FA Cup could turn Saints stars into legends

Daily Echo: Rickie Lambert Rickie Lambert

The biggest game of the season so far.

Is that a fair tag to attach to Saints’ FA Cup fifth round trip to Sunderland tomorrow lunchtime?

Too right it is.

Before the third round tie against Burnley at St Mary’s, I wrote in the Echo that Saints need to take this season’s FA Cup seriously.

If they did, it could well turn manager Mauricio Pochettino and his players from men who will be well remembered in 30 or 40 years time into legends.

Now we are down to the last 16, Saints need to take tomorrow’s tie even more seriously.

Victory at the Stadium of Light against a side 15 points and 10 places worse off in the top flight than Saints would propel the club into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2005.

Poch and co would then be just 90 minutes away from a Wembley semi- final. And they could face Sheffield Wednesday or Charlton, Cardiff or Wigan, Sheffield United or Nottingham Forest, Brighton or Hull.

With respect, Saints would be confident of progressing to the semis if drawn – home or away - against any of those teams.

The FA Cup is still the greatest club knockout competition in world football. Always has been, always will be.

Yes, the tournament has been stripped of a little bit of its magic in recent years as the Premier League’s cash cow continues to milk ever more money into the coffers of the lucky elite 20. West Ham’s Sam Allardyce was roundly criticised for fielding a below strength side in a 5-0 pasting at lower division Nottingham Forest. He won’t have been stung by the criticism, and after three successive league wins he won’t care that his team are not in the fifth round this weekend.

Indeed, he has taken his squad off to warmer climes while Saints travel to the chilly and wet north east.

Still, West Ham’s players aren’t in with a great chance of becoming legends overnight this season.

Adam Lallana and the rest of the Saints squad most certainly are.

Jay Rodriguez spoke after the third round win against Burnley that he wanted to go on a long FA Cup run.

And Jose Fonte revealed in this very newspaper yesterday that every single Saints player was taking inspiration from the 1976 FA Cup win.

So they should.

Nick Holmes played over 500 games for Saints, helping the club finish runners-up in the old First Division in 1984.

I would wager a shiny pound coin, though, that he gets more Saints fans wanting to talk about the 1976 FA Cup final he played in.

Same with Mick Channon.

He played over 600 games for the club, twice helping them to a top seven First Division finish in 1969 and 1971.

But how many supporters have ever asked him about those seasons, compared to his day in the sunshine with the rest of the Saints’ FA Cup legends?

Lawrie McMenemy no doubt still comes across people every week who want to talk about the events of May 1, 38 years ago.

And why not? It is still the club’s most famous day.

Fast forwarding to the present, is there a good reason why Pochettino cannot field the same side he did at Hull the other night?

This is the FA Cup. Everyone will be up for it.

No disrespect to the likes of Kelvin Davis and Jos Hooiveld, who have played in both FA Cup ties so far, but Saints will stand a better chance tomorrow if Artur Boruc and Fonte start.

They will stand a better chance if Rickie Lambert is up front, rather than Sam Gallagher. Surely the first choice players are capable of playing twice in five days?

This Saints team has gone to Cardiff, Fulham and Hull in the past few weeks, and kept clean sheets in victories.

Sunderland might be slightly better than two of those clubs in terms of league position, but not much better.

The same Hull side that Saints beat on Tuesday had won at the Stadium of Light three days earlier. I repeat, this is a superb chance for Saints.

They didn’t take the League Cup that seriously when they fielded a below-strength side at Sunderland in the League Cup last November, and paid the price.

Sunderland have since gone on to reach Wembley in that competition.

It could have been Saints.

But the League Cup is dwarfed in glamour and importance by the FA Cup, even if the reward – a Europa League place that Pochettino has already admitted he personally wouldn’t welcome too much – is the same.

Let’s be honest, Saints are going to finish eighth or ninth in the Premier League, and that will be a phenomenal achievement bearing in mind they were losing third division games to the likes of Rochdale less than three years ago.

They are only two points away from equalling last season’s 41-point haul, so have no relegation fears.

Same as 11 years ago, in fact.

