Steve Evans: FA Cup magic still there - ask the Blades!

Nigel Clough with Michael Doyle at Villa Park
Nigel Clough with Michael Doyle at Villa Park
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Anyone suggesting the FA Cup has lost its magic might wish to speak to any Sheffield United supporter about last weekend.

This week, I bumped into a Blades supporter who had been to Villa Park and he said what a great day it was, one of the best he’d enjoyed for years.

It is still the most magical cup competition despite it keep getting the knockers attacking it, particularly in the early rounds.

As a manager, I recall a magical three or four years in it. When my team were knocked out this season, I was devastated.

Paul Lambert’s comments before the Blades game gave a psychological boost to Sheffield United. It didn’t make them better but Villa players would have thought the competition wasn’t that important to the gaffer.

Yet he put out a strong side, so he obviously wanted to get through.

But it isn’t just about the Premier League clubs. The FA Cup covers the whole of football and it is why it is still loved by many people, particularly the fans.

Where else does a non-league club get the opportunity to play at one of the Premier League giants? A few years ago, I was at Crawley Town - then in non-league - and we went to Old Trafford to play Manchester United in the fifth round.

What a fantastic experience that was for everyone connected with Crawley and, what’s more, there was a very important aspect linked in - the large amount of money that Crawley made out of that single cup-tie.

The finest manager there has been, Sir Alex Ferguson, told me how important the FA Cup was to him. It was another trophy to win and he loved winning trophies.

We all remember the time Man United pulled out of the FA Cup to take part in the World Club tournament in South America. That was a club decision but, privately, Sir Alex was not a happy bunny. He wanted to win the FA Cup that season.

For many clubs, the financial returns can make a real difference to them.

Sheffield United got a decent cut from a 24,000 gate at Villa Park; there’s the prize money on top (£67,000) and now they’ve got Premier League opposition at home and, as it’s being televised, that’s another chunk of cash from the tv money.

Don’t knock the old competition. Embrace it. Who knows, Sheffield United and their fans could get another magical day in the fourth round. In fact, I fancy both United and Wednesday to get to the fifth round.