Chris Hughton remains a firm fan of the FA Cup despite ‘embarrassing’ exit to Luton Town
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Chris Hughton certainly does not share his predecessor Paul Lambert’s dismissive view of the FA Cup.
The Aston Villa boss claimed ahead of his side’s third round tie against Sheffield United many of his managerial contemporaries view the world famous knockout competition as an irritating aside to the real business of Premier League survival. Hughton won the FA Cup twice as a player at Tottenham and readily admitted on the eve of Fulham’s Carrow Road visit Luton’s giant-killing act last season was the most sour result of his tenure since succeeding Lambert.
“It was the lowest point,” he said. “It was incredibly embarrassing for us last season and rightly so with the manner we went out against the level of opposition. It was really embarrassing. It is something that is there and we can not deny that now, but we are up against good Premier League opposition. People might talk about putting things right but the opposition is completely different.
“I don’t necessarily feel it affected our league form because if anything the knock-on effect can get players going in the other direction and all these cup games are very much a one-off. We didn’t deserve to lose but when you do it is a feeling of embarrassment.
“The big thing about this game is you have to move on. We had an important league campaign to get on with last season but I won’t take anything away from Luton. It was their day and a wonderful day for them but it was certainly one of the toughest parts of last season.”
Hughton had a sharp retort when pressed on whether he would he sacrifice FA Cup progress to focus on Premier League matters.
“No I wouldn’t,” he said. “No doubt the biggest priority is doing well in the Premier League, but I think it is a good distraction. Do we want to make progress? Yes we do. There is no doubt about that one. We all look forward to the FA Cup. There isn’t anybody here that doesn’t enjoy the feel of this competition. Every game has a pressure on the performance to do well. The difficulty will be making sure we have enough players who have come through to field a team I would like. It is trying to get the right balance.”
Hughton has already confirmed Ricky van Wolfswinkel will start but the Norwich boss has limited options in other areas through both injury and suspension.
“That makes it a little bit more difficult for me, but we still want to progress,” he said. “We have lads who will feel they have waited for an opportunity. and I don’t anticipate making wholesale changes. What I do know is we will have a fantastic support behind us again. I know the club have worked very hard and cut the prices to try and encourage supporters to come along and I also know they want us to go through because of what this competition stands for.”