BIRMINGHAM – The FA Cup has lost its shine, according to Aston Villa manager Dean Smith.
On a day when teams made an average of almost six player changes to their line-ups for the third round and attendances were down by 30 per cent, Smith pointed a finger at football authorities for making alterations which have damaged the competition.
There were 223 changes to the 40 teams playing in Saturday’s matches, with eight clubs making nine or more. Four teams made 10 or more changes.
Smith, who made nine changes, did not even take some of his best players to Craven Cottage, where they were beaten 2-1 by Fulham.
They have a Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg against Leicester on Wednesday but are also fourth-bottom of the Premier League, having seen three players suffer serious injuries recently. He said: ‘I think it has lost its sparkle. It does not help when the final kicks off at 5.30pm and one final was on the same day as a programme of Premier League fixtures (in 2011).