Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Should AFCB's Cup runs look to beyond quarter finals?

There has been quite a line of seasons when AFCB have flirted with the quarter finals of cup competitions in the last few years. It is clear that the club has a squad of players that could challenge in the latter parts of competitions now and while that has been evident with the progress the team has made to get into the Premier League, it is a balancing act to get the side into the last few rounds of the EFL Cup and the FA Cup.

There has been a bit of disappointment whenever AFCB do progress to the keenly contested rounds like last season when Liverpool knocked the Cherries out in the Fourth round of the EFL Cup and the Cherries fielded a weaker side than they might at home against Everton in the FA Cup Fifth Round. So it might be tempting to see some more first team players gently introduced to these games as the side comes up against stronger sides, but with the Premier League being such a priority the glory days of getting to Wembley have taken a hit for most fans. While most of us would probably love a day out at Wembley, it will also be important to not over stretch the squad and be ready for the famed 'six pointer' games that will soon rear up in the league.
Evening Cup game sunder the lights at Dean Court - guaranteed excitement!
It is a difficult balance for Howe to get right. He has players that have not played who want their chance to impress and a few players that need to play themselves into form. While these reasons should see a fairly rotational line up for the Preston match tonight, there has to be a time in these competitions when AFCB actually have a go at trying to get to a semi-final or final and I'd argue that has not been a real possibility in the past. Now AFCB have the players, but do they want to take the risk of getting closer to a trophy with the pressure already mounting in the league? I think it depends where AFCB are in the Premier League when the latter rounds of the cup competitions arrive and if, of course, teams like Preston have not already knocked the Cherries out. Mid-table is not exactly a safe place to go on a cup run - ask Crystal Palace fans. But AFCB are scraping just to keep out of the bottom three - so is it fair on the players to even talk of cup runs?

At this stage, I'd argue that they should just enjoy the games for what they are. Another chance to play some good football in a competitive match. Try and build the wins and start feeling good about themselves. It should not be a seen as a burden or an insurmountable object but more of an exercise to put on the field what they have been learning in training and getting more of a feel for evening games at Dean Court. If the players can soak up the atmosphere and relish being talked about a favourites for a change, then it may just fire them up into performing, which is what everyone wants. Enjoy teh game tonight - UTCIAD! 

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