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, possibly the only man in football who could realistically wear Mido’s shorts without them flapping like a tea clipper in full sail.
Yes it would have been nice to draw Bristol Rovers or Barnsley – realistically they have shot their bolt – but come on, Boro playing a mid-table Championship outfit at home for a place in Wembley. What more can you ask for? If Boro hold their nerves and play to their potential now we can realistically think about Wembley. I know you shouldn’t because it may put the mockers on and the Blades could yet spoil it but go on, dare to dream.
Here’s the wild speculative bit I rattled off yesterday. It’s exactly the kind of perceptive, scientific and uncannily accurate stuff I get paid for …
BORO will travel to Barnsley in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Exclusive. If we see off Sheffield United in the replay Boro face a fourth successive away day with a semi-final trip to Wembley beckoning. No, not just wishful thinking. That was the generous way the folded bits of paper came out in a tense mock draw staged at the plush Vickers Towers headquarters of the Acklam FA. It is as scientific as you can get. Picture the scene:
“Elizabeth, you will draw the home teams. William, you will draw the away teams. William, can you have a little feel of the balls and assure the viewers at home that they are of equal weight and size and that none of them are either excessively warm or cold or have any magnetic or other qualities making them easy to distinguish? Then we’ll begin…
“These are the numbers you will need to keep an eye out in this exciting draw for the last eight:
1 Bristol Rovers
2 Cardiff City
3 Sheffield United or Middlesbrough
5 Manchester United
7 West Bromwich Albion
“With just two of the big guns in there, two Premier League also rans and four obscure teams from the depths who could cause the TV bean-counters to have a coronary, anything could happen. Anyone who avoids Manchester United and Chelsea will fancy their chances of at least one trip to Wembley…… Elizabeth…
“Number 5 … Manchester United ….. (no, no, no, please no) … will play…. number 1…. Bristol Rovers (well, they are out but it’s a big pay day for them and that is one hot spot avoided.)
“Number 2 …. Cardiff City…. (don’t fancy that, long trip and retro hoolie fans plus JFH with a point to prove) … will play…. number 6…. Portsmouth.
“Number 2…. Barnsley …. (come on, come on, come on)… will play…. (come on) …. number 3 (YESSS!) Sheffield United or Middlesbrough (get in, Wembley here we come!)
“And finally… (who cares) number 7… West Brom… will play … number 8, Chelsea (Come on Mogga). And that concludes the draw for the sixth round of the FA Cup. Thankyou children.”
**Please note, this mock draw is not a contract and neither this blog nor the Evening Gazette will accept any responsibility for transport arrangements or large wagers entered into on the basis of the information contained within. It does however show how easily the Road To Wembley could open up for Boro if only the FA can come up with the same pairing.
In truth, so long as we can avoid number 5 and number 8 then anything the draw throws up is winnable. The next hardest is Portsmouth away and we’ve won there already this season. The banana skins might be Tony Mowbray’s West Brom, we played them twice last season and only just squeezed through so they will fancy their chances, especially James Morrison. We’ll see what the real balls serve up.