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Thinking back to the famous 1979 FA Cup final, it’s hard to believe 26 years have passed. But contemplating the contrasts it feels more like millions of years.

Football now is an amazing soap opera awash with money. Manchester United are worth almost a billion pounds. Arsenal are constructing a stadium at a cost of almost half of that. Those kind of sums were inconceivable in 1979. Then again, mobile phones and the idea of satellites beaming live pictures of Best Prada Outlet Italy football matches into people’s homes every day of the week were inconceivable, too – and so was the idea the FA Cup final wouldn’t be played at Wembley.

One of the most notable contrasts is that in 1979 neither club was at the top, or even close to challenging Liverpool’s dominance. Manchester United were a club to admire because of their history, but they weren’t a threat Authentic Prada Trainers in terms of winning the league, and the same could be said of us. So it’s a huge difference these days, when both clubs are expected to win the title and it’s considered a failure if they don’t.

Quality-wise, it’s hard Authentic Prada Handbags Uk to argue we were equivalent to the talent that will be on display on Saturday. Thierry Henry is probably the best in world and Wayne Apertura Outlet Prada Montevarchi Rooney is on that road. In our day, arguably we weren’t even Authentic Prada Handbags For Cheap the best players in England.

Mind you, it wasn’t easy for an Englishman to get in the team back then. In the 1979 final, two-thirds of the players were Celts, principally from Ireland and Scotland. The youth scouting policy in Britain and Ireland used to pay huge dividends, but it is very difficult for a Scot or an Irish player to get into today’s more global handbags squads. The Celtic contingent is reduced to Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher.

Another sign of the times: there wasn’t one black player on the pitch, which is incredible. Their emergence is so influential that there will be top internationals from England and France gracing this final. And let’s not forget the Are All Prada Handbags Leather arrival of the African players on the scene,represented at Cardiff by Lauren, Kolo Touré and Patrick Vieira. Go back 26 years and Africa wasn’t on the football map.

Another big difference concerns relations between the two clubs. Nowadays this is the needle game in English football. But in 1979, believe it or not, there was a healthy atmosphere between the two clubs. Honestly, no hatred between the supporters, no mind games between the managers and no bad feeling among the players. Normally there was someone (or sometimes a few) on the opposition side you detested, and vice versa. But that didn’t exist with us. There wasn’t anyone in that Man United team I found distasteful, as I did with certain individuals at other clubs. The aggression of Joe Jordan, for example, was respected rather than Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Dresses Uk hated. It wasn’t like the hostility there is today, where it looks like some of the players are not exactly mad about one another.

Everything began to change because of Manchester United’s period of dominance in the English game and Arsenal’s persistence in trying to interrupt it, firstly Authentic Prada Clutch motivated by George Graham and then the genius of Arsène Wenger.

The frenzy will start tomorrow, once the relegation issues are settled, and the press will try to whip up the animosity between the clubs. I just hope the players can keep control. I would love to see a final in which both teams play the open, attractive football they do so often. There has been a lot said about United preferring a physical approach against Arsenal, but they didn’t do too much wrong when they won 4-2 at Highbury in February. That was a compelling game and a repeat of that would be a great advert – minus the antics in the tunnel before the match and Rooney’s behaviour during it. And, from my point of view, minus the result as well.

Hopefully the mistakes we made in that game we won’t make on Saturday. Much of the impetus for us in 1979 came from the bitter experience of losing the previous final against Ipswich. I was Are Prada Mens Shoes Good majorly disappointed. I desperately wanted a winner’s medal and I gave my runners-up one away to a good friend because I didn’t want to be reminded of such a bad day.

The following year we were all very focused, we didn’t get too involved with the razzmatazz of the build-up and that showed in our performance for most of the game. We were comfortably ahead, leading 2-0 with five minutes to go. Then everything turned upside down. When United made it 2-2, I honestly felt it was going to end in a nightmare.

The emotions were so haywire, everything chopped and changed so much when Alan Sunderland popped up to make it 3-2 that it was hard to take it in. All I know was I got my hands on my winner’s medal. It meant so much. Winning the FA Cup was considered a huge success then and it made your season. It had such enormous importance and prestige. I think all that will be back on Saturday.

Even though the glitz surrounding the Champions League tends to eclipse the FA Cup’s romance, this final won’t be overshadowed. The rivalry that exists at the moment and the size of the two clubs makes this probably the biggest Cup final ever.

I wouldn’t want to be in Wenger’s shoes when he picks the team for Saturday. Does he pick Touré or Sol Campbell? I think Philippe Senderos will play because he has been outstanding in recent weeks and has proved that the experience of playing games can bring you on enormously. Does Fredrik Ljungberg come back if he’s fit, or does he select the 18-year-old Francesc Fàbregas, who has had a fabulous season for one so young? And who does Wenger pick to partner Henry – the up-and-coming Dutchman Robin van Persie of the old master in Dennis Bergkamp? Or does he pick Juan Antonio Reyes?

In the United camp they have more difficult choices. Nothing has gone right in recent weeks for Ferguson. I can’t remember a decent performance from them for a while. They will be sweating on Gabriel Heinze’s fitness because the defence is much better with him in it. Will Ferguson show faith in Wes Brown, who has had difficulties? Does he pick Fletcher or Quinton Fortune to bolster the midfield three? And the goalkeeping problems are well documented.

I’ll be sitting in the stand on Saturday wanting Arsenal to win as much now as I did then and I pray we get a similar result, but not Baby Prada Shoes Uk the same last five minutes I had to endure in 1979. Twenty-six years on I don’t think my heart would take it.

Liam Brady is Arsenal’s head of youth development


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