An open letter to the Football Association

Forgive the impertinence but perhaps I might be emboldened enough to ask whether your priorities have become a little blurred and if it's too late to get rid of this nagging sense that you genuinely won't understand a lot of the things I'd like to bring to your attention.

You see, it would be nice to think your chairman, David Bernstein, and all his colleagues up there on the top floor actually mean it when they talk about football supporters being the "heartbeat of the game", or the "lifeblood", or any of those other buzzwords that come so easily in corporate football-speak these days.

It's just difficult sometimes to swallow the jargon and the niceties when there is all this evidence that it is something entirely different that drives your thinking and, while I appreciate there are plenty of good people within your organisation, it's worrying that something is plainly not right and yet you refuse to see it.

It makes me realise why I know so many people who once built their lives around going to football matches but can do without the old obsession these days. It makes me wonder what is happening to the sport when tradition is so easily screwed up and thrown into the nearest wastepaper basket. More than anything, it makes me wonder whether you actually give a damn, or even know what you're supposed to give a damn about.

That was certainly some statement you put out the other day explaining why you had moved the kick-off back for the FA Cup final to 5.15pm, apparently oblivious to the hassles and costs and disruption it meant for so many of those people who still like to go to watch football in person, the old‑fashioned way.

For starters, that bit about there being "only a minimal amount of fans" from the north who get the train for games at Wembley. Well, there will be even fewer this year, that's for sure, now it has been arranged so there are no suitable services for the supporters of Wigan Athletic and Manchester City to get back. But your research seems flawed anyway, if you don't mind me saying. Unless I just dreamed up all those moments – "the 7pm run", Gary Neville, one of your own these days, calls it – when the platforms for Piccadilly or Lime Street are announced and Euston has its own Encierro. It's not pretty, I can tell you.

Still, there's always National Express, as you keep reminding us. That's National Express, your Official Coach Partner, right? Except I rang that expensive number on Thursday and Friday and both times, after 15 minutes on hold, the person at the other end of the line didn't have any details. Their website says there will be at least one coach for each set of supporters but, when I asked their press office to specify if any more would be put on, they could not be sure.

There is, however, a coach that leaves London Victoria at 11.30pm and once it has stopped at Golders Green, Luton Airport, Luton, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Birmingham airport, Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Penkridge (no kidding), Manchester airport and Stockport you could be back in Manchester by 5.40am. It's one hell of a schlepp – six hours and 10 minutes, to be precise – but you know the price of London hotels and football's expensive enough already, isn't it? And, besides, there is another coach at 12.30am if you don't mind changing at Birmingham and adding another 40 minutes to the journey. How much are National Express paying you, by the way?

What troubles me here is that the Football Supporters' Federation wrote to you a while back pointing out that they understood why you wanted to maximise your television audience but also making the fairly reasonable point that a 5.15pm kick-off should be considered only if it didn't wreck the chances of people comfortably getting home. To quote one article on the FSF website: "The FSF could see that the FA could earn additional TV money with a tea-time kick-off. It didn't oppose change for the sake of it. It merely wanted to protect the interests of supporters. The FA's response? What do you think?"

That, incidentally, was written by an Arsenal supporter. You see, the people who go to games tend to stick together on some subjects because, all the time, there is this permanent sense that they are having to battle the authorities and that next time it might be their turn to suffer.

Most football fans, believe it or not, are becoming conditioned to the way the FA Cup is going and, despite it all, still want to think the good outweighs the bad. Over time, we have grown accustomed to the finalists getting little more than half the tickets between them. Nobody really likes the semi-finals being staged at Wembley or that a lot of the people who get freebies at the expense of real fans these days have to be coaxed out of the bars after half-time. Or – a small thing, perhaps – that the FA Cup's ribbons have been sold off and now come with Budweiser's name attached.

Personally, I'd associate 5.15 more with Pete Townshend and Quadrophenia than Alex Horne and Club Wembley. But it's a changing world and, fundamentally, most of us understand why you would rather shoehorn this game into a prime slot just before Britain's Got Talent. Even if we may not necessarily like it, we do get it.

It just grates to learn that Virgin Trains warned you about the problems it would cause for all those thousands of people coming down from Manchester and Wigan and, let's be honest, you decided to look the other way. It jars that you probably would have known anyway bearing in mind you did the same last season when it meant no trains back to Merseyside for Liverpool supporters. Remember how Kenny Dalglish accused you of taking people for granted? "It's not just about the fans of this club but every fan," he said. "The fans should be given more respect and taken into consideration." What he was saying, in essence, was that you don't really care less as long as the television companies are happy.

