I don’t think a manager outside the top six can ever honestly target a cup run. They just come along, as ours to the FA Cup final did in 2011.
You also need some good fortune – both on the pitch, and in getting the right draws at the right time.
In the summer of 2010, Asmir Begovic and Jonathan Walters were among those we recruited. Asmir’s the best goalkeeper I’ve ever managed – he, Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross gave our team a fantastic base.
He’d been brought in to replace Thomas Sorensen, who had performed excellently during the previous two seasons. Both trained and competed in a way I admire, and although Asmir was unquestionably my first choice, I’d decided that Thomas would play in the cups.
I’d watched Walters when he was at Chester, and I wasn’t surprised when he stepped up to join Ipswich. He was everything a manager could wish for in a signing – he settled into the group very easily, understood our hard-working culture, and was unselfish.
That January we were drawn at home to Dave Jones’ Cardiff City, who were challenging for the Championship title, in the third round of the FA Cup. The club and our supporters were ablaze at Premier League football, and that game was played out in front of a smaller crowd. A draw was a fair result, but we played much better and won the replay when Walters (below) scored twice in extra time.