Back then, in 2002/03, Gordon Strachan’s side took full advantage of a run of favourable draws to reach the final.

Any Saints fan who was at the Millennium Stadium will forever remember the atmosphere they helped create.

They might have lost the game, but Saints were winners in the stands.

Great memories, even in defeat.

That’s what the FA Cup can provide.

Jose Fonte and the Saints players appear aware of that.

Pochettino has not been in English football that long, but he must be aware of it too.

Win at Sunderland, get a favourable draw, and his players will be desperate to play in the quarters with a Wembley carrot dangling in front of them.

Gus Poyet has overseen an impressive upturn in the Black Cats’ fortunes since he replaced Paolo Di Canio.

But he has a relegation dogfight firmly on his hands, as well as the League Cup final to look ahead to.

Poyet doesn’t need another long Cup run to deflect attention away from his primary goal.

Saints could certainly do with one, though.

Comments (7)

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9:20am Fri 14 Feb 14

warrens 76 says...

Up and at them…three games when apart from the LC we wereabsolutely all over them…2 penalties denied at home and incredible superiority and quality overturned by rank stupidity…pleeeeee
eeeeease put it right tomorrow.
Up and at them…three games when apart from the LC we wereabsolutely all over them…2 penalties denied at home and incredible superiority and quality overturned by rank stupidity…pleeeeee eeeeease put it right tomorrow. warrens 76

9:45am Fri 14 Feb 14

Strasbourg Saint says...

warrens 76 wrote:
Up and at them…three games when apart from the LC we wereabsolutely all over them…2 penalties denied at home and incredible superiority and quality overturned by rank stupidity…pleeeeee

eeeeease put it right tomorrow.
Exactly.

Simon Carter hits the nail on the head with this line, 'The FA Cup is still the greatest club knockout competition in world football. Always has been, always will be.'

That's why we must give it our best shot.
[quote][p][bold]warrens 76[/bold] wrote: Up and at them…three games when apart from the LC we wereabsolutely all over them…2 penalties denied at home and incredible superiority and quality overturned by rank stupidity…pleeeeee eeeeease put it right tomorrow.[/p][/quote]Exactly. Simon Carter hits the nail on the head with this line, 'The FA Cup is still the greatest club knockout competition in world football. Always has been, always will be.' That's why we must give it our best shot. Strasbourg Saint

9:49am Fri 14 Feb 14

willygetaway says...

warrens 76 wrote:
Up and at them…three games when apart from the LC we wereabsolutely all over them…2 penalties denied at home and incredible superiority and quality overturned by rank stupidity…pleeeeee

eeeeease put it right tomorrow.
Well i,m with you on that one Bro,
you never ring you never write : )
[quote][p][bold]warrens 76[/bold] wrote: Up and at them…three games when apart from the LC we wereabsolutely all over them…2 penalties denied at home and incredible superiority and quality overturned by rank stupidity…pleeeeee eeeeease put it right tomorrow.[/p][/quote]Well i,m with you on that one Bro, you never ring you never write : ) willygetaway

10:22am Fri 14 Feb 14

rayinhornsey says...

Great article Simon, sums up how I feel exactly. Got the day off work today and sitting at my lap top reading this has bought on my Pre Match Tension (PMT) big time!! Me and my mate Wath are getting the 14.28 from Kings Cross to Durham this afternoon and having a night out in the old City. I've been told it's a good night out up there. Couple of others, Rat & Terry Le Ticket are joining us later so if any other Saints fans have had the same idea let us know what pubs you'll be in and we'll join you for a pint.

I still dream about 1976, I went to every round bar the Villa away replay. The Bradford quarter final was an amazing day but a bit hairy with all the Leeds yobs in town. The semi final, I lived a mile from Selhurst Park at the time, I've never been more nervous about a game. We were standing on the Shed and I got talking to a copper standing next to me who confessed that he was a big Saints fan to and it turned out, he lived in the same street as me!! When we scored the 2nd goal to wrap the game up I ended up on his shoulders and wearing his helmet!! can you imagine that today?? It would have made a cracking photo! And then the final - what can I say, quite simply the best day of my life.