That's precisely what they have been saying in Wigan and Manchester, and can you really blame them? By now, you will have seen the complaints, both before and after that hard-faced statement you put out, what they think of your priorities and this persistent sense, though I'm sure you would deny it, that it doesn't particularly matter to you because of whom it affects.

The people, as the former Daily Telegraph editor and Margaret Thatcher biographer Charles Moore so charmingly put it a few days ago, who live in parts of the country "that have become relatively less important".

Wigan – little, patronised Wigan – are particularly entitled to feel aggrieved considering the same happened in the semi-final against Millwall and the derision they subsequently incurred for not selling all their tickets. It's just the people running the club don't want to make too much of a fuss. It's their first FA Cup final. They want to enjoy the buildup rather than becoming involved in a row with the FA and, while it would be nice to think the clubs would at least try to take you on, it's difficult to blame them when you would have ignored them anyway. Let's be realistic about this.

It's the television people and stakeholders who matter these days. They are the "heartbeat of the game". You just like to pretend otherwise sometimes.

Yours in football,

Daniel Taylor

Michu did not deserve to miss the cut

A simple question: if Michu had scored 21 goals for a club bigger than Swansea City, playing in his first season in the Premier League and having cost £2m, would he have merited a place on the Professional Footballers' Association's six-man shortlist for Player of the Year?

The answer, plainly, is yes when surely it makes sense that, not playing for one of the top teams, his contribution has been even more remarkable.

Swansea have won their first major trophy, in the club's centenary season, and Michu has undoubtedly been the star performer. Of course he should be on the list.

Instead, he has been excluded in favour of three mandatory picks in Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale and Luis Suárez, plus Juan Mata and Michael Carrick and the more perplexing choice of a second Chelsea player, Eden Hazard, who started the season brilliantly but found winter a fair old slog before improving again recently.

Michu, in other words, is finding out what Clint Dempsey discovered last season for Fulham. Dempsey had scored 16 league goals, 41% of Fulham's entire number, and set up five others by the time the 2012 shortlist was announced. Unfortunately for him, it doesn't tend to matter how well you do by that part of the Thames. If you're not playing for one of the bigger clubs, the chances are you can probably forget about making the cut. The award will be announced next Sunday, along with the Premier League XI of the year. Here's an alternative XI from the clubs who don't seem to count:

Begovic (Stoke); Lowton (Aston Villa), McCauley (West Brom), Williams (Swansea), Rose (Sunderland); De Guzman (Swansea), Schneiderlin (Southampton), Maloney (Wigan Athletic); Berbatov (Fulham); Michu (Swansea), Lambert (Southampton).

Animal who walked on the wilder side

The only other person I've seen punching a horse, apart from 45-year-old Newcastle supporter Barry Rogerson, is Mongo in Blazing Saddles. The difference is Mongo knocked his one clean out, as you might expect from someone who was kept in chains by the campfire, rode a bull, and was known to break up entire towns. As Jim, played by Gene Wilder, used to say: "Mongo ain't exactly a 'who'. He's more of a 'what'."

Rogerson, in contrast, has popped up in various newspaper interviews over the past week explaining that he does not make a habit of this sort of thing. His account is that he inadvertently walked into the riots after Newcastle's game against Sunderland, was wearing a scarf over his face to keep the cold off a broken filling and punched Bud, the nearest police horse, out of self-defence. "There are no excuses," he says. Yet he goes on to tell us that he is in medication for a the tablets he takes for sarcoidosis, alung condition that apparently means he cannot even climb the stairs at home, might have been to blame. Rogerson would like us all to know that he is actually an animal-lover, photographed ruffling the fur of Candy, his Alsatian cross, and telling the Daily Mail he has "three dogs, a fishpond out the back and I feed foxes across the road."

At least Newcastle admit being "embarrassed and appalled" by what happened. Millwall, in stark contrast, appear to have pulled down the shutters when it comes to the disorder at Wembley last Saturday. The club's press officer has been telling journalists they will accept the blame "if" it is proven to be their fans. When the FA put together a statement condemning the violence, the club took offence at the passage saying it was "Millwall supporters" and insisted it came out – it was changed to "in the Millwall end". Millwall might have come out of a difficult week a lot better if they had shown genuine contrition. Instead there is a tedious drip-drip process of desperately trying to pin it on others.

"There were people in there from both teams," the chairman, John Berylson, says. Ayse Smith, of the supporters' club committee, says rival fans had tickets for the Millwall end. Of course they did. And it was Hartlepool and Darlington rioting through the Bigg Market, too, in those black and white striped shirts.