Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton knows the importance of the Emirates FA Cup to the club’s supporters ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final against Millwall at The Den.
The Seagulls travel to south London looking to book their place in the last four of the competition for only the second time in the club’s history, and the boss acknowledged the significance of the tournament to the fans.
He said, “There’s a good feel and it’s normal – any team that gets to this stage of the competition are always going to be dreaming and thinking about the last four.
“That’s the way you have to think, there’s no point approaching the contest thinking you won’t win, you have to be confident in your ability to go through.
“All of that excitement is normal, particularly from the fans because it means a lot to them – for a club of our level to have the possibility to be in the latter stages is always tough, and the opportunity this year is open to a few clubs.
“I know what those big moments at places like Wembley Stadium mean to supporters.”
Ahead of the contest with Neil Harris’s men this weekend, Hughton also reflected on where progress to the semi-final stage would rank in terms of his achievements during his time on the south coast so far.
“By the far the most important moment has been getting this club promoted to the Premier League.
“But in our calendar there are some big dates, and when these cup matches come around they are always big occasions.
“Clubs at our level are always going to find it difficult to get to the latter stages of these competitions because of the quality of the other Premier league clubs and the depth their squads have.
“To have got to this stage with an opportunity to get through to the last four is right up there during my period of time here.”
Sunday’s opposition come into the game on the back of a 2-0 victory in the Sky Bet Championship in the week, and the Albion boss looked ahead to facing the Lions following their three points in the Midlands.
“I went to see them on Wednesday night against Birmingham City and I thought they were very good, it will be a difficult and tough game. They will be lifted by that result because it was one they needed in the league.
“Factoring in things like their home fans are the balances, we’ll start the game as favourites because we’re the top-flight team, but they’re in front of their supporters on the back of a Premier League scalp in the last round, which shows what they’re capable of doing.
“I don’t see this game as any easier than the one last Saturday [against Crystal Palace] – we’ll have to show the same type of mentality and quality that we showed in that game.
“It’s about knowing what to expect and we have to deal with it on Sunday, there won’t be anybody around here that will underestimate the opposition.”