After a spectacular weekend of FA Cup action, I give you the thoughts of the fans I’ve encountered working at Wembley over the two semi-final battles.
At the home of football, I am part of the yellow jacket brigade welcoming and assisting customers under the arch as their eyes light up dreaming of what their day could hold.
This weekend a strong following of roughly 40,000 fans from each team had their taste of the Wembley magic (with some more experienced than others) as they roared their team on hoping of returning for the final on the 19th of May.
Saturday 21st April – SF 1: Manchester United Vs Tottenham
As Mourinho’s men completed another trademark comeback to win 2-1 in the game courtesy of Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera cancelling out Dele Alli’s early opener, I gathered the thoughts of both fanbases before and after the game.
For supporters of the Red Devils, there was an underlying surge of confidence before the game and perhaps rightly so. These fans have seen it all before, with trophies being a constant in the majority of seasons despite being off the Premier League pace in recent times.
A sea of red swarmed the London Designer Outlet next to the Stadium as the Mancunians marched towards their familiar hunting ground. Spurs may be used to calling Wembley home this season, but the raving red men made it feel as far from that as it’s been so far.
After the game, the elation was clear from the army of red-flag bearers strolling down Wembley way.
As white met red there were a few understandable disagreements between the fanbases with contrasting emotions, but for the most-part, it was scenes of happiness and celebration, with the general consensus being they had just overcome the strongest opponents left in the competition.
For Spurs fans, it was a strange occasion as their loyal fanbase were moved to typically the away side of their temporary home stadium as their ground was changed into a neutral venue.
And this strange vibe was echoed by the contrasting views of supporters before the game with generally less confidence than their counterparts but with the hope of their first FA Cup final since 1991.
It was a long time in the waiting for some, with tales of the glory days in the 60s from one who was eager to relive his childhood memories and see his side claim the trophy for the ninth time in their history.
One was keeping his feet on the ground and had harsh predictions for his side if they didn’t produce on this important occasion saying: “If we don’t win today I think the wheels will fall off of our season.”
After the game, there was a massive sense of frustration from all in white, with a feel that they’re on the verge of something special but are still not good enough to compete with the best and claim some long-awaited silverware.
Sunday 22nd of April – SF 2: Chelsea Vs Southampton
After the comeback madness of only eight days earlier at St Mary’s where Chelsea overcame the Saints to win 3-2 after going two down courtesy of a late Giroud brace, it was the Frenchman who took centre stage again in this one.
Morata backed up his strike partner to seal a comfortable win for the Blues. But what were the fans saying?
Despite a stop-start season for Antonio Conte’s men, there was a breeze of calmness over the Chelsea faithful ahead of their 18th appearance at the new Wembley, a record number of times playing on the hallowed turf as a neutral capacity.
And this calmness wasn’t a surprise, with the boys from the bridge having won 11 of their last 14 FA Cup semi-finals; quite the record.
There were predictions of 3-0, 3-1 and 2-1 from the fans I spoke to, but with the Blues having kept clean sheets in three of their five FA Cup matches this season, it was perhaps the wise who predicted the Saints faithful would have nothing to cheer about.
The Saints were marching into Wembley in high spirits, with many searching for an outlet to their poor season and demanding a passionate performance from their players.
Most remained level-headed, saying they would much rather lose this game and then have enough focus to stay in the Premier League than pile their much-needed resources into an FA Cup distraction.
At the end of the day, sorry Saints fans were looking forward to getting back to business with their final run-in seeing crucial games against Bournemouth and Swansea, as well as a far-from-straightforward game against Manchester City to see the season off.
The FA Cup final is sure to be a feisty one, with the Mourinho-Chelsea love-hate relationship still burning on.
It’s a game that could be a defining one in both United and Chelsea’s seasons with this the only potential piece of silverware left for both clubs this campaign.
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Featured Image created by: Charlie Pumfrey
Images within the article are courtesy of Getty Images.