As a competition, the FA Cup is one that is really close to me and one in which I always want to do well.
This weekend we will feature in one of the staples of the FA Cup – a league club travelling to face a non-league side .
We’ve been drumming it into the players all week that there could be a shock on Saturday when we go to Weston-Super-Mare.
The players must know the last thing they want is to be picking up the paper on Sunday morning and seeing Doncaster Rovers being talked about as the giant that has been slayed.
The TV cameras are going to be there and we’ve been told we’re the main featured game on the Saturday night highlights. They are ready and prepared for the fairytale underdog stuff that happens in the cup. It is up to us to be prepared to spoil the fun.
If you don’t go in with the right frame of mind and attitude, where you are in the footballing food chain means absolutely nothing. If you’re not 100 per cent focused, that’s when you get your backsides bitten.
We will go there with the strongest squad possible. We go there expecting to win but we have to show respect to the competition and we have to show Weston respect. We also have to realise this is a competition we want to go as far as possible in.
Through my experiences as a player and a manager, I know how important the FA Cup is for lots of reasons. I’ve been involved on both sides in shock results. The ties with Liverpool when I was manager at Oldham are my strongest memories. Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard all played so to go on and win the game was huge.
I got to the semi finals with Blackburn as a player and I was part of the squad that won it with Arsenal in 1993. I’ve seen what a catalyst it can be for some many things at the club. The Liverpool games kept Oldham going at that time.
Money goes back into your budget, not just straight away but looking to next season. It can dictate even at this stage the sort of contracts you can hand out in the summer.
And the players must realise what it can do on an individual basis. Star in a FA Cup game and you are straight into the spotlight.
I look back at Matt Smith who I had at Oldham. A year and a half before that Liverpool game, he was playing at Solihull and studying at university. After, he got a big move to Leeds and then Fulham. That’s the sort of thing a cup game can do for you.
Our goal first and foremost is to reach the third round and give ourselves the chance of getting something like that Liverpool game.
But it’s Weston-Super-Mare first. The FA Cup has a horrible knack of producing shocks and we want to be the ones on the right end of a shock in a couple of month’s time, not on the wrong end this weekend.