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Make Your Case: Should Sunderland take the FA Cup seriously this season?

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Sunderland head to Port Vale this weekend to take part in only their second-ever first round FA Cup tie. With promotion our priority, should we take the cup seriously? Be sure to vote in the poll in the article and leave us your comments on what you’d do.

Sunderland AFC

Poll

Should SAFC take the FA Cup seriously this season?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Yes
    (206 votes)
  • 15%
    No
    (38 votes)
244 votes total Vote Now

Matthew: Yes!

The FA Cup is the greatest cup competition in world football, one that brings great memories that stick with you for the rest of your life. It’s a tournament full of excitement and controversy, with underdogs frequently making the headlines by beating the favourites - so why can that not be Sunderland this year?

Ahead of our first-round tie against Port Vale on Sunday there has an ongoing debate as to whether we should make wholesale changes as we have little chance of realistically winning the tournament.

Although I agree that we would need the luck of the draw to progress far, our team can only benefit from winning football matches. Jack Ross is trying to embed a winning mentality into our team, something we have not possessed for many seasons. Losing to a mid-table side from the league below with a fully fit side would only bring needless negativity to the club. In an ideal scenario we need a convincing victory to give everyone a confidence boost proving we can beat whoever comes against us.

In addition to that, having more games to play can only benefit Sunderland’s deep squad as we have several options in each position. Playing two games in a week on a regular basis will naturally involve more players, which will advance their development rather than see them rot on the side lines. Being in the competition longer could mean youth prospects such as Denver Hume and Bali Mumba gain more time in the side, rather than being loaned out. Wigan, who won League One last season, still won the league having made the quarter-finals so in my eyes there is no excuse for Sunderland to not at least have a go.

In our recent podcast, Stewart Donald touched on how integral attendances are to our January budget. If we happened to reach the third round a tie against a Manchester United/Liverpool could bring in much needed revenue from both tickets and TV money. Because Sunderland would represent the underdog being a League One club, it is likely any big tie would receive substantial media attention which could only help the club to flourish financially.

As well as that, I am sure our fans would thoroughly enjoy watching our team compete against Premier League opposition.

Wigan Athletic v Manchester City - The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
Max Power, then of Wigan, celebrates their giant-killing win over Manchester City in the FA Cup last season
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Graham: No!

Let me start by saying I completely understand Matthew’s point that we need to continue to blossom this winning mentality that has flourished since our drop into League One, but at the expense of League success? I don’t think so.

Let’s say we put out a strong team in front of Sky cameras on Sunday rather than rest our bigger names, and the likes of Chris Maguire or Jack Baldwin pick up an injury - does success in the FA Cup seem worth that risk?

You rarely want to change a winning team - especially when the likes of Baldwin and Tom Flanagan are building a strong partnership at the back and there’s relationships building all over the pitch - but on the flip side the likes of Glenn Loovens will be itching for game time after his recent injury and we are going to need the full squad match fit, ready to go and happy as we go through the season.

We have a squad for a reason - there’s no need to take risks and tire our star players out.

Would I like a cup run? Of course! We all would!

There’s nothing quite like the magic of the FA Cup and as a team now in the third tier, a Premiership scalp at the Stadium of Light would be more than welcome, but if there has ever been a time to look at the bigger picture and concentrate on getting this club back up the leagues - this season is it.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images