Respect the FA Cup and reap league rewards
THEY SAY that winning becomes a habit, they being the academics of the game of course. The same people also say that the F.A Cup is a tournament like no other, the pinnacle of knockout club football. Next Saturday it throws up a massive dilemma for Malky Mackay as his young charges play host to Gus Poyet and his Brighton and Hove Albion side.
The Seagulls visit the Vic` in what should be a good game, two teams doing well in their respected leads, separated by a division, there or thereabouts and both with intelligent, articulate young managers trying to preach the idealistic principles of playing good, attractive exciting football.
If all goes well Brighton should re-join the Hornet`s in the second-tier next season but for now they`re a division below and considered a tricky tie. We`re on form, they`re on form. Something has to give.
I`m all for respecting the F.A Cup as it goes. We`ve seen what happens to those who dare to challenge it; Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have all fallen by the wayside to 'minnows` this season along with Arsenal and Manchester City both who overcame less opposition at the second attempt.
Last season Manchester United caused one of the great F.A Cup shocks when they lost 1-0 at home to then League One side Leeds United. Watford do not, I repeat do not, want to find themselves on the end of a defeat.
Similarly though, Mackay`s men do not want to find themselves depleted by fatigue, injury or suspension as we head rapidly towards the final third, the business end of the 2010/11 campaign.
A further benefit of F.A Cup progression is the financial rewards - the money is needed more than ever, but then the higher league position one attains come May, the greater rewards attached anyway.
So what does Malky Mackay, the only man whose opinion in this situation that really counts do?
Personally Malky, if you`re looking for some friendly advice, I`d go with as strong a team as possible. There`s more to be gained from going all-out for the win than there is for taking a conservative approach and sending out the stiffs and kids
Assuming we dispatch of both Cardiff and Brighton, we`ve shot up to an astounding nine wins on the bounce, Danny Graham and Marvin Sordell chalking up more goals in the process.
Winning breeds confidence, confidence provides the atmosphere for winning, neither exists without the other.
The extra monies of course come in handy and provide further wedge with which to improve the squad anyway which in turns bolsters our unexpected promotion push.
When all is said and done there is a lot more to gain from sending the big guns out against Poyet`s Brighton than there is for 'squad rotation`.
There`s little danger in giving Rene GIlmartin his fourth run out of the season, he looked good against Hartlepool and maybe Andrea s Weimann would benefit from some game tie but naming his strongest eleven is the only thing Malky Mackay should be thinking about doing.
Martin O`Neill exercised the same method of naming the same eleven week in week out and Villa and although it ended sourly they`re doing poorly this season under Gerard Houllier who has tinkered with his side until the cows come home.
As I wrote in my last article, consistency is key, and this is all part of it.
I do believe Malky will do the right thing next weekend.