I know I'm going on a bit here, reminiscing, but what I am trying to say is that this is what the FA Cup is all about, The greatest domestic cup competition in the world - what dreams are made of - COME ON SAINTS MAKE OURS COME TRUE - see you in Sunderland tomorrow lads (or Durham tonight!)
Great article Simon, sums up how I feel exactly. Got the day off work today and sitting at my lap top reading this has bought on my Pre Match Tension (PMT) big time!! Me and my mate Wath are getting the 14.28 from Kings Cross to Durham this afternoon and having a night out in the old City. I've been told it's a good night out up there. Couple of others, Rat & Terry Le Ticket are joining us later so if any other Saints fans have had the same idea let us know what pubs you'll be in and we'll join you for a pint. I still dream about 1976, I went to every round bar the Villa away replay. The Bradford quarter final was an amazing day but a bit hairy with all the Leeds yobs in town. The semi final, I lived a mile from Selhurst Park at the time, I've never been more nervous about a game. We were standing on the Shed and I got talking to a copper standing next to me who confessed that he was a big Saints fan to and it turned out, he lived in the same street as me!! When we scored the 2nd goal to wrap the game up I ended up on his shoulders and wearing his helmet!! can you imagine that today?? It would have made a cracking photo! And then the final - what can I say, quite simply the best day of my life. I know I'm going on a bit here, reminiscing, but what I am trying to say is that this is what the FA Cup is all about, The greatest domestic cup competition in the world - what dreams are made of - COME ON SAINTS MAKE OURS COME TRUE - see you in Sunderland tomorrow lads (or Durham tonight!) rayinhornsey

11:09am Fri 14 Feb 14

Strasbourg Saint says...

rayinhornsey wrote:
Great article Simon, sums up how I feel exactly. Got the day off work today and sitting at my lap top reading this has bought on my Pre Match Tension (PMT) big time!! Me and my mate Wath are getting the 14.28 from Kings Cross to Durham this afternoon and having a night out in the old City. I've been told it's a good night out up there. Couple of others, Rat & Terry Le Ticket are joining us later so if any other Saints fans have had the same idea let us know what pubs you'll be in and we'll join you for a pint.

I still dream about 1976, I went to every round bar the Villa away replay. The Bradford quarter final was an amazing day but a bit hairy with all the Leeds yobs in town. The semi final, I lived a mile from Selhurst Park at the time, I've never been more nervous about a game. We were standing on the Shed and I got talking to a copper standing next to me who confessed that he was a big Saints fan to and it turned out, he lived in the same street as me!! When we scored the 2nd goal to wrap the game up I ended up on his shoulders and wearing his helmet!! can you imagine that today?? It would have made a cracking photo! And then the final - what can I say, quite simply the best day of my life.

I know I'm going on a bit here, reminiscing, but what I am trying to say is that this is what the FA Cup is all about, The greatest domestic cup competition in the world - what dreams are made of - COME ON SAINTS MAKE OURS COME TRUE - see you in Sunderland tomorrow lads (or Durham tonight!)
You carry on reminiscing, some of us are old enough to feel the same. I remember that semi. A mate left his ticket on the coach. When he told us at the turnstyle, a stranger's voice behind us said, 'Don't worry, have this one, it's spare'. (lucky begger!)

I remember singing, 'You can stick your fat fedora up your 4rse' to Malcolm Alison. Afterwards, a disappointed Palace fan ran past us and his own fedora fall off his head. We stopped to pick it up and he turned and grabbed it from us thinking we planned to nick it. 'Gimmie that!' he shouted. Then, realising that's what we had intended to do, he apologised and wished us luck in the final.

Our reply? 'Thanks, but we won't need it.'

