September 18 2014 Latest news:
Friday, January 3, 2014
The FA Cup third round weekend is meant to be one of the highlights of the season but the debate is raging as to whether the tournament has lost its allure.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert believes the majority of top-flight managers would rather do without the distraction of the FA Cup.
Lambert will take his side into Saturday’s third round tie against League One Sheffield United with a brutally honest message with regard to his side’s priorities.
Asked whether most of his fellow managers would prefer to avoid the prestigious competition completely, Lambert told BBC Radio WM: “If they were being honest, they probably would do.”
Lambert added: “Not just because of the money but survival in the league is vital.
“It is realistic. That is the nature of it. If anyone says any differently then I am not so sure they will be telling the truth because the Premier League is the most vital thing that anyone wants to get into and we are no different.”
Lambert is adamant his main priority is to lift Villa away from the Premier League relegation zone having moved six points clear with Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Sunderland.
But he insisted his list of priorities did not mean he would not be going into the clash against the Blades eager to book a place in the next round.
Lambert added: “Cup competitions, if you can get through, then absolutely I want to get through. I don’t want to not get through but your main one is the league.
“We don’t have a massive squad and points are really important. If you are honest enough people will say the same.”
The Villans boss has raised the debate again with a number of Premier League sides playing shadow sides in the League Cup.
The league has been described as the ‘bread and butter’ but will the FA Cup be considered like the Capital One Cup?
Arsenal, for instance, top the league and their supporters would dearly love to lift the title in May – would an FA Cup run damage their chances?
Chelsea are in the same boat and are in a title fight, no matter how many times Blues boss Jose Mourinho tries to downplay this fact.
Tottenham are battling to close the gap to the top four and qualify for the Champions League but would lifting the most prestigious cup trophy in the world make it a successful season?
But as Spurs’ slogan puts it ‘the game is about glory’. If you told an Arsenal supporter that the Gunners would lift this season’s FA Cup and finish in the top three, chances are they’d take it.
At the other end of the table, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Fulham are battling to survive in the Premier League and would a run like Wigan’s last season prove detrimental to their chances?
If one of those three was to reach the final and qualify for Europe and go down, it could harm the following season.
Former Millwall manager Steve Lomas said that he felt the Europa League was part of the problem for Wigan’s run in the Championship, while Birmingham also struggled in the year they lifted the League Cup.
On the flip side, lower league outfits love the chance to test themselves against the elite and upsets and runs are ranked highly in supporters’ minds.
Leyton Orient may be the lowest ranked London side in the competition – but they would dearly love to test themselves against a Premier League side.
Millwall, Charlton and QPR supporters may dream themselves of a fortunate draw that allows them of a day at Wembley.
Does the FA Cup still have the allure for football supporters? Vote in our poll.