The FA Cup is often referred to as the greatest competition in the world. No other tournament can pair up two teams with so many league positions between them.
It's a fantastic spectacle to see one of the top clubs in the country take on a side in the lower echelons of English football. The possibility of a giant killing gets the country excited, and if and when it does occur those memories will live with the fans and players forever.
It is surprising to hear Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert say that Premier League managers would rather do without the cup as it is a distraction from the Premier League. When asked whether the FA Cup was something Premier League clubs could do without he told BBC Radio West Midlands "If they were being honest, they probably would do." He went on to say that of course he would like to progress in the competition, but it is still astounding to hear him say he would rather not have to deal with it.
The FA Cup is a great competition and even if Aston Villa were to reach the final it would only add on six fixtures to their schedule barring replays. If you're progressing in the competition then it would surely only give the club a boost, and they would hope to carry that form into the league. Wins are good for a team no matter what competition they are in.
Furthermore, Aston Villa are unlikely to be challenging for the league title any time soon, so the cup competitions represent their best chance of silverware. A trip to Wembley for the fans, and entry into Europe is not something that should be ignored. It is a welcome addition to the football calendar. I understand Lambert's point about survival being the main aim for the club, but you can't have that philosophy every year.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has disagreed with Lambert and said that winning the trophy remains one of his proudest achievements in football. Mourinho has won a lot in his career but still regards the FA Cup triumph in 2007 as one of the high points of his career. "For teams without European competition, playing 38 games a season, I don't see a reason for those clubs to not try to win matches. Even for the smallest clubs, where it is difficult to reach a final, the FA Cup has a special meaning."
Mourinho has a point, the clubs with games in Europe to also contend with are usually in the latter stages of the competition and whilst it is a different scenario for the struggling teams everyone else is in the same boat.
Everton's Roberto Martinez won the competition last year with Wigan Athletic and he said the FA Cup is magical, but choosing between that and the league would be like "choosing between your Mum and your Dad." Wigan managed to win the FA Cup but could not avoid relegation, but given the choice I think the fans would have taken the FA Cup over the league every time. That will go down in history and will never be forgotten, whilst they could be back in the Premier League next season.
It is a special competition, and like with every other game you have to manage your squad effectively. You know the players you have, and it is up to the manager to pick the right players at the right time to perform well in all competitions.
Money has made the Premier League more important in terms of financial stability of the club, but there will always be something special about the FA Cup that can never be taken away.
Does the FA Cup still remain a special competition to you?
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