Manager hoping to go one better in 2016Since our formation in 1871 – the same year as the first ever FA Cup tournament was first contested – we have reached the quarter-final of the competition on just six occasions from 129 attempts.
Half of those have been under the stewardship of Brian McDermott, who oversaw journeys to the final eight of the competition in 2010 and 2011 before repeating the feat this season, all during Championship campaigns.
Aston Villa and Man City respectively were the opponents on those occasions; the Villans overturned a two-goal deficit to win 4-2 at Madejski Stadium, while Man City were 1-0 victors the next year at the Etihad.
And now, after leading us to this stage for a third time, the Reading gaffer hopes that the team can negotiate the challenge ahead and book a trip to Wembley in the final four.
“They were good experiences, especially the first half against Villa – forget the second half!” said the Royals boss. “In the Man City game, there was nothing in it and it was 0-0 until they scored from a set-play after 70-odd minutes through Micah Richards.
“We were really unfortunate against Villa; we could have gone in three or four up, we played that well in the first half. I said to the guys at half-time, ‘look, it’s 2-0 – keep it tight for 15 minutes and I think we’ve got every chance of making sure we’ll be in the semi-final.’ 15 minutes later we were 3-2 down – so much for my team-talk!
“It would be fantastic to be able to walk out at Wembley, and that’s what it’s about. The FA Cup means an awful lot to this football club; to the fans, the players and the owners. We want to put on a really good performance and enjoy the occasion, which is really important, and we’ll see what the outcome is.”
With a capacity crowd in attendance, Brian is hoping to get the right result once more. Top-tier opposition in the shape of West Brom were beaten on our patch in the last round; while this will be a different occasion, we’re aiming for the same outcome.
“That was a different game [against West Brom] – this is another one,” he continued. “But we’ve got confidence as a squad and as a group; we’re looking forward to the occasion. It’ll be a sell-out at the Madejski for a Friday-night game, and we’re really looking forward to playing.
“As a manager, I’ve always loved playing at Madejski Stadium – especially the evening games where you get a special atmosphere. I think the crowd will be right up for it. Palace will also have a big following, which will make for a top-class quarter-final.”
A handful of single seats remain for this game as of Thursday morning; click here for information on match tickets.