Monday, 16 February 2015

Magic Of The Cup Being Ignored

One sub-plot to Bradford's tremendous 2-0 victory over Sunderland was the lack of care seemingly given by the TV networks. You would have thought that after a stunning 2-0 defeat-turned 4-2 victory over Chelsea, the destiny of English cup football's most prolific giant-killers would have warranted a bit more interest. Instead, Aston Villa v Leicester, Arsenal v Middlesbrough, and West Brom v West Ham were deemed more worthy of a large audience. Considering none of these provided, or were ever really like to provide, big upsets, why not Bradford v Sunderland?

Bradford's own run to the League Cup final in 2013 was further proof that great things can still be done. Phil Parkinson clearly does something right when approaching these games against supposedly superior opposition. The visit of a misfiring Sunderland outfit would have seen the Bantams licking their lips, and so it proved, as the Black Cats were swept aside by an enthusiastic display of a side who know they can beat the best this country has to offer.

Sometimes a plucky and limited underdog playing with heart can be better to watch than a fatigued superstar, which is what Arsenal talisman Alexis Sanchez has been of late. All too often lately, English football has resembled a vending machine. Pay millions of pounds for that one generally thought of as "world class" player, give the ball to him when at all possible, and then moan when they get injured, bemoaning the fact that you can no longer compete. All managers are guilty of this, even Jose Mourinho last season was constantly belittling his side, with the "little horse" remarks. Yet this season, with unquestionably a stronger squad on paper, his side were still dumped out by Bradford.

What will never die in football is the ability for any one team to beat another on any given day. That is not a quality that is exclusive to the FA cup, or any supposedly superior league. Count how many times the Premier League is hailed as being the one true "competitive" league in Europe. Top-notch marketing, ensuring the TV deals grow larger and larger. Well guess what, Germany has that too. The fact that Dortmund are only now just emerging from the relegation zone, having finished second last season, and champions not long before that, shows that football as a whole will always retain the ability to surprise.

Unfortunately, in today's age of the "star" player, more people are always going to tune in to see the big guns turn in listless displays, than a full-blooded tie featuring a club who won't do the tricks but will get the heart racing. And yes, before you ask, I will be cheering on Preston tonight.

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