SIMON GRAYSON, who famously knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup when in charge of League One Leeds United, insists the thought of having a second crack at humbling the 13-times Premier League champions is not even in his mind ahead of tonight’s replay at Sheffield United.
The Blades host Grayson’s Preston North End in a replay knowing that either Louis van Gaal’s side or Cambridge United await in the fifth round.
With BT Sport having already selected the tie for live broadcast on Monday, February 16, tonight’s victor at Bramall Lane is guaranteed a cash windfall that would include £90,000 in prize money for getting past the fourth round and a broadcast fee of £247,500.
The proceeds from what would likely be a sold-out Bramall Lane or Deepdale would also significantly swell the coffers.
Preston chief Grayson, whose Leeds side triumphed 1-0 at Old Trafford a little over five years ago, last night told The Yorkshire Post: “A lot of people reminded me about the Leeds win when the draw was made. Obviously, it is a day that will go down in my memory for years to come.
“It would be fantastic to get a chance to pit my wits against Manchester United again. But that isn’t in my mind. This is a fourth-round replay and a tough one at that. This is a great opportunity for both clubs and one we are totally focused on.
“I said to Nigel (Clough) with five minutes to go in the first game that we could both do without a replay. Equally, though, we were both desperate to stay in the Cup. The value of that was shown when the draw was made the following Monday.”
Both United and Preston, the latter losing finalists in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern area final last month, face punishing schedules in the league on the back of success in knockout football.
For the Blades, the runs to the semi-finals of the FA and League Cups in the last two seasons have provided fans with a host of memories that will be treasured for life and assistant manager Chris Morgan believes booking a home tie against Manchester United will guarantee another. Morgan added: “What a great incentive for us to go out and beat Preston – a possible home tie with one of the biggest, richest and most famous clubs in the world.
“We have already beaten a handful of Premier League teams in the FA and League Cups over the past season and a half, and we pushed Spurs all the way last week.
“We showed what we’re capable of and why we fear no one.
“If we get past Preston and it is Manchester United we play, then it will be another great night, another great atmosphere at Bramall Lane. Another game that, at home, we genuinely think we can win.
“MK Dons knocked Manchester United out of the Capital One Cup earlier this season, and that has boosted our confidence as well.
“If it happens, it will be our toughest Cup test because we will be taking on one of Europe’s elite.
“United have been challenging on all fronts for so many years now, although they have missed out on Europe this season.
“But we have a job to do first and no one is getting carried away, saying, ‘We have got Manchester United’.
“Maybe when you look at who we have played in the cups over the past year or so, this isn’t the most glamorous tie we have had,” he said.
“But the potential prize at the end of it is huge.”
United claimed a replay 10 days ago thanks to an equaliser from Diego De Girolamo.
Match preview: Page 19.