People may say that it has lost some of its sparkle but anyone who believes that has certainly not played in a final.
For Spurs and our supporters there is a real passion for a tournament that I rate as the probably the biggest domestic knock-out competition in the world. We should be proud of it in this country and I know that all of us at Tottenham will be delighted if we can reach the last eight and progress from there.
But first we have to overcome Tranmere and that’s going to be tough.
What makes it even more difficult is that people will expect us to win and that is always the danger in the FA Cup which has been littered with upsets over the years.
You just have to look at Tranmere’s own exploits in recent times to see what potential giant-killers they represent. We will certainly be treating them with the utmost respect and ensuring that we are fully prepared because nothing short of a thorough, professional job will suffice this afternoon.
They are a team with many qualities including a work ethic for each other that we will need to match.
The fact that we have already defeated them on their own ground in the Worthington Cup earlier this season will mean nothing at kick-off this afternoon because if our attitude is not right we will suffer for it.
We’ve got to be on the front foot from the start and ensure that we are not added to Tranmere’s impressive list of scalps. So it won’t be easy but we’ve prepared well and I know that our lads will be up for it. We’ll be vigilant but also positive because we want to go all the way in this competition.
The early part of the week was a bit disjointed as we waited for all our players to return from international duty, hoping that we had no more injuries.
Thankfully they’re all back alright but it was disappointing for Ledley King that he had to pull out of the England squad due to tonsillitis and now we’re keeping our fingers crossed that he will be OK for today.
It was a massive blow for Ledley to miss out against Holland because he deserved that call on the back of so many excellent performances for us. Obviously he will be disappointed but he has the temperament to deal with the situation — and he’ll be back.
Darren Anderton was sent home because it was not worth taking the risk with a slight hamstring problem that has troubled him for the last couple of games. But he’s been back in full training and should be available for this afternoon’s match.
Stephen Clemence, Goran Bunjevcevic and Anthony Gardner have all returned to training with the senior group which is a good sign for us. It is important that we find some consistency and have a good run until the end of the season and, to that end, it is imperative that we have more strength in depth.
I was delighted with the result and performance against Leicester where we could have won by more but ended up with a nervous last 12-15 minutes which we could have done without. Matthew Etherington again came in to good effect and congratulations to him on his England Under-21 call-up. That opportunity reflects the good work that he has put in both here and during his loan spell at Bradford.
This is the start of a big week for the club. The next two games are obviously crucial to our whole season and I’ll be as proud when I lead out the side at the Millennium Stadium as I have ever been at any other time in my career.
It’s going to be a wonderful occasion and it will be great to have you with us because, as always, your support is vital to all that we do.
But Tranmere demand — and will receive — our full attention today and then we can start thinking of Cardiff. It’s one step at a time.
The FA Cup always sends a tingle down my spine and there is no doubt that this club shares a special affection with this famous competition.