Have a fantastic weekend. Wish I was joining you.
[quote][p][bold]rayinhornsey[/bold] wrote: Great article Simon, sums up how I feel exactly. Got the day off work today and sitting at my lap top reading this has bought on my Pre Match Tension (PMT) big time!! Me and my mate Wath are getting the 14.28 from Kings Cross to Durham this afternoon and having a night out in the old City. I've been told it's a good night out up there. Couple of others, Rat & Terry Le Ticket are joining us later so if any other Saints fans have had the same idea let us know what pubs you'll be in and we'll join you for a pint. I still dream about 1976, I went to every round bar the Villa away replay. The Bradford quarter final was an amazing day but a bit hairy with all the Leeds yobs in town. The semi final, I lived a mile from Selhurst Park at the time, I've never been more nervous about a game. We were standing on the Shed and I got talking to a copper standing next to me who confessed that he was a big Saints fan to and it turned out, he lived in the same street as me!! When we scored the 2nd goal to wrap the game up I ended up on his shoulders and wearing his helmet!! can you imagine that today?? It would have made a cracking photo! And then the final - what can I say, quite simply the best day of my life. I know I'm going on a bit here, reminiscing, but what I am trying to say is that this is what the FA Cup is all about, The greatest domestic cup competition in the world - what dreams are made of - COME ON SAINTS MAKE OURS COME TRUE - see you in Sunderland tomorrow lads (or Durham tonight!)[/p][/quote]You carry on reminiscing, some of us are old enough to feel the same. I remember that semi. A mate left his ticket on the coach. When he told us at the turnstyle, a stranger's voice behind us said, 'Don't worry, have this one, it's spare'. (lucky begger!) I remember singing, 'You can stick your fat fedora up your 4rse' to Malcolm Alison. Afterwards, a disappointed Palace fan ran past us and his own fedora fall off his head. We stopped to pick it up and he turned and grabbed it from us thinking we planned to nick it. 'Gimmie that!' he shouted. Then, realising that's what we had intended to do, he apologised and wished us luck in the final. Our reply? 'Thanks, but we won't need it.' Have a fantastic weekend. Wish I was joining you. Strasbourg Saint

11:29am Fri 14 Feb 14

Costa Baz says...

Win this and the only team that would worry me, is Chelsea.

We've already shown that we can match Citeh, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In an ideal world, the winners of the City v Chelsea and Arsenal v Liverpool games, will be drawn against each other in the QF, and we will get drawn against the weakest side in the QF and SF.

But first, of course, we need to take care of business on Saturday.
Win this and the only team that would worry me, is Chelsea. We've already shown that we can match Citeh, Arsenal and Liverpool. In an ideal world, the winners of the City v Chelsea and Arsenal v Liverpool games, will be drawn against each other in the QF, and we will get drawn against the weakest side in the QF and SF. But first, of course, we need to take care of business on Saturday. Costa Baz

3:35pm Fri 14 Feb 14

REDARMYRULETHESOUTH says...

Costa Baz wrote:
Win this and the only team that would worry me, is Chelsea.

We've already shown that we can match Citeh, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In an ideal world, the winners of the City v Chelsea and Arsenal v Liverpool games, will be drawn against each other in the QF, and we will get drawn against the weakest side in the QF and SF.

But first, of course, we need to take care of business on Saturday.
No Kelvin or Hoover etc on the Team Sheet.

There are so few games left this Season - our TOP Players will be needed to progress in this one.

SAINTS FANS WANT PROGRESS IN THE CUP and THE LEAGUE.

WE CAN FIGHT ON 2 FRONTS - WE ARE THE MIGHTY SOUTHAMPTON.

RED ARRRRRRRRRRRRRMY
[quote][p][bold]Costa Baz[/bold] wrote: Win this and the only team that would worry me, is Chelsea. We've already shown that we can match Citeh, Arsenal and Liverpool. In an ideal world, the winners of the City v Chelsea and Arsenal v Liverpool games, will be drawn against each other in the QF, and we will get drawn against the weakest side in the QF and SF. But first, of course, we need to take care of business on Saturday.[/p][/quote]No Kelvin or Hoover etc on the Team Sheet. There are so few games left this Season - our TOP Players will be needed to progress in this one. SAINTS FANS WANT PROGRESS IN THE CUP and THE LEAGUE. WE CAN FIGHT ON 2 FRONTS - WE ARE THE MIGHTY SOUTHAMPTON. RED ARRRRRRRRRRRRRMY REDARMYRULETHESOUTH

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