UNAI EMERY held a roll call of his Aston Villa players and told them: ‘Show me your medals!’
And he was stunned to discover NONE of his current squad have won an FA Cup tie for the Villans.
Scotland star John McGinn sheepishly confessed he had been knocked out at the third-round stage every season since arriving in August 2018.
In fact you have to go back seven seasons to January 2016 to find Villa’s last win in the competition when they beat fourth-tier Wycombe 2-0 — in a replay!
Last season when even cup specialist boss Emery could not prevent them crashing out 2-1 to League Two Stevenage, who floored them with two goals in the final two minutes!
Emery admits that is unacceptable for a club who have won the trophy seven times — but not since 1957.
He said: “I was watching something about how many times Villa won the FA Cup and it hasn’t happened for a long time.
“The last time we played in the final was against Arsenal in 2015, nearly ten years ago.
“We have to be more demanding because winning this trophy brings a lot of prestige for the players, the club, every supporter and coach.
“I wanted to paint a mental picture for the players about winning the FA Cup and that if we were successful we would also then qualify for the Europa League.”
So four-time Europa League winner Emery — who also won seven domestic trophies with Paris Saint-Germain — got his squad together and went round each one, in what amounted to a game of: ‘What have you won?’
He said: “I wanted to know how many had been successful in cup competitions before — maybe not the FA Cup — and maybe in other countries.
“For example, I was successful in winning cups in France with PSG and Moussa Diaby was also successful and won a trophy in France, too.
“It is very important to try to share those experiences with the players and make them aware of the prestige that winning the FA Cup brings.”
It is fair to say Villa will need to raise their cup game considerably to win the famous competition this term.
Emery joked: “I asked John McGinn about his record because he was here for most of the failures!
“He said he’s never won an FA Cup tie here before but he wants to break that record! And it has helped us understand our motivation before we left for Middlesbrough.
“We have to respect them because they are a good team who are going to play in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup against Chelsea.
“But we’re in one of the top spots in the Premier League and for them it will be a special match.”
One stat Emery will be interested in is that the last time Villa played Boro in the FA Cup was the last season they won it — 67 years ago.