Clubs such as Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton, who are often caught up in relegation struggles, often try to get knocked out of cup competitions as soon as possible, in order to concentrate on their attempts to secure another season of mid-table mediocrity.
Their manager – normally a proponent of no-nonsense football such as Sam Allardyce – will field three under-15 players in midfield against a team like Notts County, cheating fans of their annual dream of Cup glory, and diminishing the achievement of any small team that does manage a giant-killing, before saying in a press conference ‘the Cup wasn’t our priority this year’.
This tactic ensures that, although they will never be able to tell their grandchildren about the magical day they went to Wembley for the FA Cup Final, fans will be instead be able to regale them with stories of finishing fifteenth six years in a row.
Arsenal are widely blamed for encouraging the use of weakened teams.
The Gunners are reluctant to trouble their first-team players for any Cup game, but while their Under-16s are good enough to give a decent account of themselves, it's embarrassing when the likes of Wigan try to copy their example and field an assortment of local school children, coaching staff and fans.