Mick McCarthy: FA Cup has lost its importance – but not its magic

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy, pictured after his side's 1-1 home draw with Preston in the FA C

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy, pictured after his side's 1-1 home draw with Preston in the FA Cup third round. PHOTO: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy admits the FA Cup has lost its importance – if not its magic – as he prepares to rest several players in tonight’s third round replay at League One side Preston North End.

A fourth round trip to fellow Championship side Nottingham Forest is up for grabs tonight. The winners of that will then be in the last 16.

This world famous knock-out competition has become something of an inconvenience to most managers these days though, with the riches attached to European qualification and Premier League status trumping cup glory.

McCarthy certainly had Saturday’s Championship match at Millwall in mind when selecting the squad which made the long trip to Lancashire last night, with Luke Chambers, Aaron Cresswell and Cole Skuse all left at home to rest minor injuries.

“I don’t think it’s lost its magic, it’s just lost its sense of importance because of the amount of money in the Premier League,” admitted McCarthy.

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“I don’t know what you get for winning the FA Cup, but how much is being in the Premier League worth? A hundred million?

“You get all these self-righteous people saying it should be about winning medals not money, but that’s not reality.

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“My medals mean a lot to me, but would Wigan – as a club – swap that trophy for still being in the Premier League? Probably, because winning it and getting relegated doesn’t sit well with the accountants.”

He continued: “I watched the 2000 Play-Off Final (Town’s 4-2 win over Barnsley) the other day on Sky. It got the juices flowing.

“It seems bonkers that you can finish sixth in the league, win the play-offs and that’s bigger than the FA Cup final. But it is though.

“You get a trophy for finishing sixth. It’s crazy really. It’s kind of sad, but that’s the way it’s gone.

“There’s still magic in the FA Cup though. Look at someone like Macclesfield getting a replay against Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United beating Aston Villa. It still has its moments, even if its not a competition that had the lustre it had.”

On tonight’s game, McCarthy said: “I want to win the game. I wanted to win the game last time. I’m not going to risk players unnecessarily though. I’d rather they missed one game and were then ready for the next 10 or 15.

“I don’t know how (Preston manager) Simon (Grayson) will feel about it. They’ve got important league games coming up too and, having lost to Wolves on Saturday, he might look to make a few changes.

“It’s just another game. I’m not thinking it’s going to hinder us being in the top six. What will stop us getting in the top six is if we don’t take out chances when we’re on top and then make mistakes which cost us three goals – as was the case against QPR at the weekend. That’s what will be a hindrance.”

– See today’s EADT and Ipswich Star for full match preview. Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.

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