The use of a 'Cup final' as a cliche in soccer make sense.
A 'Cup final' is a match that is a championship game in a tournament - one where there can only be a winner and a loser, and one where the loser is eliminated. The NBA on TNT uses this phrase for their commercials during their tournament-style playoffs: WIN OR GO HOME.
A level of urgency is something that is essential to achieve victory in that setting, and the best teams tend to carry that with them throughout their season - and not just with their back against the wall in a 'Cup final'.
Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United was interviewed recently following their critical 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, and he discussed that level of urgency that has been a fabric of the club's successful culture.
“All we have ever said is to keep putting points on the board,” he said.
“Our last two away games have shown the professionalism in the camp and that has been fantastic. We have to continue that.
“We have big games coming up. Each game will be like a cup final. I know that’s a cliche but it’s true.”
City have been unable to shake United off and know they may have to keep picking up maximum points to avoid being overtaken by their arch-rivals in the coming weeks.
Ferdinand added: “We have just got to keep winning games. If we do that, we will put pressure on the other teams.
“It is about keeping our own house in order and making sure we remain resilient and keep putting points on the board.”
Resilience is something United have shown in abundance to win their last two games, scoring a stoppage-time winner at Norwich before producing a classic smash-and-grab victory on Sunday.
“It was a huge win for us because this was one of the games people probably expected us to drop points in,” Ferdinand said.
“It is tough stadium to play at and Spurs are a very good team now, so we had to come and produce a good performance. I thought our performance was very professional.
“At half-time, the manager told us to go out and play a bit better than we had done in the first half because we hadn’t really played at all.
“It was more or less a backs-to-the-wall display in the first half but we nicked a goal before half-time and set ourselves up for the second half.”
Urgency and resiliency are needed to outlast opponents throughout a long season, and if Manchester United can keep treating matches like they are 'Cup finals', they appear to be on track to hoist a cup at the end of the season once again.