O'Neill retains affection for Cup

Fri, 27 Jan 13:15:40 2012

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will renew his quest for FA Cup glory hoping the competition can return to the lofty position it enjoyed during his playing days.

O'Neill never won world football's oldest club knockout competition as a player, and is yet to better that record since heading into management. But as he prepares to send his side into fourth-round battle with derby rivals Middlesbrough on Sunday, the Ulsterman retains an affection for the competition which is not necessarily shared by all his colleagues.

O'Neill said: "That's a real shame. The cup in recent years has lost a bit of its sheen - there's no question about that. Other things seem to be taking priority.

"Manchester United didn't contest it one year - I know they had a political situation to overcome there as much as anything else. Third-round matches, where we used to wait and listen to the draw coming in, you would know that wherever a third-round tie would be played, it would be played in front of a full house.

"But now, sadly, it's not the case. The Barclays Premier League has become the be all and end all - it's become the holy grail, and I understand that. I understand that completely because that is your bread and butter, as it were. That's where you accumulate some points or that's where you could be relegated, and so all those things have a major bearing on the finances of a football club.

"Unfortunately because of that, cup competitions - and incredibly, the FA Cup - have suffered. I am hoping at some stage or another, it will get back to being what it used to be."


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