Chris Smalling admits the FA Cup third round draw could have been kinder to United after the Reds were handed an away trip to West Ham on Saturday, but the defender insists confidence is high in the squad with everyone determined to make their mark in the cup this season.
Sir Alex’s men have been left frustrated in the competition since 2004, the year of United’s last FA Cup triumph. Two defeats in finals (2005 and 2007) have since followed, while the Reds have tasted defeat in the last four of the competition in two of the last four seasons.
With the Reds faring well in the league and the Champions League put to bed until next month, Smalling says a successful FA Cup run is uppermost on the players’ priority list.
“We’ve haven’t done too well in the cup in the last few years and the manager has made that point to us,” he told ManUtd.com and PA Sport. “We need to make sure we get back on track in the competition, especially as the league is going well and we’re into the Champions League knock-out stages. We want to do well in the cup as well.
“The FA Cup has always been a massive competition. You’ve got the situation where lower league teams have the chance to play some of the top sides and it can be a real adventure for a lot of sides. We’ve not got an easy game, but I’m sure it’ll be a good, competitive one.”
The Reds will be up against a West Ham side, promoted back to the top flight this term, who have lost two of their last three home games. But Smalling still fully expects the Hammers to make the Saturday tea-time clash a testing encounter.
“We expect a tough game. When I saw the draw I thought it wasn’t the easiest one we could have had, but it’ll be a good atmosphere and Upton Park is always somewhere I’ve enjoyed playing," he added.
“Sam Allardyce has done very well and got a good team together. The fans really get behind them, especially at Upton Park, and that will make it more difficult for us