After spending much of his media briefing discussing errant midfielders and off-the-pitch incidents, the opportunity to finally talk football must have seemed like manna from heaven for Nigel Adkins yesterday.
Especially, he acknowledged, when it involved the FA Cup. A competition which, as a youngster growing-up in Birkenhead, holds many happy memories.
“Everyone has recollections of the FA Cup,” the Sheffield United manager said. “As kids, we used to go out in the street after the final, kick a football about and dodge the cars. You visualised you were lifting the trophy.
“There are certain moments I remember. Charlie George scoring against Liverpool, Liverpool when they were brilliant against Newcastle and Jim Montgomery’s save for Sunderland against Leeds. As a goalkeeper myself you appreciated what a wonderful save that was. Then there was Mick Jones creating a diving header for Leeds against Arsenal. He played all the game strapped up because I don’t think they had any subs in those days.”
Adkins, aged 50, expects his players to demonstrate similar commitment when they face Oldham Athletic in the second round tomorrow. United enter the match without a win in their last five outings but, despite admitting that reaching the Championship next season remains his priority, Adkins insisted progress in knockout competition can have a positive effect upon results in the league.
“There’s a spirit here, I can sense it,” he said. “We value the FA Cup, the importance of it, but at the start of the season our objective was to get to the next level. Every supporter, if they can choose one or another, would want the league. Likewise, we respect the FA Cup and we want to do well in it.”