This evening we anticipate a thorough test from Cardiff City, a side currently demonstrating an overall ability that far exceeds their Second Division status. They are deservedly sitting on top of their division and proved against Leeds last season that they are capable of beating any side on their day.
I well remember playing at Ninian Park in the old Second Division back in 1977 and have always respected Cardiff as a proud club with a great tradition. Manager Lennie Lawrence is using all his experience to re-build the side and we welcome Lennie, his staff and players for what should be a fascinating clash.
Cardiff will certainly ask us questions all over the field and there is no doubt that we must match their workrate before we can bring our extra quality to bear.
However, if we take our foot off the gas we will pay the price. I rate this as potentially the most attractive tie of the round and our sole focus will be to ensure our name is in the hat for the third round.
Cup nights are always special here at the Lane. We enjoyed a marvellous run in the Worthington Cup last season but obviously our memories are tarnished by the fact that we fell at the last hurdle. Having worked so hard to get there, it was so disappointing to fail to produce our best in the final.
I appreciate that some of the top sides may rate this competition as lacking the kudos of others but we’ll certainly be taking it seriously as it remains a major route into Europe. Having said that, I would also love the opportunity to rest players or maybe try different tactics in terms of personnel but our injury problems continue to make this impossible — and they became worse after Saturday’s defeat here by Middlesbrough.
It’s frustrating that we literally have a perfectly balanced team good enough to grace the Premiership sitting in the treatment room.
However, we can have no excuses for what happened against Boro — we were poor while they played very well. We just weren’t there from the first minute and couldn’t even do the simple things right. I have not seen us play so poorly in my time here but if you play like that at this level that’s what you get.
I can’t understand it because you could not see that performance coming. We had done well at Manchester United but we’re having to play people out of position and you can’t get away with that over a period of games.
Still, we’ve had a couple of days to put things right and now must pick ourselves up right from the kick-off. We need to quickly get that game out of our system and get back on a winning track.
In closing, I’m definitely looking forward to Jürgen Klinsmann’s return here on October 17 and am already back in training myself as I know he’ll return here fit as a butcher’s dog! I was amazed when I was told that my last competitive game here was back in 1987 but I am determined to be out there as this is an excellent cause.
The idea of raising money for players from our past who have fallen on hard times is such a generous gesture that it deserves our total support and with prices starting at a fiver for kids, we can anticipate a packed house and a marvellous game of football with D.C. United.
Since I have been back at the club, your support has been fantastic, there is no better word for it. We understand that you were all disgruntled on Saturday and you’ll hear no excuses from me, the players or the staff. We were poor on the day and when we play like that we appreciate your frustration. But we’ll need you tonight more than ever — get right behind the lads from the first minute to the last and we’ll do this job together.