Mark Hughes hopes to continue FA Cup love affair
Hughes won the trophy four times as a player.
Mark Hughes is hoping to continue his love affair with the FA Cup on Sunday by leading Southampton to the final.
Saints take on Chelsea in the semi-final at Wembley as they aim to take their minds off a relegation battle in the Premier League.
Hughes’ name is already in FA Cup folkore, winning the trophy four times, while he also managed Blackburn to the last four twice in three years, and his iconic semi-final goal for Manchester United against Oldham in 1994 is still one of the most talked about strikes of his career.
The clash with the London club will be the first chance Hughes has had to manage at Wembley, though, and it is an afternoon he is relishing.
“I am looking forward to it. I got to a number of cup finals as a player and I got to a number of cup finals as a manager, but never been able to lead a team out at Wembley,” he said.
“It’s a game for us where it’s a one-off game and we need a huge effort to try and overcome a good Chelsea team.
“The competition itself is one that has figured highly in my career as a player and as a manager. I have always enjoyed the challenge of it.
“When you get to the latter stages, clearly everybody wants to win. The earlier stages in this day and age, it wasn’t always the case as for a lot of the big boys the FA Cup is lower down in their list of priorities.
“But funnily enough as you get nearer to semi-finals and finals, all of a sudden their priorities change.
“They gain a little bit more interest in it, but it is what it is. It’s a great competition and it has a huge interest right across the world and rightly so, it’s fantastic in terms of the affect it has on football people.
“It’s a fixture and a date in the calendar that everybody looks forward to.”
That said, Hughes would undoubtedly swap a win on Sunday for avoiding the drop to the Championship, something which looks quite possible as they sit four points adrift of safety with four games left to play.
Hughes is hoping for a double win, booking a place in one of the biggest games in English football and also using it as a springboard for their relegation fight.
“We can still learn from the game itself and that is good from my point of view, in terms of leading into the Bournemouth game,” Hughes said.
“We are going to have a free week as well leading into that game after the game on Sunday so that is important for us.
“Anything that we learn or feel we can introduce, having seen it against Chelsea will be a benefit to us.
“I think it is fair to say that we will have a go and give it our best shot and see where it takes us.”