Even having club soccer’s richest owners cannot improve Newcastle’s pitiful record in the FA Cup.
Newcastle was humbled by a lower-league opponent in the third round of the famous old competition for the second straight year under its Saudi owners, losing at third-tier Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on Saturday.
At the same stage last year, Newcastle was beaten at home by another third-tier club, Cambridge United. Yet the northeast team was still in the early days of the new era then.
Now, it is a rising force in the Premier League, in third place and fighting to reach the Champions League.
Two other Premier League teams – Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth – were beaten by lower-league opposition in Blackpool and Burnley, respectively, on Saturday. But neither represented major shocks, given they fielded weakened lineups because top-flight survival is their priority.
Newcastle’s elimination was a big surprise, with Josh Windass scoring for Sheffield Wednesday in the 52nd and 65th minutes before Bruno Guimaraes pulled one back in the 69th.
Newcastle has advanced beyond the fourth round of the FA Cup only once since 2006 – in the 2019-20 season.
The early exit at least allows Newcastle to concentrate on finishing in the Champions League qualification positions in the league. The team doesn’t have European competitions to deal with, either.
There will be at least one non-league team in the fourth round and it’s Wrexham, the fifth-tier team with the Hollywood owners.
Wrexham, owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney since 2020, won at second-tier Coventry 4-3.
“I’m completely and totally speechless,” Reynolds tweeted to his 21 million followers. “What a club. What a town. What a win.”
Wrexham, a club from Wales, was the architect of one of the FA Cup’s greatest upsets, beating then-English champion Arsenal in the third round in 1992.
KOMPANY’S CUP LINKS
The last time Vincent Kompany was seen in the FA Cup, he was lifting the trophy at Wembley Stadium on his final appearance for Manchester City after its 6-0 win over Watford in the title match.
Now back in English soccer as manager of Burnley, he is making more memories in the famous old competition.
His team’s 4-2 win at Bournemouth didn’t come as a big surprise, given Burnley is top of the Championship and only five places lower in the pyramid.
“I think you treat the FA Cup the same as the league,” the former Belgium international said. “There wasn’t too much consideration on workload because the games were sufficiently apart. We felt we wanted to do well in the competition.”
In the other upset of the day, Forest was beaten at Blackpool 4-1.
WORLD CUP RETURNEES
Alexis Mac Allister and Harry Kane returned to English soccer after the World Cup in very different states of minds – one as a champion, the other distraught after a costly missed penalty.
They both slipped back into action seamlessly.
Mac Allister, who starred for Argentina in its run to the title in Qatar, was a halftime replacement for Brighton after his extended break back home to celebrate and scored twice in the team’s 5-1 win over second-tier Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Kane, the England striker who missed a late penalty in the loss to France in the World Cup quarter-finals, has been back for a while and has settled into a strong run of scoring form for Tottenham.
His fourth goal in four games came in Tottenham’s 1-0 win over third-tier Portsmouth in the third round. Kane exchanged a one-two with Ryan Sessegnon before curling a shot into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area in the 50th minute for his 265th goal for Tottenham, one off the club record held by Jimmy Greaves.
Kane is still looking to win a first trophy in his career, with Tottenham last claiming a major piece of silverware in 2008.
RELIEF FOR JONES
Southampton ousted fellow Premier League team Crystal Palace 2-1 with a come-from-behind win – secured by Adam Armstrong’s goal after a goalkeeper mistake – that will come as a relief for its manager.
Nathan Jones is already under pressure barely two months after replacing Ralph Hasenhuttl in charge. The result ended a run of three losses, all in the Premier League, for Southampton, with the team’s two wins under Jones coming in cup competitions.
Its next game is against Manchester City in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“The be-all and end-all is making sure that we are a Premier League team first and foremost. Any cup run is a bonus,” Jones said.
BENRAHMA DOESN’T CELEBRATE
Said Benrahma scored a long-range goal to earn West Ham a place in round four but there was a muted celebration afterward.
The goal in the 1-0 win came against his former club, Brentford, which he left in January 2021 to move to West Ham.
LEICESTER, FULHAM THROUGH
Kelechi Iheanacho scored for 2021 champion Leicester in its 1-0 win at fourth-tier Gillingham and he has 16 goals in 22 games in the FA Cup.
Fulham won at second-tier Hull 2-0.
Later, defending champion Liverpool hosted top-flight rival Wolverhampton in the last of the 22 third-round games on Saturday.
On Friday, Manchester United beat Everton 3-1 to kick off the round.