Fulham boss Scott Parker has had to educate his players on the history of the FA Cup ahead of their fourth-round clash with holders Manchester City.
Parker is preparing his side for a daunting trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and is someone who remembers when the competition was the most cherished in the game.
The rich rewards of the Premier League and its punishing Christmas schedule have seen that change while even lower-league teams have not fielded full-strength teams in recent years.
Parker has happy memories of when the FA Cup final was one of the biggest events in the television calendar but admits that is lost on the current generation of players.
Parker said: “Does it mean as much to players now? It’s a different generation but I’m from a generation that was brought up around it.
“It’s my job to bring that across to the players and send that message. It’s like when you’re bringing up your kids and trying to educate them on history. It’s for us to go out there and respect it.
“When I was a child, I remember waking up on cup final morning and watching the build-up, whether it was the teams coming out of the hotels or the helicopter following the coaches.”
City boss Pep Guardiola has spoken this week about the prospect of scrapping one of the cup competitions but Parker does not agree.
“Maybe I would think along those lines if I was in four competitions and had the Champions League to worry about,” he added.
“Coming out of the Christmas period, when the games have been relentless, every team, right down to League One – their squads have been decimated.
“It’s a consequence of the amount of football we’ve had to play in December, really. I can see why that’s the view. But I’m a massive defender of the FA Cup.
“I do feel over the last two years it’s coming back to where it should be. It’s been diluted by changing kick-off times and things.
“But for me personally, the upsets, the away games in tiny makeshift stadiums, that’s what’s so magical. I think we have to keep driving that, not diluting it.”
Parker will not be making massive changes to his side as he is not in a position to do so.
The Cottagers, whose primary aim is to win promotion from the Championship this season, have a number of injuries, with key men Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara among those condemned to the treatment room.
“We have a few injuries and we’re down to the bones in that sense. We have a considerable amount of injuries so we’ll field a team of fit players,” he said.
“We haven’t got much room to change too much around. It’s a big game for us, a different challenge to what we’re used to, and we’re looking forward to it.”
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