Friday night sees Cambridge United take on Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round at the R Costings Abbey Stadium. Cambridge are the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition, sitting in 12th place in League Two, 75 league positions behind their FA Cup opponents. It is a David versus Goliath match that could result in one of the biggest giant killings in FA Cup history. Clara Buxton conducted private interviews with the U’s manager and CEO ahead of the clast.
Speaking about the moment the club drew Manchester United, Cambridge manager Richard Money quipped; “before the draw you always prepare yourself for the worst and then when you get the best, the emotion is incredible. You just want to jump to the ceiling but try and keep cool for the cameras!”
Jez George, Cambridge’s CEO, echoed these sentiments; “it’s a massive night for the club and the supporters. I think you appreciate the good times more when you’ve had some tough times and this club has had a difficult ten years. The last twelve months have galvanised the support. Winning the FA Trophy was wonderful and earning promotion was the most important achievement. This is the icing on the cake. One of the biggest clubs in the world is coming to our ground."
Cambridge go into the game off the back of a win against Carlisle United and a 4-0 thrashing of Newport County. Money was quick to recognise the positive influence the results could have on Friday: “we weren’t good at Carlisle but we got the result and it’s the three points that are important on the day. Saturday [against Newport] we were able to win and play well. The quality of that performance can only give us confidence and make the players feel good about themselves. Belief will be vital."
Money is optimistic that Friday’s game will be part of a lasting legacy for Cambridge United. Speaking at the pre-match press conference on Monday he said, “It’s an opportunity to showcase not just the club, but the city. An opportunity to continue to build a good club, to have a full house for at least the rest of the season and maybe to have more season ticket holders next year. We want the club to grow on and off the pitch. There aren’t many cities in the country as good as this one."
George was similarly hopeful that the club’s FA Cup success this year will have a knock on effect in terms of expanding the fan base and identified engaging with the university as a “long term project." “It’s a frustrating task. I’m told the location is difficult for the students, being a little way out of town but we have had a really good 18 months working with the University Blues team and hopefully we can attract more students here on a weekly basis."
As for the home fans who will be present Friday, Money’s expectations are very simple: “I hope they come to the game full of optimism."
The last time the teams met in 1991, the Red Devils ran out victorious in a 4-1 League Cup aggregate win. Despite this, the Red Devils have suffered some humiliating encounters with lower league opposition, famously losing 4-0 to MK Dons in the League Cup last August.