Sunderland manager Gus Poyet vowed to continue to respect the cup competitions after his side beat Leeds United in the FA Cup in their latest knockout success under the Uruguayan.
Sunderland booked a place in Monday’s fourth-round draw as Patrick van Aanholt’s first-half goal on Sunday produced a repeat of the 1-0 scoreline from their celebrated Wembley victory over Leeds in the 1973 final.
Last season, Sunderland reached the final of the League Cup, where they lost to Manchester City, and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and Poyet is determined to maintain his policy of sending out his strongest available side, despite rival top-flight managers doing otherwise.
The Wearside club are just three points above the bottom three in the Premier League, but Poyet — who spent 12 months as assistant to former Leeds manager Dennis Wise in 2006 and 2007 — insists that will not deflect him from taking the cup seriously.
“We made a few changes from the other day, but we put a good team out,” he said.
“We needed to win at home. It’s been quite embarrassing that we’ve played at home for four months this season, but won only once before this, so it helps with confidence for our next game against Liverpool.
“I love this competition, and if you can progress to the later stages, then it can bring you together and be a real benefit. I don’t think it’s a distraction, playing football.
“If someone thinks it’s a distraction, playing football mid-week or whenever, then he should go to the casino, or to the cinema instead.”
Leeds, who are without a win in six games, did almost enough to reward their 5,200 travelling fans with a replay after a much-improved second-half display, with defender Liam Cooper’s last-minute header hitting the woodwork.
The reign of manager Neil Redfearn’s predecessor, Darko Milanic, ended after only 32 days due to a run of six winless games, but Redfearn said he does not feel under pressure despite having overseen only two victories in 11 matches since stepping up from his caretaker role in November.
– ‘New faces’ –
“I thought we played really well and were the better side by quite a stretch in the second half,” said the 49-year-old.
“We should have had a second-half penalty and if we’d scored we’d have gone on to win it.”
The Championship strugglers face an uncertain future, with the club’s owner, Massimo Cellino, set to have his appeal against his disqualification by the Football League heard on January 15.
The League claimed the 58-year-old breached its ‘fit and proper’ ownership test after being found guilty of tax evasion in his native Italy.
Cellino would have been banned until March 18 if he had not appealed, but that date will be pushed back if he fails to overturn his disqualification.
Cellino was fined £500,000 ($766,000, 639,000 euros) in March after being found guilty of failing to pay import duty on his yacht.
The League subsequently blocked his deal to take over at Elland Road, but an independent QC overturned the decision on appeal in April, allowing the takeover to go through.
Leeds, three-time English champions, are currently under a transfer embargo under Financial Fair Play regulations, but they are able to add free transfer acquisitions to their squad.
“I’d like to think we’ll have some new faces in soon,” said Redfearn, whose side are currently a point above the Championship relegation zone.
“We need two or three, so hopefully we’ll bring the right type of players in.”