MATTY FRYATT last night admitted watching Arsenal lift the FA Cup felt “sickening” after the “arrogance” that the Premier League giants had displayed towards Hull City during the build-up to the final.
The Tigers suffered the heartache of defeat in extra-time against the Gunners after initially racing into a two-goal lead inside eight incredible minutes.
James Chester and Curtis Davies were the unlikely goalscorers for City, who then saw glory ripped from their grasp as, first, Santi Cazorla and then Laurent Koscielny found the net to send the final into extra time for the 27th time in the competition’s long history.
Aaron Ramsey then broke Hull hearts with a 109th-minute winner to end Arsenal’s nine-year wait for a trophy.
It meant the Londoners’ standing as red hot favourites with the bookmakers – they were priced as short as 7-2 on before kick-off – proved, in the end, to be justified.
That, though, did nothing to soothe the annoyance of Fryatt, one of the Tigers’ longest-serving players after joining from Leicester City on New Year’s Day 2011, at how contemptuously he believes Arsenal had dismissed the Yorkshire club during the build-up.
Photographs, for instance, emerged last week on social media of an open top bus decked out in Arsenal colours with ‘FA Cup winners 2014’ emblazoned down the side, which added to the widespread publication of yesterday’s planned winners parade around north London smacked, to Fryatt, of a club taking success for granted.
It was, however, a television interview with Arsenal’s Lukasz Podolski that really offended, as the German responded to a journalist asking if Fryatt, with four goals in the Cup this season, was Hull’s danger man by joking, “Who? Who is this?”
Podolski then laughed derisively as he was told by an Arsenal employee that Fryatt plays for the Tigers. He then added: “Oh, he is a Hull player?
“Our focus is on our game. We are strong enough. We play nearly at home (at Wembley) and I focus on our game. I don’t look at the names or how Hull is playing. I think when we play like the last (few) weeks, we will win this Cup.”
Footage of the interview with Podolski emerged ahead of the final and the City squad were made aware of it.
Striker Fryatt said: “It was a sickening feeling watching Arsenal lift the trophy. I don’t mind losing but them planning parades and stuff wasn’t good.
“It is not their fault, as to whether or not the council should have kept it hush hush. But it came across as arrogance. It is disgusting, a lack of respect.
“I wouldn’t say it featured too much (in Steve Bruce’s team-talk). But, between the lads, we were aware of it.
“I had seen it myself, the parade with a bus already decorated, all that nonsense. It is all about how you conduct yourselves and I would like to think that if we won or lost, we would conduct ourselves in the same way.
“Whoever we play, we would treat in the same manner.”
Asked about the pre-match comments by Podolski, who was substituted at Wembley after an ineffective performance, Fryatt replied sarcastically: “He had a good game, didn’t he?”
He then added: “That (interview) was disrespectful again. They are his comments and if he doesn’t know me then fair enough.
“He is a foreign player and I don’t expect him to know every player, but it is a bit of arrogance.
“We didn’t approach the Sheffield United semi-final like that. That arrogance isn’t nice but that is just my opinion.”
Fryatt, in common with every player in amber and black, gave everything in the quest for victory against Arsenal.
That much was obvious even before the final moved into extra-time, with several City players looking jaded and heavy-legged.
Bruce had only planned to play Fryatt for a little over an hour due to the striker not having started a game in more than two months.
Instead, the 28-year-old, who missed almost all of last season with a serious Achilles injury, played the full two hours.
In common with all his team-mates, Fryatt was distraught at the final whistle. That feeling then gave way to frustration after being selected for random drug testing and an inability to go to the toilet as required.
Fryatt was still at Wembley after 10pm on Saturday night – way after the rest of the City squad had left for their post-match party in central London.
On Hull’s battling display to take Arsenal all the way, the City striker said: “It is immense pride I feel but also disappointment. If we could have just got to half-time at 2-0.
“They would have been facing a completely different challenge if that had been the case. But getting that goal back gave them an incentive.
“We were flying at 2-0 and playing some good stuff. But that free-kick (by Santi Cazorla) was top drawer, it hit the bar and went straight in.
“After that, they got on the ball and we got deeper and deeper. That is natural and on a big pitch, it took its toll.
“In the end, it was one-way traffic. We did have a chance at the end with Sone (Aluko) but they also had chances to win it. Arsenal are a top team and it was always going to be difficult.
“Having a 2-0 lead was something we couldn’t really have dreamed of but, in the end, it wasn’t enough. We couldn’t have done much more, to be honest.”
Fryatt is one of several City players out of contract this summer.
Manager Bruce has made it clear in recent weeks that he would like the striker to stay but a lack of first-team opportunities – Fryatt started more games in 2013-14 for Sheffield Wednesday than he did Hull – could lead to a parting of the ways, especially with Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long likely to again be the preferred partnership up front next season.
Others whose respective deals are set to expire include Robert Koren, Abdoulaye Faye, Steve Harper, Eldin Jakupovic and Joe Dudgeon. With the season now over, Bruce can turn his attention to dealing with his retained list.
In terms of new faces, the City manager wants to see “five or six” arrive this summer with Jake Livermore, who has been on loan all season from Tottenham Hotspur, at the top of his list.
And when it comes to tempting his preferred targets to Yorkshire, Bruce believes the 2013-14 season – where Hull finished in their highest-ever league position – will be as good a selling point as any.
He added: “I hope it will be a big help. Trying to get bigger and better is always the challenge. We landed two or three really big ones last summer, Huddlestone and Livermore. And we have got to try and secure Jake permanently, if we can.
“We will try our best. I will always try to improve and make the club bigger and better. We are doing all sorts of stuff. My job is to make it grow.
“We are spending a lot on the (new) academy (at Bishop Burton College) as it is our job is to produce some young players. But that is for the future – and I will probably get the sack when it is all in place anyway!”