Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton believes that although the dynamic of the FA Cup has changed in recent years, the tournament still retains it’s character and charm.
The Seagulls host Crystal Palace this evening at the Amex Stadium, and the boss explained that the competition still holds significance for both him and the football club.
He said, “The whole package of the cup has been changed by the way the sport has changed, particularly the Premier League and the other divisions and the desire for teams to stay in them.
“If anything there’s more pressure on managers and clubs to stay in divisions because the financial rewards are higher than they have ever been, so the dynamics have changed.
“But I don’t think you’ll find anyone devalue the FA Cup and it’s still the same trophy, but generally there are a few sides who have the capabilities to go all the way and win it.
“I know the competition very well – it’s been kind to both this club and myself, I have fond memories of it and I know what it means to this club and that won't change.
“Every player will know they’re playing in a big FA Cup tie and the feeling when the cup match kicks off won’t ever change.”
The Albion boss also discussed the changes that teams make at various stages of cup competitions in sport, pointing to the fact that sides will have different factors determining their team selections.
Hughton highlighted the fact, once more, that teams now rely on their league status across all divisions first and foremost.
“Each club will be thinking about how far they can make progress and if it will detreminentally affect their league position, so you ask - what chances do you take?
“Tottenham were very much a cup side when I was there, and there are probably other teams nowadays that have been very strong in the cup.
“In that period, apart from one year, we were not going to win the league, but generally the league and cup teams wouldn’t have been any different.”
“Many years ago an FA Cup tie would have exactly the same players if a team had a league game the week before and then an FA Cup tie, there would be no changes and it would be the same team, the most consistent team.
“That is not the norm these days, and you will see Championship teams making wholesale changes. It is just a change that we have and a reliance on protecting what you have, making sure you can compete and stay in the division you are in.”
The cup contest tonight against Roy Hodgson’s men comes after the Seagulls contested 11 Premier League matches in six weeks, including four in nine days over the notoriously busy festive period.
Hughton feels that one of those contests in the latter mentioned period could be taken away in order to ease the burden on both the clubs and their supporters.
“I think firstly that there isn’t any manager or player who mind too much about the number of fixtures over a period of the season as whole, because everybody has to play the same number of games.
“We played two games in three days and in many ways I thought our energy levels in the second looked better than the first - but I think at least one of the matches needs to come out, it’s a combination of a lot of things.
“For supporters, four games in nine days is a big ask with the expenses of travelling to the matches – some teams get a bigger break than others and I think it should be the same for everybody in terms of the amount of days between matches.”
Albion supporters can watch Chris Hughton’s full look ahead to tonight’s game with Crystal Palace on Seagulls TV above and can subscribe by clicking here.