Steven Gerrard will NOT rest his best players for trip to Old Trafford as the FA Cup means too much to him… and insists Aston Villa MUST take competition seriously to end 26-year wait for a trophy
- Steven Gerrard takes Aston Villa to Old Trafford in the FA Cup on Monday night
- Former England midfielder lifted the FA Cup with Liverpool in 2001 and 2006
- Villa haven’t won a major trophy in 26 years since lifting the League Cup in 1996
- Gerrard insisted the FA Cup remains a very special trophy for the club
- Winner of Manchester United vs Villa will play Middlesbrough in fourth round
Steven Gerrard wrote his name into FA Cup folklore with his heroics in the 2006 final and expects Aston Villa players to follow his lead at Manchester United tonight.
With squads stretched to the limit by Covid-19 and the festive fixture list, many managers view the Cup as a chance to give their key men a breather.
However, as he prepared for a hot reception at Old Trafford, Gerrard made it clear he will take a different approach.
Steven Gerrard is determined to pile misery on Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday
The former Liverpool captain produced one of the all-time great Cup final displays against West Ham 16 years ago, and was also part of the Liverpool side that lifted the trophy in 2001.
‘We will pick the strongest possible team,’ confirmed Gerrard. ‘There is enough time to recover before the next game so it makes no sense to make wholesale changes.
‘The cup competitions should be looked at as opportunities to impress ourselves and our supporters. You would be very naive to underestimate this competition.
The former England international insisted the FA Cup remains a ‘very special’ trophy
‘Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the FA Cup will always be a very special trophy.
‘My message to the players is that they can have some of the highlights of their career in this competition. If you’re English you grow up watching the final and you dream of playing in it.
‘You actually create the scene in the street if you want to be footballer. I lived the dream — a good cup run can give you memories for the rest of your life.’
Gerrard acknowledged the size of the task — Villa’s win at Old Trafford in the league in September was their first against Manchester United in 12 years — but also highlighted the importance of winning the club’s first major trophy since 1996.
The Aston Villa manager enjoyed some memorable moments at Old Trafford as a player
Gerrard memorably kissed the TV camera after scoring for Liverpool against United
After an excellent start under Gerrard, Villa were beaten in their last two games, by Chelsea and Brentford, though the loan signing of Philippe Coutinho has raised expectations once more.
The Brazilian is expected to miss out on Monday night but is in line to make his debut against United at Villa Park in the league on Saturday.
Gerrard was just 15 when Villa beat Leeds in the League Cup final nearly 26 years ago and he knows it is high time they end that drought.
Gerrard won the FA Cup with Liverpool in 2006, producing a memorable display in the final
‘I understand the financial rewards of the Champions League and how big the Premier League has become, but we have to analyse what is possible,’ said the 41-year-old.
‘The FA Cup is our only chance to win a trophy this season. So we need to respect that and give this game everything we’ve got. We need to leave everything out there and show how important this Cup is.
‘We’ve got big league games on the horizon but while I’m Aston Villa manager I can guarantee we will approach every Cup game with respect.’
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