DONCASTER Rovers’ manager Paul Dickov returns to Oldham Athletic today for the first time since his finest managerial hour there in January, 2013 with his sights on conjuring some more money-spinning FA Cup magic.
Dickov’s last game in charge at Boundary Park proved a fateful one, with the Latics becoming the talk of the nation after beating Premier League Liverpool 3-2 in a third-round stunner – only for their manager to leave the club seven days later.
While the 42-year-old ultimately paid the price for poor league form that shock victory and another plum draw in round four against Everton at least provided a bumper windfall to put the cash-strapped club back on an even keel.
The lucrative third-round tie with Liverpool was earned by beating Rovers in the previous round and now the Scot is aiming to secure a similar mouth-watering prize, but this time for Doncaster, in Monday night’s draw in Hull.
Second-round winners this weekend will see their coffers boosted by £27,000, with the prize money for winners in next month’s third round being £67,500.
For clubs where finances are tight such as Rovers, it represents a lifeline, with Dickov revealing that a portion of the cash that the club made in reaching round three of the Capital One Cup earlier this season helped him bring in some much-needed loan signings to boost his squad.
If Rovers were to land a big FA Cup draw next month further money will be set aside for squad investment in the January window.
Dickov said: “The FA Cup is massive and I know through my own experience at Oldham that it can make the club a lot of money.
“In my time there, we drew Liverpool twice and there was the Everton game.
“When you get a big club, there is also a chance of getting a TV game, which a lot of finances are involved in as well.
“If that can help towards the budget to strengthen your squad in January, it is fantastic.
“If we do well in the cup competitions there will be money that gets put back in. We did reasonably well in the Capital One Cup and it was not wholly, but partly a factor in bringing in the players we have done as well.”
Dickov hopes he will receive a positive reaction from Latics fans today and insists he has no hard feelings towards the board.
Ongoing problems behind the scenes, with three of Dickov’s backroom staff placed on gardening leave in December, 2012, allied to poor league form, culminated in his exit although his memories of his experience there remain untarnished.
He said: “I have got fantastic memories of my time there. It is ironic that my last game as manager there at Boundary Park was an FA Cup tie against Liverpool.
“The FA Cup chucks up these sort of stories all the time. It is my first time back there and a tie I am really looking forward to.
“It is a competition that is very close to me. It was as a player and it has been very good to me as a manager as well.”
The FA Cup may have provided Dickov with his sweetest moment as a manager, but he believes the competition can also “define careers” and says ex-Leeds United striker Matt Smith, who scored two goals in the win over Liverpool, is a case in point.
He added: “I spoke to a couple of my players and used Matt Smith as an example. Matt was struggling a little bit up until that Liverpool game and, overnight, he hit that national spotlight and his own personal footballing future went through the roof.
“Matt is a great lad and I am delighted where he is now (on loan at Bristol City from Fulham), but I have no doubt about it that one game really put him up there.
“You can also go back to DJ Campbell a few years ago, who went from the non-league and scored for Brentford and got big moves. These sorts of games can define people’s careers.”
Sheffield United – who last season became the first third-tier side to reach the Cup semi-final at the new-look Wembley – are also in action this afternoon against Plymouth Argyle at Bramall Lane.
Barnsley and Bradford City aim to avoid succumbing to giant-killings at home to non-league opponents Chester FC and Dartford respectively tomorrow (both 2pm).
You have to go back to 1975-76 for the last time the Reds lost to a side from outside the Football League in the Cup, when they succumbed 3-1 at Marine.
The Bantams’ previous defeat to non-league opponents arrived in a 2-1 reverse at famed Eighties shock Cup exponents Telford United in 1984-85.