BBC BLOGS - Robbo Robson
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Big business as usual

Robbo Robson | 12:22 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

Phil Neville said losing the Cup Final 'felt like relegation'. No, mate, it doesn't. Take it from a Boro fan, lad.

In 1997, we lost a Cup Final and we were relegated. The relegation felt like,er, relegation, and the losing of the Cup Final felt like losing the Cup Final. I know as a United old boy you never really had to bother about such trivialities but let me tell you, you haven't got a clue, son.

Having said that, I didn't meet one man, woman, child, pet or even numpty who wanted Chelsea to win on Saturday. Hiddink aside there were absolutely no reasons to back the Londoners.

Even your average pundit (and there are a lot of us about) tipped the Toffees to sneak a win, and that had to be about sentiment rather than logic.

Everton had beaten Liverpool, Villa, Boro, West Ham and Manchester United's crèche to get to the final. Chelsea had had one little squabble with Arsenal.
Everton players
Everton had lost Arteta, Yakubu and even Jagielka for the final. Chelsea had lost Joe Cole and a Champions League semi-final, the latter with all the class of 2am Teesside lasses tumbling out of a taxi.

Everton have a manager and a chairman who have done that thing that good managers do: built a side up slowly and steadily over the years and got players to perform at their very best for long periods. The chairman is just a fan with a bit of clout and nous.

Chelsea change coaches like Posh Spice changes outfits; they waft attaché cases full of cash under the noses of Europe's best and wait for someone to bite.

The squad is a collection of talented millionaires whose team spirit seems to crumble like an overdone flapjack whenever things go wrong. And the owner sits up in the exec boxes smirking like a demonic schoolboy as his latest toy brushes aside the competition.

It had to be Moyes's time.

Except that, man for man, Chelsea are a better side. Except that, when it's 41 degrees Celsius and you team is at its best when it pelts about the park for 90 minutes, you fear for their chances. Chelsea aren't Barca but they know how to keep the ball.

I sat with an Everton fan throughout Saturday's game (he would have gone to the match but Wembley needed them 40,000 tickets for a bunch of people who didn't give a toss who was playing, didn't they?) and as soon as Drogba equalised he virtually resigned himself to his fate.

He wasn't being disloyal or unsupportive - after Saha's opener, the quiet 44-year old bounced about the Blue Bell like a fly in a jam jar - but reality kicked in.

Even then you felt that Chelsea would just click into gear and move remorselessly forward to victory. Everton weren't bad and put a lot of effort in, but they made two chances all match and it was a comfy 2-1 in the end.

So why is it depressing? Here's why, I reckon.

There's the Big Four, right? One of them's going to win the League. Fact. (Bit inappropriate quoting Rafa there but you get my point). All of them will be in the Champions League quarter-finals. Fact. One of them will almost certainly win the FA Cupand their second team will reach the Carling Cup final.

It's not just about supporting the underdog anymore. These days you support the underclass underclass. If your team finished between fifth and 92nd and you're up against first-fourth, expect healthy support from 99% of the population.

Everton are the most successful not very well-funded team in England and they've won nowt. (Maybe Arsenal can be included as they haven't spent the sums the other three have and have won sweet Tony Adams 'n' all in the last four years.)

The inability to compete unless some bewilderingly rich someone or other who you've never heard of wraps a blindfold round his eyes and sticks a pin in your club just grinds you down.

While Man United have got the architects in for the Trophy Cabinet extension, and Rafa Benitez is preparing dawn raids for the world's finest, Moyes and co are back to the drawing-board.

In August you'll have the usual vague speculation about whether any one other than the usual suspects can end up finishing first to fourth. Villa'll threaten (but Barry might've gone), Everton'll grind (but can they keep Arteta?), Spurs'll do much better (but can they flog that Bentley and if they can will it be the first time a Bentley's been sold for the price of a 1978 Honda Accord?).

Manchester City look like the only club equipped to compete and why's that? It's not Sparky's devastating management skills I can tell you that much.

I hear the usual refrain coming back from you lot - and most of it from supporters of particular clubs- surprise, surprise - that that's life and we should get used to it.
Phil Brown
I'll never get used to it. I'll forget it sometimes when we delight in the success of a Burnley, or an AFC Wimbledon, or grimly acknowledge the achievement of a team like Hull that somehow scraped by even whilst being led by a singing Chocolate Orange - football's a charming, wonderful sport when all's said and done.

But the reason there was an extra pall of gloom over the boozer at five on Saturday was 'cos even before a ball was kicked, Everton as an entity deserved some silverware. This time last year we were praising Pompey's victory simply because it was like a long service medal for 'Arry.

Moyes has vowed to stay at Goodison to keep fighting the odds, even as wise old Guus has left the Bridge with fans desperate for more. The latest recipient of Roman's dough will be Carlo Ancellottery. I don't wish him well.

Meanwhile Middlesbrough will be getting used to life at Scunny and Posh and I'll be able to content myself with the knowledge that for one season at least we'll be on a much more level playing field with everyone else in that league. And there's something a bit reassuring about that. ,


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