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By ESPN Staff

Mowbray: Magic of the cup is disappearing

West Brom boss Tony Mowbray fears the big clubs will start 'diluting' the importance of the FA Cup in the same way as the Carling Cup has slipped down their list of priorities.

And Mowbray, whose side face Middlesbrough in a fifth-round replay tonight, warned that even the Premiership could become secondary to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

He believes the big guns will make the Champions League their priority at the expense of everything else as the gap grows between the country's top four and the other clubs.

Mowbray admits the Baggies will also have one eye on Saturday's home Coca-Cola Championship game with Sunderland when selecting his side to face Boro.

But this is due in part to him feeling it is unrealistic for clubs like Albion to contemplate winning the FA Cup, given the dominance of the competition in recent years by the top clubs.

He said: 'It saddens you really to be living in the age when the FA Cup for the rest outside the top few clubs is about how much money you are going to make out of the next round.

'It's got to the point where the smaller clubs want to play away at the big stadium to get the cash in.

'The FA Cup was all about pitting the minnows against the giants really and having some giant-killing along the way. That has become less and less.

'Ultimately, the winners for the past few years have come from the top three or four clubs with the best players and the most money. The whole of football is going that way.

'You've got to be careful that the Premiership doesn't become secondary to your Chelseas, Manchester Uniteds and Arsenals and that all they are picking is teams to win the Champions League.

'You have got to be very careful that doesn't happen. We have seen the diluting of the League Cup for a number of years throughout the rounds.

'The FA Cup gives you a European spot but that will be diluted with the top four because they will be expected to finish one, two, three, four every season in the Premiership and achieve Champions League qualification.

'A UEFA Cup spot would seem very small and diluted in the minds of the giant clubs.'

Mowbray may make changes against his former club, with the likes of Zoltan Gera, Nathan Ellington and Darren Carter brought into the starting XI.

The Albion chief said: 'Those players, if they do get a game, don't weaken our team at all. It is about utilising our squad.

'But we are very mindful of Saturday and the game with Sunderland. We might wring the last drops of energy from the others who have been playing but let's wait and see what we do.

'We are mindful of two big games this week and we would like to win them both if we could.

'But if I had a choice between reaching the quarter-finals and three points on Saturday, it is pretty obvious the three points would be more welcome.'