While cup competitions like the FA Cup may appear to be just another roadblock to Sunderland’s promotion aspirations, Phil Parkinson has had only good things to say about the competition this week. The manager admitted that regardless of which round or phase of the cup it is, it is important to take part.
“It still has a great feel about it whether it’s the first round or the third round, where Sunderland are historically used to entering the competition,” said Parkinson. “The club has got a lot of history in the competition and we want to represent the club properly tomorrow.” (safc.com)
With Sunderland taking a break from EFL Football League One matches until November 23, Parkinson sees this as an opportunity for the club to build some winning momentum. This momentum can be used to get the team ready for the eventual league play they will have to endure. But the comments from Parkinson suggest that he has aspirations of going as far as he can in the competition.
“The FA Cup, for me, is still a great competition,” said Parkinson.
But regardless of Parkinson’s personal feelings towards the cup, is it really a good idea to give it that much importance? Sunderland already have two games in hand in the league and have just announced another match cancellation against Bristol Rovers (safc.com). That will bring their games in hand tally to three. And while that may look promising on the table, with Sunderland having a better perspective of what they need to do to catch the teams in front of them, it could be a huge hindrance.
Fatigue can play a big role in the success or failure of a team, especially in the lower divisions. The longer Parkinson goes in the cup, it could result in further schedule changes down the line. Instead of playing his first team in an attempt to win, perhaps the boss should focus on player rotations. This isn’t to say that he shouldn’t do his best to go as far as he can, but perhaps he can be a bit more experimental with his team selections. Who knows, maybe that’s the way he will find his team’s winning formula?