Ian Hamilton

Saturday’s FA Cup Final has been billed as something of a connoisseur’s delight. The question being asked is not so much ‘Who will win?’ as ‘Who will blow it?’ Which of the two contestants will jettison a handsome half-time lead or snatch an ingenious own goal in the last minute? Which of them will come out of it more poignantly? Chelsea and Middlesbrough have this season been the soccer aesthete’s dream teams: bristling with Italo-Brazilian flair but inconsistent, full of attacking wizardry but suspect in defence. In other words, too good for their own good. No wonder we like them, as Kingsley Amis used to say, though not of course re soccer.

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[*] Robson, 260 pp., £16.95, 12 May, 186105 104 2.