The FA Cup is one of the longest running cup competitions in the footballing world and for clubs right from the very bottom of the football league in England it provides excitement among both fans and players. The early rounds provide a break from the pressures of the Premier League and I reckon that a break has come at just the right time for Fulham. It hasn’t been fun in the Premier League for Fulham in the fast few months but the win at West Brom has relieved some of the panic that had been settling in. I honestly think we will be fine because despite the very poor run we had, we are a good team with some excellent players and an intelligent manager behind it all. Some might prefer to just carry on with the Premier League while we seem to be carrying some sort of good form but I think the players might benefit from playing a FA cup tie at home because it is a competition that everyone seems to want to play in.
Jol had came out and said before the West Brom game that he feared for his players over the festive period because of the sheer amount of games they were playing but tomorrow he seems keen to play a strong team to give us the best possible chance of going through to the next round.
“I will go with a strong side,” he said. “I don’t want to make that mistake. We haven’t played 60 games like last year. We can use the players that are fully fit.
“I love the competition. When I played in England there were always special moments and special games. Most of the time they were sell-outs and it gave a lot of teams reason to spark their season. For me, that’s still the same.
“It’s about motivation and if we can inspire ourselves. Our supporters haven’t been spoilt with a lot of Finals over the years. I’ve had a few Semi-Finals and Finals as a player and a manager and they are always great occasions. A club like Fulham won’t win the title but a cup is a possibility.”
So we could see could see most of our star players on show tomorrow and it is good to know that Jol is keen to take this seriously because cup runs are something that we never really have apart from the unbelievable journey to the Europa League Final in 2010. The FA cup is the perfect opportunity for our players to really show their desire for the club to do well and with the likes of Berbatov and Ruiz why can’t we have some sort of impact? Jol also expects that a good win tomorrow could spark our season and that is something that we would all love to see. A win tomorrow followed up by a win at home to Wigan next week would certainly lighten the mood around the Cottage!
We still have a few injury concerns for tomorrow with Duff, Petric and Riise still out. Riise’s injury is providing a good opportunity for Matthew Briggs to make an impact and so far he has impressed. Briggs has had a strange career so far as he became the youngest ever PL player after an appearance whenever he was just 16 but he has never really had a solid run in the first team. I am a big fan of Riise but recent mistakes by the Norwegian could provide Briggs with a way in for a more important role in the squad.
Our opponents tomorrow, Blackpool, have been in a bit of a recent slump themselves so if we play the football I know we can play then we should progress into the next round. The last time they played at the Cottage we came away with a very comfortable 3-0 victory so let’s hope we see more of the same tomorrow.