When Andy Robinson*‘s ‘Who are You?’ interview was published before Sunderland played Andy’s club Burnley, we agreed he would also do the honours for the FA Cup game a week later. That game is almost upon us and Andy’s comments on the FA Cup, and what it means to him, will endear him to many readers just as did last week’s interview. As for the game at Turf Moor, Saturday, safe to say Andy enjoyed it more than us. He starts with his reflections on Burnley 4-1 SAFC – leading to his thoughts on this weekend’s match …
Salut! Sunderland: OK, we’re ready for the hit. How was New Year’s eve for you?
Andy: Happy new year, although I’m sure it doesn’t feel like that to you from a football perspective. It’s a little difficult to know what to write to a Sunderland fan after that but it could be best summed up by saying that you made it easy for us.
I know that you have had some injuries in defence but even allowing for that I was surprised that you played such a high line with slow centre halves and the full backs offering no cover.
I’m not sure if David Moyes had read the scouting report but, whilst he is far from the complete striker, Andre Gray is fast, strong and will hit the target if given the chance. Alongside him Ashley Barnes was such a handful that it just gave Gray even more space and that was the tale of the game for me. It was over at 3-0 after 54 minutes.
Apart from that I will leave any detailed analysis of the Sunderland performance to yourselves.
And now tell us honestly, how important is the FA Cup 3rd to you?
Like everyone else it used to be massive but now it seems to matter less each year. I blame the FA for presiding over the downfall of the best domestic cup competition in world football.
Whatever your answer to that, say you were offered the trophy but also relegation. Close-run thing or an easy decision one way or the other?
I would exchange an FA Cup win for relegation all day long. As fans we should live for moments of glory not mid table mediocrity, easy decision!
Burnley’s one win was in the 1914 final and there have been runners-up visits to Wembley twice since but nothing since 1962. Does that seriously bother you or has the cup lost its allure anyway?
I would love to win the FA Cup in my lifetime but I don’t expect it to happen. Last time we were in the semi final was 1974 and I still remember fans leaving on the morning of the game (I was deemed too young to attend) and we haven’t been to another semi since.
From what you know of FA Cup history and your own team’s involvement, what moments stand out in the memory, whether you’re there or saw/have seen them on TV?
Since the 1974 semi we’ve been to the quarter final twice and I wasn’t able to attend either of the games so I do feel a bit deprived. The best in recent years was when we beat Liverpool 1-0 in the 3rd round with the Traore back heel own goal. I was right behind the goal he scored it in and there was a wonderful second where you knew the ball had got away from him and was going in!
Go on – guess the score. You might win something no matter who you support: https://safc.blog/2017/01/sunderland-vs-burnley-aiming-for-revenge-in-fa-cup-guess-the-score/
What sort of team do you reckon Sean Dyche will put out on the day? And since, like lots of clubs, we get notoriously poor gates for FA and League Cup games, do you expect many Burnley fans to travel?
Last season we played Middlesbrough away in the 3rd round and from memory he made four or five changes and I would expect something similar. That game was also £10 entry and I think we took about 1,500 so again would expect the same. In that game we were awful in the first half but came back to win 2-1, losing to Arsenal away in the next round but apart from that went unbeaten in 23 to the end of the Championship season. I don’t think we were given enough credit for doing that.
What will be the outcome?
When the draw was made I did joke that it would be a match that both teams would be trying to lose but the other side to that is that many saw the win at Middlesbrough in the cup last season as being a turning point so I would actually like to win. 2-1 to Burnley
* Andy Robinson on himself: Went to my first game at Turf Moor in 1971 and haven’t missed many since then but virtually an ever present at home since 1986. These days I limit away trips to three or four a season. I like to be positive rather than a moaner!Looking back on our win against you from a Burnley perspective, we have six points from the Christmas and New Year games and are nine points clear of the relegation places so we couldn’t be happier with how the season is going.
As far as the FA Cup game goes I don’t think it changes that much. I’d certainly like to win, not least because it would give us some confidence away from home but if we lose then I’m not going to lose any sleep. Having a bit of a cushion from the bottom three might let us play with a bit more freedom and may see us rest fewer players. I don’t think Sunderland can play any worse no matter who you pick.
Cheers and good luck for the rest of the season apart from the games against us!
Interview: Colin Randall