PETER Reid reckons that the FA Cup quarter-final draw which pits two of his former clubs, Sunderland and Everton against each other, could produce a cup classic.
Reid, along with former Tranmere Rovers cup hero Wayne Allison, was at Wembley Stadium yesterday afternoon to enjoy the honour of pulling the balls out for the sixth round draw.
And the last moments of the draw saw the former Sunderland manager pull out Everton and Allison bring the number seven ball of Sunderland out last of all, for an all-Premier League tie at Goodison Park next month.
“I couldn’t believe it,” smiled Reid (pictured). “It put me in a no-win situation because I don’t want to see either go out.
“I had three of my former clubs in the draw, because Bolton were in there too, and I was hoping that none of them would face each other.
“We did the rehearsal beforehand, so I knew which clubs had which balls and, as the draw was getting on, I could see it was more and more likely that those two would be drawn against each other.
“It’s a shame in a way because I think neither club will be overjoyed at drawing each other – they both know how dangerous each other are.
“Sunderland are the form side of the division at the moment, but Everton aren’t that far behind and they’ve got home advantage.
“I just have a feeling it could be a classic cup-tie – given the quality of the two managers and what they get out of their teams.
“It’s definitely the tie of the round, in my opinion.
“You’re going to have two well-matched sides with similarly inspirational managers really going for it, knowing they’re just a couple of games away from a major final.”
Reid still retains massive affection for Sunderland, the club he will always be most associated with as a manager, and has been delighted with their resurgence under Martin O’Neill.
He told the Echo: “I watched the whole of the Sunderland-Arsenal game and no-one can tell me that Sunderland did not totally deserve to go through.
“Arsenal might have had a bit more possession, but they never really hurt Sunderland and no-one on their side showed the same sort of intensity and desire as Sunderland’s players did.
“It was a fantastic team effort and you could have chosen any one of half-a-dozen players for your man of the match.
“But the player who really caught my eye was young James McClean, who was in their faces from first minute to last.
“He didn’t let them rest on the ball for a second when it was in his area of the pitch, he was positive going forward every time he got it, but, just as importantly, he was constantly getting back to help his full-back out.”
Everton have the psychological advantage of an 14-match unbeaten record against Sunderland going back to 2001, with the Black Cats’ last victory at Goodison Park coming in 1996.
Everton defender Shane Duffy tweeted: “Good draw at home against Sunderland in the cup! Tough game but have a good feeling about this year!”