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FA Cup: Yeovil Town boss Darren Way plotting a shock win over Manchester United


FA Cup fourth round: Yeovil Town v Manchester UnitedVenue: Huish Park Date: Friday, 26 January Kick-off: 19:55 GMTCoverage: Watch live on BBC One & the BBC Sport app from 19:30 GMT, live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sport and follow text updates on the BBC Sport website.”I feel very fortunate to be alive today,” says Yeovil Town boss Darren Way. “I’ve had 28 operations on my injuries and I’m due to have more. I’ve got another one coming up after the Manchester United game.” On 17 December 2008, Way, a midfielder in his third spell with the Glovers, was on his way to collect items for his new home when the van he was a passenger in was involved in a serious collision with another vehicle on the A3088 just outside Yeovil.He was airlifted to hospital with injuries including a broken left femur, broken left kneecap, broken and dislocated right elbow and broken and dislocated left hip.

Plymouth-born Way spent most of 2009 in a wheelchair and had to learn to walk again, while coming to terms with the devastating end of his playing career at the age of 29.


Nine years and one month on, the scars remain and the visits to hospital continue.Yet Way has since forged a new career for himself in management and on Friday he has Manchester United in his sights, three years after being beaten by the Red Devils in the third round.The 38-year-old hopes to mastermind one of the great FA Cup shocks by steering League Two Yeovil – the lowest-ranked side left in the competition – to a famous fourth round win over the 12-time winners at Huish Park, a tie you can watch live on BBC One. “You never know what life will bring you,” Way tells BBC Sport.

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FA Cup fourth-round draw’I spoke to Sir Alex about Man Utd’ – Way’Crash prepared me for management’Way’s playing career started at Norwich City and included a stint at Swansea City under Kenny Jackett and Roberto Martinez.Yet he has spent the most of his working life in the Somerset town of Yeovil – 17 years in total as a player, coach, number two and, for the past two years, manager. “The only league I haven’t done with Yeovil is the Premier League,” added Way, who was part of the team that won promotion to the Football League in 2003 and first-team coach when they played in the Championship in 2013-14.However, the Glovers have gone from the second-tier to League Two survival in the space of four years.Way was appointed manager, following Paul Sturrock’s departure in December 2015, with Yeovil bottom of League Two, two points from safety, before leading them away from the relegation zone.They currently sit 21st in the fourth-tier, two points above the relegation zone and 86 places below Jose Mourinho’s United on the league ladder.Gates have dipped and finances are tight, but Way believes the mental and physical hurdles he overcame in the aftermath of his accident have helped shape him as manager.From Top 40 singles chart to the ChampionshipYeovil were a Championship team as recently as 2013-14 when they finished bottom of the table after eight wins from 46 games.Defender Nathan Smith is the only Yeovil player who played in the 2-0 defeat by Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup in 2015 who is likely to start on Friday. The Glovers entered the UK top 40 singles chart with the the song, Yeovil True, in February 2004 to mark their FA Cup third round tie with Liverpool, which they lost 2-0.Yeovil did not make it past the first round last season after losing 4-2 on penalties in a replay at non-league Solihull Moors.”The resilience that I built after the accident certainly prepared me for football management,” he said.”I was already quite determined and I had a strong willpower before it happened. That increased 10-fold with what I went through.”I battled against the odds just to walk again. “To be confined to a wheelchair and not being able to walk is not nice. To only having access to one arm is not nice.”


