Magic of the cup: Giant-killings prove every underdog has its day
Bradford City, Oldham Athletic and Luton Town show that cup competitions retain their sparkle
It has been claimed by the speech and actions of many in football that England's two major domestic cup competitions, the FA and League Cup, have lacked innovation and that for the bigger clubs, they have become somewhat of an inconvenience rather than a road to glory.
Sadly, many argue the FA Cup is starting its descent into disrepute. While those words may be slightly harsh in the present day, the FA Cup is certainly not as prestigious as it once was for some clubs.
That doesn't stop a whole host of fairy tales passing through the competition each year, however. We only have to look at this year’s competition to find evidence.
Luton arguably caused the biggest upset of the fourth round proper. The Hatters defeated Norwich City in their own back yard, scoring one and containing The Canaries to keep a clean sheet.
Second on the list was Oldham Athletic's brilliant win at Boundary Park over seven time winners, Liverpool. Oldham sent three past the Premier League giants over the 90 minutes, while just doing enough to see out the victory. The Latics earned a replay with Liverpool's Merseyside rivals Everton after a last-gasp equaliser ensured their name would be in the hat for the quarter-final draw.
Lastly, Leeds United dumped Tottenham out of the competition for another year. The home side won 2-1 at Elland Road after managing to contain man of the moment Gareth Bale and his teammates. The Championship side showed the extra bit of quality on the day to set up a 5th round tie at the home of the Premier League champions, Manchester City, although Neil Warnock's side succumbed to a 4-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The League Cup, however, has consistently been discredited, with Premier League teams now using the competition as a chance to field up and coming talent.
The astonishing run of League 2 Bradford, however, has been a revelation and rather refreshing for the competition. While in most years the neutral fan would see the League Cup final at Wembley as just another game, many will be willing heavy underdogs Bradford on to rekindle the magic of the League Cup this year, as they take on Premier League outfit Swansea in next weekend's showpiece finale.
While some believe that the spark just isn't quite there anymore, there is stacks of evidence to suggest otherwise.
Magic lost? Definitely not.
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