The FA Cup competition under Mike Ashley over the last ten years has been an utter disaster and we usually get eliminated in the third round – the very first hurdle – in fact that’s what’s happened the last four years.
So if Newcastle can beat Birmingham City tomorrow afternoon at St. Andrews it will be our first win in the competition in some time.
Under Ashley the Premier League and the big money was all important and it seemed the managers were instructed to pay weakened sides in the cups and whether they were or not – that’s what they did.
Rafa Benitez – obsessed with winning – great!
Even when John Carver was in charge he made big noises two years ago about fielding a strong side two years ago but fielded one of the weakest sides Newcastle had played for years in the FA Cup.
We subsequently lost 1-0 at Leicester City who at that time were bottom of the league.
But under Rafa Benitez, like a lot of other things, the way the cups are approached has all changed.
Even though it was a huge disappointment for us to go out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage it was the longest cup run we have had in a long time.
Rafa has a very simple strategy in football – he approaches every game and tries to win it.
Some fans may be thinking the FA Cup should not be important and is a distraction this season, because getting promoted is everything.
But winning games is what it’s all about and if we can have a run in the FA Cup it could fuel a winning run and give the players confidence.
It’s also against the nature and personality of the Newcastle manager to field a weakened side and not go all out for the win.
So Rafa Benitez will field a strong side tomorrow afternoon at Birmingham and he will try to win that game.
And then at Brentford in the next game on Monday night, 16th January, he will try to do the exact same thing in that game.
That cannot be bad.