Prior to Aston Villa's FA Cup match with Sheffield United, Paul Lambert espoused that he felt the competition was a hindrance, and that "if most managers were being honest, they would not take part because survival in the league is vital".
Lambert was initially reprimanded by the current FA Cup holder Roberto Martinez, former winner Jose Mourinho and Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood. Martinez likened favouring the league over the FA Cup like "choosing between your mum and dad".
Mourinho stated "for teams without European competition, playing 38 games a season, I don't see a reason for those clubs to not try to win matches. Even for the smallest clubs, where it is difficult to reach a final, the FA Cup has a special meaning."
Sherwood said "It's a massive competition for this football club, it's got a great tradition and history in this competition and we want to show it the respect. It's huge."
Unfortunately for Lambert, his wishes came to fruition as Sheffield United knocked out his team. As they did, the reprimand's turned into vitriol spewed from angry fans who ripped up their season tickets.
However, after Sam Allardyce admitted he would field a first eleven of seven or eight youngsters - a promise fulfilled as West Ham were battered 5-0 by Championship side Nottingham Forest, it is high time we evaluate whether or not the FA Cup is overrated.
Given the price for staying in the Premier League is worth millions, winning the FA Cup is worth only a paltry £1.8 million. Furthermore, despite all the romance and other flowery image associated with the FA Cup, it has been a tournament dominated by Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United since 1992. The original top four have been in the semi-final of the FA Cup in every year since 1992 apart from 2008; only Everton in 1996, Portsmouth in 2008, Manchester City in 2011 and Wigan in 2013 have prized the title away from the original top four since 1992.
With that in mind, the FA Cup is clearly does not live up to many of the romanticism it drums up. For example, the term most with the FA Cup: giant-killing, is clearly just a bunch of nonsense. It is a term reserved for teams such as West Ham who have relegation on their mind and field a team full of youngsters. When it comes down to it, the FA Cup is nine times out of ten left between the big boys to battle over.
However, it has been argued a defeatist attitude has a way of creeping into teams, regardless of whatever competition they are playing in and that a continuous winning streak builds a winning mentality. I would certainly argue that is the case for the bigger teams. Arsenal have shown several times in previous years how a defeat in one competition can lead to a disastrous run of form. The most famous example was the 2007/08 season, by January Arsenal had a comfortable lead in the Premier League. This continued into February until Man United defeated a weakened Arsenal 4-0 in the FA Cup. That match was quickly followed by self-capitulation in the Premier League against Birmingham.
Quite clearly psychology makes all the difference to the top teams fighting fatigue as they play 60+ games a year. Does this stack up with the smaller teams?
When smaller team have ventured far into the FA Cup, history tells us they are liable to be relegated such as: FA Cup semi-finalists Crystal Palace were relegated after reaching the FA Cup semi-finals in 1995, FA Cup finalists Middlesbrough in 1997 and Portsmouth in 2010, as well as FA Cup winners Wigan last season. Furthermore, when Birmingham beat Arsenal to win the Carling Cup, they were relegated in 2011.
When clubs from lower divisions make it far into the FA Cup, they also liable to either struggle in their division like Sunderland in 1992, Luton in 1994 and Millwall last season; or miss out on promotion like Chesterfield in 1997, Millwall in 2004 and Cardiff and Barnsley in 2008.
There is a heavy correlation between the smaller clubs progressing deeply into the cup competitions and relegation. In this sense Paul Lambert was correct in his assessment of the cup and Sam Allardyce was correct with the team he picked.
Generally speaking, extended cup runs are not built for sides below the likes of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. Even for mid-table sides like Swansea their are repercussions. Last season they may have finished 9th but after winning the Capitol One Cup they entered a dreadful run of form. This resulted in them losing more games than they won and being 15 points behind Liverpool in 7th and only 10 points ahead of Wigan who finished 18th.
Swansea enjoyed a relatively safe season due to the weakness of the league that year. In another season they very well may have plummeted down the table, surviving by the skin of their teeth.
Furthermore, the prize of winning the FA Cup - entry to the Europa League - is a complete joke. The competition is full of mid-tier teams and this is reflected in the money teams receive for playing in it. This is not to say that teams should try to win it, but for the smaller teams it can prove to be a hindrance to their season due to the amount of games they have to play.
With all this in mind, it is quite obvious the allure of the FA Cup is quite rightfully a distant second behind Premier League survival for smaller teams. The romance of the FA Cup came from the fact the prize money for going far in it and being in the Premier League was not as distinct and pronounced as it is now.
Furthermore, the Europa League (then the UEFA Cup) was a competition for teams that came second, third and fourth in their leagues - in many ways it was even harder than the Champions League as there were tough teams in every corner of the draw.
Now that none of these parameters exist, it has cheapened the FA Cup.