THERE are few more dispiriting sights at the Stadium of Light than the ground barely a third-full against lower-league opposition.
Those early rounds of the cup competitions can be painful when there are fewer than 20,000 watching against generic Championship or League One opposition.
But the third round of this season’s FA Cup won’t be like that. Not at all.
Alan Shearer could not have hand-picked a better draw for Sunderland than facing Leeds at home.
The spirit of nostalgia from 1973 will give the tie plenty of interest, while the thousands travelling from Yorkshire will ensure a raucous atmosphere.
So why oh why did the FA have to go and ruin it all with their scheduling?
Sunderland’s cup clash will be their fourth game in the space of nine days.
After three Premier League outings before that January 3 tie, Gus Poyet will have little than choice than to include his fringe players against the club where he was assistant manager to Dennis Wise.
If the FA really want to restore the “magic” to what should still be one of the iconic dates on the footballing calendar, then they need to help themselves first.