LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea must not fall victim to another FA Cup giant-killing as they did last year because their chances of success in the Premier League are limited after a poor start to the season, manager Guus Hiddink said on Friday.
Chelsea, who have lifted the Cup four times in the last nine years, face League One (third tier) Scunthorpe United in the third round at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea suffered one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s 145-year history last year when League One Bradford City beat the Premier League leaders 4-2 in the fourth round at Stamford Bridge having trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes.
Chelsea are now 14th in the table and Hiddink, who guided the club to an FA Cup final win over Everton in 2009 in his initial spell as interim boss, said they cannot afford to slip up again.
“I didn’t see it but I know we must not stumble again,” he said when asked about the Bradford defeat.
“Besides if you see the impact of the FA Cup not just in England but worldwide it’s a huge tradition. I remember when I was a young man specifically watching FA Cup games on a Saturday afternoon.
“When I started we said we have to have some aims — with a big club you have to set some targets.
“Fourth place in the Premier League is now difficult, but then there are two targets left of which one is the FA Cup. It is a big target for this group of players together.”
Chelsea beat Scunthorpe 3-1 in the FA Cup third round 11 years ago but the Dutchman is taking nothing for granted.
“We take all our opponents very seriously. My team and myself have watched part of their games,” he said.
“It’s their game here and they are dreaming of getting a good result.”
Hiddink is likely to field a strong team, but will be without injured Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard and France striker Loic Remy.
He also confirmed he intends to leave the club at the end of the season.
“I have just two dates in my mind, May 25 and May 28. Those dates are the FA Cup and Champions League finals. I go home on May 29, at the end of this, I will stop.”
(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Ed Osmond)