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Make Your Case: Is the FA Cup an unnecessary distraction or a New Year opportunity? - VOTE!

Sunderland are bottom of the Championship but face a different challenge this weekend as they take on Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. Should we treat the tie with respect or focus on the league? Vote in the poll below the article.

Arsenal v Chelsea - The Emirates FA Cup Final
The FA Cup
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mark - @Carrima - “It’s a great opportunity”

January is all about new starts and resolutions that we make to get us into the place we desire to be. Football need be no different - and a good cup run could just be what Sunderland need right now, for a number of reasons.

We have a bunch of players who would certainly benefit from playing games, and most of these currently occupy our bench.

A cup run could see the likes of Tom Beadling, Elliot Embleton and Ethan Robson gain vital first team experience. These are players that are often termed ‘highly thought of’ but haven’t had opportunities, largely due to the club consistently battling relegation.

The cup could provide a platform for them to show their abilities and stake a claim for a starting place in up-coming league fixtures.

The club’s financial issues are well documented, but Coleman needs new faces.

Whilst we’d certainly welcome loan deals for other club’s promising youngsters over the coming month, it would be unfair if we didn’t use this game as an opportunity to offer some of our own a chance at playing first team football, perhaps even gaining the recognition which will see them feature more heavily in the managers plans or even out on loan at a club further down the Football League.

Offering some of these lads a place in the side for an FA third round tie, against a team who play in the same division as us, would surely help Chris Coleman to make up his mind on one or two of the players sitting on the fringes waiting for a chance before he presses ahead with moving bodies in and out of the club over the coming weeks.

With a nod to the future, we need to be developing our own players through the Academy as the money for big signings is simply no longer available.

Plus, there’s the added perk of there being a decent fee on offer for each team that progresses - it might go some way to paying part of Jack Rodwell’s weekly pay packet I suppose.

In all seriousness, the buzz that the cup run we had under Gus Poyet gave the whole club and region a lift. Never have we needed an injection of positivity more than we do now, so let’s see the cup games as a real opportunity to build on what Coleman has already begun.

Sunderland v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Adam - @DEG_adamjohnson - “Focus on the league!”

If last year’s Championship standings and the points that relegated teams amassed are anything to go by, then we’re on course for back-to-back relegations for the first time in our history.

As disturbing as the thought of that is, are we surprised? Increasing debt, a depleted squad and an owner who won’t put his hand in his pocket to save us from the misery.

With all of this in mind, we should be doing everything we can to stay in the division and start striving for stability. Every day the players go into training the focus should be on the upcoming league game and picking up three points, not the potential of a distracting trip away to somewhere in the FA Cup.

As depressing as that is to admit, that’s the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in currently and we just have to accept that our focus must remain on retaining our status as a second tier club.

As for the squad, do we have enough depth to compete in a league and cup competition? Coleman is already running out of options due to an abundance of injuries and a few players looking to move on.

With so many youth prospects already appearing in the league, the option for our manager to rotate the squad isn’t really viable. On top of that, the January transfer window doesn’t look set to be as promising as we first thought, which is a big problem.

Juggling pivotal league games and FA Cup ties come March is a challenge for any manager, never mind one with limited options and resources.

For the players themselves, do they deserve a distraction from the league and an opportunity to express themselves in the cup? I’m not so sure. To see them play with more freedom in the cup would be difficult to stomach. If they can do it in the cup then why can’t they take charge in the league and drive us towards safety?

Don’t get me wrong, if a cup run gives us all the chance to cling onto something positive, I’m all for it. But let’s stay focused on the real task at hand this season.


The FA Cup - a great opportunity, or an unwelcome distraction?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    A great opportunity! (Mark)
    (71 votes)
  • 52%
    An unwelcome distraction! (Adam)
    (77 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now

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