ONE HUNDRED years after lifting the trophy for the one and only time, Barnsley begin another FA Cup adventure today against Swansea City.
Manager Keith Hill, however, is wary of making progress in the competition.
“Football and the world have evolved since 1912,” he said. “There have been massive changes and – although I suppose you can never say never – I still think we will see one of the top four clubs winning it again this season.
“Our priority is definitely the league and, let’s not forget, that this club’s last FA Cup run so nearly ended in relegation.”
The Tykes were just 90 minutes away from the final four seasons ago but lost to Cardiff City at Wembley after victories over both Chelsea and Liverpool.
Come the final day of the season, they had finished just three points clear of the Championship relegation zone, having lost 11 of the last 20 games.
“I have never been involved in a Cup run but I know it can bring a lot of exposure and make a difference to a town’s atmosphere,” said Hill. “There is always a massive carrot on the stick financially – which can make a difference in the transfer market and to the long term prospects of the football club – but there is also the possible trapdoor with that success.”
The Tykes have drawn tough opponents in the third round with Swansea 12th in the Premier League and renowned for playing attractive possession football.
“I am not being disrespectful but it is not the Carling Cup – which the elite tend to regard as a ‘reserve team’ Cup – and the likes of Swansea will take the FA Cup very seriously,” said Hill. “They play a really attractive game and I would ask our supporters to be a little bit patient because they might have more than the lion’s share of the possession. But it is a pressure-free game and there are always upsets in the FA Cup. We want to enjoy it and, hopefully, we can get through to the next round.”
Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers has vowed to make ‘very few changes’ to his side and may also hand a debut to Icelandic international midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Leeds United, meanwhile, are refusing to comment on claims that midfielder Michael Brown deliberately set out to injure Barnsley captain Jacob Butterfield,
Brown was not even booked for the challenge in the Yorkshire derby on New Year’s Eve but Butterfield - who is out for the rest of the season following knee surgery - is quoted as saying: “In my opinion, there was an intention to get me off the pitch from Leeds. I am not saying it was Michael personally but I believe they thought if they could stop me they could stop Barnsley. As I limped off, (Leeds manager) Simon Grayson asked me if I was OK? I told him that I thought he’d done it on purpose.”
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater has returned to Barnsley on loan from Manchester United until the end of the season.