The fire in Zaha’s belly that could spell trouble for Manchester United

<span>Photograph: Reuters</span>
Photograph: Reuters


Sometimes we can forget how important Big Cup is to some people. Just ask misty-eyed Jacob Murphy, who looked like he was floating on air during the famous pre-match anthem before Newcastle’s opening match at San Siro, like a man steadying himself at the altar before the bride arrives, or simply watching that Rustlers burger cooking in the microwave. Just ask the Arsenal fans Football Daily chanced upon down the road at St Pancras earlier on Tuesday, who have waited seven long years for their team’s next Big Cup away-day and appeared determined to celebrate by drinking some top-shelf specials before 9.30am. Of course, one of the best things about taking the Eurostar is their policy on taking liquids through customs. As everyone (including Dennis Bergkamp) is well aware: trains > planes. Mikel Arteta should have known better.

Just ask Wilfried Zaha, who gave up both the opportunity to further his status as a Crystal Palace legend (by staying in south London) and the opportunity to feather his nest with extraordinary amounts of coin (by going to Saudi Arabia) to sign for Galatasaray. Presumably not because he has always dreamed of playing in Turkey and not because he chose the most lucrative offer (his wages in Istanbul are lower than both Palace’s £200,000 a week proposal and the Saudi offer), but because: Big Cup.

As fortune would have it, Zaha returns to England on Tuesday to face his former side, Manchester United, who are still reeling from Saturday’s home defeat to … yep, Palace. The Ivory Coast international had rather a rotten stint as a United player from 2013-15, in which he managed just 167 minutes across two-and-a-half years, but doesn’t feel like he has anything to prove on his return. “I’ll be honest, when you look at my face do you think I am bothered at all? No,” he tooted, channelling his inner Lauren Cooper.

“Realistically I think I went through a phase [at United] where you either build from it or you die out from it,” he added. “And me personally, I was never going to die out from it. It built my character. I was determined to not let my career die out because I went somewhere and it didn’t work out. I was just determined to reach where I wanted to reach and I am here today.” Zaha played a key role in Galatasaray’s first Big Cup game, coming off the bench to help salvage a 2-2 draw against FC Copenhagen with a brilliant assist for their 88th-minute equaliser. Manager Okan Buruk would be wise to start him at Old Trafford, given the winger seems to have as much fire in his belly as those Arsenal fans. It could be a bad night to be Diogo Dalot.


Join Niall McVeigh at 8pm (all times BST) for red-hot Big Cup updates on Manchester United 2-1 Galatasaray, while John Brewin will be on hand at the same time for Lens 1-3 Arsenal.


“Throughout the past seven years my wife and I have been on an immensely challenging journey with fertility issues. After years of trying and many failed rounds of IVF, my wife and I were fortunate enough to welcome the birth of our daughter in 2021. I have loved every minute of being a dad and consider it my greatest achievement in life. After experiencing some more struggles and heartache with fertility treatment, we have recently received the amazing news that our family is growing and we will be expecting twins in 2024. Given our past and how hard we have fought for this, along with the challenges that will come with having twins and a two-year-old now seems like the right time to give my focus and attention to what is the most important thing in my life – my family” – ex-Celtic Socceroo Tom Rogic has hung up his boots aged 30 to focus on being a top, top, parent instead.

Tom Rogic
Good luck, Tom. Photograph: Aap Aap/Reuters


Just to add my thanks and tribute to Francis Lee in that great Manchester City side of the 1970s. As a regular supporting Swindon Town in the 1960s, we knew Mike Summerbee’s talents only too well and followed his progress to City eagerly. With Lee, Colin Bell and others, he was in good company of special footballing talent. Thanks Franny for the many happy moments – even when ‘getting your retaliation in first’ with those nice Leeds gentlemen of that age” – Jeremy Foxon.

Surprisingly, your list of ‘great innovations’ that Sweden has given to the world (yesterday’s Football Daily) did not include Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Wow, that’s a brave call. I wouldn’t want to be Football Daily walking down a dark street in Malmö or Gothenberg. The disrespected Zlatan might want some quality time with you” – Mike Wilner.

I’m no fan of conspiracy theories on the whole, but think on it. Match officials are likely predominantly in their 40s, and likely grew up in a provincial town in the 1980s. They have sufficient and nerdy love of the game not only to train as referees, but so also to diligently and loyally follow Smalltown United, only to be taunted every Monday morning by the kind of insufferable, never-even-been-on-the-M62 Liverpool enthusiasts one found in abundance in regional classrooms circa 1986. Now, more than 35 years on, they finally have their chance at revenge on all those remembered smirking faces. I know I’d take it. It’s a more interesting story than the one we’ve got, anyhow. Bring on the audio – ‘This one’s for you ‘Big’ John [Snip – Football Daily Lawyers], and you can shove a Wham bar up your [beep] whilst you are at it” – Jon Millard.

The draw for the FA Cup fourth qualifying round was made on Monday. The FA sensibly split the draw into northern and southern sections to limit costs to clubs and travelling fans. And then they mess it up by placing Chelmsford City in the north. Poor Whitby Town will have a long journey on Saturday 14 October, and may make no money out of the tie. You couldn’t make it up” – Deryck Hall.

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Jon Millard.