Alan Pardew had made it quite clear that he views the FA Cup as an important competition for Newcastle United this season.
Kevin Nolan – FA Cup important to Newcastle
And of course there are a few reasons for that – one is we haven’t won anything for 41 years, and it would really nice to break that rather long duck.
And the second reason is that winning the FA Cup or maybe even reaching the final against a top four side, will gain entry into Europe for the Newcastle club next season, and that would be terrific.
And it seems that Alan has talked at length this week to his players about the importance of the game this afternoon at Stevenage – which of course is a potential banana skin.
Captain Kevin Nolan talked about the FA Cup today:
“In the league, there are eight to ten teams who have spent a hell of a lot more money than us,” “They should be in the top eight. If we are in the top eight that’s great, but that is dream stuff.”“We just have to make sure we survive in this Premier League.”
“That 17th place was always our goal this season and we will still take that. If someone offers us 17th place and 46 points, with three teams finishing below us, everyone connected with Newcastle would say yeah. And I would take it.”
“Winning the FA Cup is easier because you only have to play eight or nine games to win it.” “Ah well, it’s even easier then, isn’t it?” “We understand it is going to be tough but we fancy anyone on our day. It is an easier way to get to Europe.”
“I am not being negative by saying I’d take 17th now, but we have to look at the bigger picture and be honest. We would have taken that two years ago and we cannot get carried away with what we are doing at the moment.”
Nowadays, it always surprises us that the world’s first knock-out competition is not as revered as it once was.
But that’s gladly not the case with Nolan or with the Newcastle United club, and of course Newcastle have a glorious past in this competition, having won it three times in five years back in 1951, 1952 and 1955.
Not getting to the FA Cup Final three times in five years mind you, but winning the thing three times in five years.
The famous Newcastle United club have won the competition 6 times with the first time being back in 1910.
Nolan rejects that the FA Cup is not as big as it once was, or that it’s not an important competition, as he continued:
“No way, not to us, no,” “We spoke about it this week and all of us want to go on a good cup run. Good cup runs always get the city buzzing. It gets everyone buzzing, players, fans, everyone. Everyone inside that dressing room wants to play.”
“It won’t be a case of going there and thinking, ‘We don’t fancy this much’,” “No way, not with this squad. There is absolutely no chance we won’t respect Stevenage.”
“They will run hard and work hard but we must make sure we run harder and work harder, show our quality, show we are physically stronger. If we do that, we win the game.”
“That would be three games inside a week we’ve won and that form going into the Sunderland game … very tasty isn’t it?”
On the Stevenage side of things of course, it’s a massive game for them, and it will be the biggest ever game some of their players will play in over their entire careers, and the match is also being televised live around the world.
What more could Stevenage players ask for – to play the game of their lives?
So we can expect Stevenage to potentially play way above themselves this afternoon, which is what causes so many upsets in the FA Cup competition – it’s just one game over 90 minutes.
And home turf too will be a big advantage to them, and they’ll hope to make the very best of it.
Stevenage boss Graham Westley seems confident his side can do the job against Newcastle this afternoon, and he was at the West Ham game on Wednesday to scout the Newcastle team:
“We don’t care what XI they put out,” “It will be good if they do put out a weakened side as it would suggest that they think they won’t have to be at their best to beat us.”
“And if they play their best side there will be players who don’t want to be out there.” “So whichever way they go I can see reasons why it will play into their hands.”
“We will look at their strengths and weaknesses and make sure we are in a position to take advantage.” “We had the chance to go and watch them play in midweek against West Ham so we know what we are coming up against.
“It’s a big game for us all, but I was Farnborough manager against Arsenal at Highbury when they were Double winners which was arguably a more difficult game.”
“But we will not underestimate a side who won the Championship last year. They have made a managerial change which they obviously think will take them forward and will be strong.”
Although Newcastle will have senior players like Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, Jonas Gutierrez, Andy Carroll, Shola Ameobi and Cheick Tiote all missing this afternoon, we have to think that experienced players like Barton, Enrique, Smith, Coloccini and Nolan can see Newcastle through to the next round.
We don’t much care what the score is, just as long as Newcastle score at least one more goal than Stevenage.