Yeovil is a world away from the glitz and glamour of United, who have topped the table of the world’s 20 richest football clubs for the second year in a row.Way’s squad is made up of young, hungry free transfers, swelled by youngsters on loan from Liverpool, Southampton and Bournemouth, who have yet to break into their respective teams.Way said: “Being at Yeovil with no head of recruitment, no chief scout, no CEO, no director of football… it’s just me and the chairman doing a lot of the work to keep the club in the Football League.”I go to work at 6:15 in the morning and I really enjoy it. “We’re basically an under-23 team in League Two. We’re a development club. We’ve helped develop the likes of Shane Duffy, Steven Caulker, Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend… they’ve all been through our system over the last few years.”The Yeovil defender who spent his close season meditatingDrone stops Yeovil game’A carpet of a pitch? Sanchez can forget that’Alexis Sanchez could make his United debut at Huish Park after joining from Arsenal, in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.The Chile forward, 29, has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal worth £14m a year after tax – a figure Yeovil’s players can only dream about.A 9,000-plus crowd – around one-fifth of the town’s 45,000 population and around one-eighth the capacity of Old Trafford – is expected to fill Huish Park.”It’s going to be a little bit different for him,” added Way when asked what Sanchez can expect should he play.”The crowd is going to be on top of the players and he won’t be playing on a carpet, that’s for sure.”


‘No more shirt swapping arguments’This is the third time Yeovil have hosted a Premier League club in the FA Cup since winning promotion to the Football League 15 years ago.Way played when Liverpool beat the Glovers 2-0 in the third round in 2004 and was coach when Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United won by the same score at the same stage in 2015.He said lessons had been learned from both ties – particularly when it came to swapping shirts with the opposition at the end.”In both games there were one or two arguments with players about it,” Way added.”So I’ll just be making sure our focus is on one thing. Our minimum aim is to take United back to Old Trafford for a replay.”


Yeovil have made it to the fourth round after wins over League One Bradford City and Southend United, as well as League Two rivals Port Vale.”Sometimes people don’t dream big enough,” said Way. “We have worked extremely hard against all odds to get this opportunity. What I don’t want my players to do is waste it.”If we get a result this will be the biggest story ever in Yeovil’s history.”When Yeovil hit the UK singles chartMourinho, helicopters and FergieWay says it will be a “dream come true” to pit his wits against Jose Mourinho.The Yeovil boss and lifelong Chelsea fan has met former Blues manager Mourinho before when he and his son, Mason, were invited into the home dressing room at Stamford Bridge.Way has also become friends with former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who sent a team to play in his testimonial match at Huish Park in 2010.Ferguson was also in the crowd when United last visited Huish Park in 2015 after arriving by helicopter.”Sir Alex caught me at the lowest moment of my career and I owe him a lot,” added Way, who prepared for United’s visit by taking his Yeovil team to watch Bristol City against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday.The Yeovil team stayed in a hotel in Bristol and used Championship club City’s training facilities.Way added: “Our focus is to make sure we can put on a performance and see if we can create a cup upset.”This opportunity may never come again in the players’ careers.”From stacking supermarket shelves to facing PogbaFour years ago winger Jordan Green was working night shifts at a London supermarket, stacking shelves while playing part-time for Banbury United in the seventh-tier Southern League Premier Division. Now the 22-year-old is preparing to face the likes of Paul Pogba and Juan Mata – something that seemed a distant dream six years ago after being released by Fulham at the age of 16 for being too short.Green stood barely five feet tall when let go but has played a key role in Yeovil’s best FA Cup run for four years after a roller-coaster career which has seen him play for nothing for Southern Counties East League side Holmesdale to landing a contract at Premier League Bournemouth.


“I wasn’t getting paid at Holmesdale but playing for them made me see the fun in football again,” said Green.”I went on to Banbury and my career took off. I was going from night shifts at Waitrose to playing a few hours later. It was a struggle but I ended up with a trial at Bournemouth and a contract with their under-21 side.”Green played in the same Cherries team as defender Jack Simpson, who has gone on to play in the Premier League, and travelled with the first team to Chelsea when Glenn Murray scored the winner at Stamford Bridge in December 2015. He left Bournemouth without playing a senior match but hopes to propel Yeovil to a shock win over United.Since joining the Glovers in August, Green has scored two FA Cup goals – including an 89th-minute equaliser at Port Vale in the second round as a substitute.
Source: BBC Somerset