Kidd reveals FA Cup fears

Now 61, the Manchester City assistant-boss grew up in an era when

the competition was regarded as one of the biggest days in the

entire football calendar. He was fortunate to experience that

winning feeling at Wembley twice during his time on Sir Alex

Ferguson’s coaching team at Manchester United and on Sunday is

hoping to reach the fifth round of this season’s competition as

City entertain Notts County in a fourth-round replay. But Kidd is

also acutely aware the FA Cup is not what it was. With Premier

League survival now becoming increasingly important to those in the

top flight not already pre-occupied by European glory, the world’s

oldest knockout competition has taken a back seat. Turning the

competition into a midweek event and abandoning replays have been

suggested as two ways of breathing fresh life into the tournament.

But Kidd is not convinced either would work. “It is up to the

powers that be to see if they can do something,” he said. “The FA

Cup was a fantastic occasion. People say you are old fashioned and

times have changed but it was a memorable day. “Every supporter in

the land watched the FA Cup final. It wasn’t just if your team was

there. You had the brass band, the singing, the white suits. It was

fantastic. I suppose the modern ones don’t want that now do they?”

Certainly club chief executives are not keen on sacrificing their

league places given the money that is accrued through Premier

League status. “If I am honest, it has a bit to do,” said Kidd,

when asked if the FA Cup could recapture former glories. “Football

has changed dramatically. Clubs who are not fortunate enough to

have strength in depth want to stop in the league because of what

goes with it. “The FA Cup has been diluted a little bit.” That is

not to say City are ignoring it. As they approach 35 years since

their last piece of silverware, the Blues are desperate to get

their hands on anything. Barring a bizarre sequence of results, any

lingering hope of Premier League glory was ended with that derby

defeat at Manchester United last weekend, which leaves just two

chances of ending that barren run this term. A place in the last 16

of the Europa League is by no means secure following a goalless

first leg with Aris in Greece on Tuesday, so a Notts County outfit

managed by Paul Ince is not going to be taken for granted. “The

importance of this tournament cannot be underestimated,” said Kidd.

“Once you win a trophy it is intoxicating. It is a great feeling.

“The length of time is there as well. You can’t get away from the

fact it has been so many years since we won a trophy. “But it is

like getting an injection. You want more of it.” Mancini needs to

check on the fitness of Nigel de Jong and James Milner before

finalising his starting line-up, although Mario Balotelli is

certain to be involved after recovering from a knee injury. Shaun

Wright-Phillips’ services will also be required even though it

appears increasingly likely the England star will quit City this

summer after finding himself squeezed out of the first-team picture

completely until Adam Johnson suffered the ankle injury that has

ruled him out for three months. “There is not a problem with

Shaun,” said Kidd. “I am not privy to what is going on behind the

scenes but he has a really good mentality and is going to be a very

important part of our squad from now until the end of the season.”