Neil Warnock: Cardiff City boss 'struggled to get out of bed' for cup tie

Cardiff City
A crowd of 5.199 watched Cardiff's FA Cup third-round game with Fulham - the third successive season the Bluebirds have hosted a tie with a dismal attendance
FA Cup fourth-round draw
Date: Monday, 9 January Time: 19:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Radio 5 live & BBC Sport website

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock says he "struggled to get out of bed" for their FA Cup third-round defeat by Fulham.

Only 5,199 watched Cardiff lose 2-1 at home in a televised third-round tie which kicked off at 11:30 GMT.

Warnock made five changes to his team and lamented the sparse crowd as a sign of the FA Cup's declining status.

"I don't think it's just the 11:30 kick-off, it's the FA Cup in general," he said.

"When you look back to last week's game against Villa - 20,000 and the atmosphere and the way we played - it's almost a backward step.

"I struggled to get out of bed and I must admit I wasn't really excited at the prospect of playing the side I'd got to play in the FA Cup. I knew the crowd would be low and I just hoped the fans would be all right with me, and they have been."

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Highlights: Cardiff 1-2 Fulham

The Bluebirds boss admitted Cardiff's Championship fixtures took priority but says the competition struggles to attract much incentive from some Premier League teams.

Top-flight side Bournemouth made 11 changes for their 3-0 defeat at Millwall, while Liverpool made 10 changes against Plymouth and Tottenham made nine for their match against Aston Villa.

"It's just how it is at the minute. People have other priorities, which is sad," he said.

"That [the crowd] is a thousand more than I expected when I saw the kick-off.

"Until they make it a Champions League place if they win the FA Cup, you're going to get that with all the bottom half of the Premier League teams."

Warnock says such decisions are an example of the FA Cup's standing among clubs who fear relegation struggles that could harm finances in the long term.

"The money that's around is quite immoral at times, and the FA Cup unfortunately takes a back seat," said Warnock.

Cardiff City
Despite taking the lead through Anthony Pilkington, Cardiff were pegged back by the Cottagers and lost 2-1

Cardiff are 19th in the Championship table and not yet safe from relegation, prompting Warnock to rest several first-team players against Fulham.

Having led Sheffield United to the FA Cup semi-finals in 2003, the 68-year-old has experienced relative success in the competition.

With an important Championship fixture away at rivals Bristol City on Saturday. 15 January to prepare for, Warnock felt he had to make sacrifices against Fulham.

"It went pretty as much as I expected it to be really, if that's being a little bit negative," he added.

"I think it's a sad aspect when you play a weakened team like I have.

"The FA Cup's a great competition, but there are other priorities. Our club can't afford to go down. Bristol City on the horizon is a vitally important game.

"Maybe a couple of players I rested could have played, but I didn't think it was worth the gamble."

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