Cambridge United manager Richard Money has likened his side’s chances of FA Cup fourth-round replay success at Manchester United to winning EuroMillions, having already claimed a Las Vegas jackpot and a winning Lottery ticket.
The Us, languishing in 14th spot in League Two and the lowest ranked side remaining in the FA Cup, play a money-spinning replay in front of 75,000 people at Old Trafford tonight after holding Louis van Gaal’s men to a goalless draw at the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
Money played down Cambridge’s hopes of an upset immediately after the home contest and knows the odds are firmly against his side earning a fifth round tie at either Preston or Sheffield United.
“If you go to Las Vegas and you play those fruit machines and you win the jackpot – that’s probably what the draw was, in terms of Cambridge versus Man United,” Money said. “To get the replay probably means we bought a Lottery ticket and won. Now we’ve bought a EuroMillions ticket. The percentage of chance diminishes because of it, but, because you’ve got a ticket, you do have a chance. That’s how I feel. To go there with no belief would be dangerous, but we’re well aware of the task in front of us. We’re going to go there and try to play as well as we can and be as positive as we can.”
Cambridge’s performance was lauded, but soon overtaken in the public consciousness when Bradford won at Premier League leaders Chelsea, having trailed 2-0, and Middlesbrough beat Manchester City.
“The Man United result was very quickly forgotten, especially because they became favourites to win the cup overnight,” Money added. “It is possible. Those results tell you that it’s possible. We’ll try to have our moments.”
Cambridge, who twice won at Wembley last season, have prepared for every eventuality, including practising penalties.
“We’re probably going to need to draw 4-4 to get there,” Money added.
The task awaiting Money’s men seemed all the more daunting when 3-0 down to Luton at half-time last Saturday, only for them to respond well to lose 3-2 to a side chasing promotion and bidding to make amends for a third round loss to the Us. The team will travel to Manchester on the day of the game, with 6,600 Cambridge supporters on 34 official buses also making the journey.
Cambridge’s finances are so tight that Money said his players would be charged for swapping shirts after the original match. Money added: “What we found was that Man United are particularly generous and they gave their shirts away without an exchange. I’m sure if Falcao, or Van Persie or Rooney want one of our shirts, I’m sure we can oblige.”
Cambridge – with former Hibs man Michael Nelson in the centre of their defence – will earn 45 per cent of gate receipts after costs from the replay. Chief executive Jez George does not know how much to expect, but he is not about to start throwing money around.
He said: “When you’ve worked here for eight and a half years with no money, run a youth scheme which hasn’t had any funding and the struggle every month has been ‘how are we going to pay the wages?’, we’re not going to be worrying about if it’s going to be X hundred thousand or which part of a million. We’re not going to spend it tomorrow, we’re not going to waste it. It’ll give us some financial security.”