Pardew calls for scheduling change
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned the football authorities they need to alter the Christmas programme if the FA Cup is to retain its glamour.
Pardew has called on the match schedulers to ditch the round of league fixtures between Boxing Day and New Year's Day in order to allow clubs to field strong sides in the third round, which this weekend sees the Magpies and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff meet at St James' Park with each playing for a fifth time inside 15 days.
His comments came after Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert voiced the opinion that clubs struggling for Barclays Premier League survival could do without the FA Cup.
Pardew said: "I have got some opinions on this which I think most Premier League managers would share with me.
"The devaluation of this competition is the scheduling of it, and they really need to look at that because this will be our fifth game in 15 days.
"The FA Cup falls right on the back of the Christmas programme, and I think that is wrong.
"I think the league need to look at that, or the FA or whoever is in charge of the scheduling, and move it because I don't think it's right.
"I don't think it's fair on Premier League managers. I sympathise with Paul and I sympathise with a lot of the teams down at the bottom of the league, where they are going to be looking at their survival, which is financially massive.
"That needs to be looked at, in my opinion, if they want the FA Cup to go back to its former glories."
Pardew, whose side slipped out of the competition at Sky Bet Championship Brighton at the same stage last season while trying to drag itself away from the relegation zone, believes there is a straightforward solution to the problem.
He said: "The game on the 28th needn't be in the programme, and I think the FA Cup game then fits all right.
"The game on the 28th, in my knowledge of the history, was put in there because the holidays were around this time. But that's irrelevant now because we would still fill the stadiums if we had that game in August or September, so that really needs to come out, in my opinion."
Pardew nevertheless remains a fan of a competition in which he has reached the final as both player and manager.
While striking a balance between the demands of the Premier League and the financial implications of being part of it, and challenging for glory in the world's most famous club knock-out competition remains a headache, he is confident it is still hugely attractive.
He said: "Of course the glory is what we want. Managers and players, they want glory, we love all that. It builds our ego, it makes us confident, it makes us want to improve ourselves and have winning a trophy next to our name, so you will never change that."
Newcastle will go into Saturday's tie without suspended full-back Mathieu Debuchy, injured skipper Fabricio Coloccini - he could be sidelined for up to six weeks with a knee problem - and with doubts over keeper Tim Krul and midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no intention of taking the FA Cup lightly as he prepares to take charge of Cardiff for the first time.
It has been a whirlwind 48 hours for the Norwegian, who flew into London with owner Vincent Tan to watch the Bluebirds' defeat at Arsenal on Wednesday, before being unveiled as Malky Mackay's successor on Thursday.
It has left the former Manchester United striker with little time to prepare for the trip to Tyneside, with sodden conditions at Cardiff's training ground not helping matters.
With Premier League survival top of the Welsh club's agenda, Solsjkaer could be forgiven for looking to ease himself into life at his new club.
But, in the wake of Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert's claim the FA Cup was a distraction he could do without, Solskjaer will not accept anything less than 100 per cent in a competition he won twice as a player.
He said: "Every game is important. We know how close Cardiff were to lifting the cup a few years ago, so we go in there hoping to go through to the next round. The Premier League is very important but the FA Cup gives us a chance to build momentum.
"For me the game is great because it is the first game and I have had a six week break since the Norwegian Cup final and I am eager to get going.
"For me it is a way of getting into the job. Of course the Premier League is vital but now it is the FA Cup and the next game is the most important one.
"I think there is pressure in every football game. Every time you train and go out onto the pitch in the FA Cup, League Cup and Premier League there is a pressure on yourself and your pride says you go out and do your best.
"That is what you have to do. We are not going to go there and do 99 per cent, we go out there 100 per cent.
"I have had success in the FA Cup a couple of times and walking around waving to the fans after winning it are memories you remember."
Solskjaer is likely to rotate the Bluebirds squad for his first game in charge. Having observed the games against Sunderland and Arsenal, the Norwegian is expected to hand the likes of Joe Lewis, Mark Hudson and Declan John chances to impress. Craig Noone and Gary Medel could be rested.