Nigel Clough admits the odds on Sheffield United lifting the FA Cup this season are likely to be as long as the Greasy Chip Butty song becoming Christmas number one, writes James Shield.
But the South Yorkshire club’s manager, who famously held its Mancunian namesakes to a draw during his spell in charge of Burton Albion, last night insisted there would be no shortage of motivation at the Weston Homes Community Stadium tomorrow.
Clough, speaking ahead of the first round fixture with Colchester, said: “If you can get a good run going then it’s great for momentum and confidence. It’s great for supporters too because, the further you go, the more chance there is of getting a huge game.
“There have been some great cup ties at Bramall Lane down the years and that’s something we are trying to bring back.
“Financially, getting a big draw can make a world of difference. If we can earn some money out of it then there’s the opportunity to invest it.
“I don’t believe the FA Cup has lost it’s magic. You try getting a ticket for a semi-final or the final. That’s the acid test, it really is.”
“I was watching Pointless on television the other day and it came up about Sheffield United being one of the teams that knocked Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United out of the competition (in 1993),” he added. “So that’s the heritage we are talking about.”
Thirteen years after goals from Jamie Hoyland and Glyn Hodges ended the Scot’s hopes of reaching Wembley, the Old Trafford outfit required a replay to dispatch Albion, then managed by Clough, at the third round stage.
“I can remember during the first match at our place,” Clough said. “Looking across to their bench and seeing Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo about to come on.
“There were lads at Burton playing against people like Ronaldo. They would have never have dreamed of doing that because we were in the Conference at the time but that’s what the cup is all about, those are the possibilities and opportunities it creates.
“Getting that replay set Burton up financially for a long time and the players in that team deserved to have that opportunity. But I’m not going to deny that we were as nervous as hell beforehand.
“The worst thing, in fact, was that we were up against Burscough in the second round and the match was been postponed. So the draw for the third round had already been made and everyone knew what was at stake when it finally took place.”