Bradford, Aston Villa, Man United: Busting The Cupset Myth

Chris Gould
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On reading the BBC's fawning coverage of Bradford City, you'd think the so-called "Cupset" the Bantams pulled off on Tuesday night was the most incredible football event ever to happen - ever! 


Algeria beating West Germany in 1982 - not a patch on it! 


The "mighty" Liechtenstein holding Republic of Ireland to a 0-0 - but a trifle! 


Sutton United knocking out Coventry, cup holders of two years before - dismissed faster than you can say "Sean O'Driscoll" or "Henning Berg." 


It is a sad sign of our journalistic times that so much sensationalism is placed on the banal in a filthy sea of largely pointless football content, that the media scrum is completely unable to determine what is significant anymore. Is it therefore even surprising that anything slightly out of the ordinary, as witnessed at Valley Parade, is treated like the second coming of the Messiah?

Isn't it time someone freed perspective from the stranglehold inflicted by 24/7 news? 

The BBC's "omniscient" chief football went so far as to suggest the gap between football's rich and poor has become so great that genuine cup upsets have virtually no chance of happening. It's astonishing how a sizable number of intelligent journalists conclude that the Premier League teams are indisputably the best simply because that's the only football they watch. 

Let's get a few things straight here. Cup upsets, at least in the BBC sense of the word, are MORE likely to happen now than ever. The catastrophic comedown from football's spending boom has shaken the traditional football order beyond recognition, causing a record number of big names to fall, many into non-league. The number of former league sides in the conference is staggering, injecting unprecedented levels of quality into the non-league game. Clubs like Luton (ex top-flight) and Wrexham are league clubs in all but name. It is no surprise at all if they beat someone from League One or League Two, and perfectly plausible that they would topple a Championship side on its off-day (as Luton duly did). 

As for Bradford, it was only a decade ago that they were paying Benito Carbone 35000 pounds a week and holding down a top-flight place themselves.  That a club with that kind of stadium capacity, and that kind of fanbase, would one day - despite the savageries of administration - find enough wherewithal to build a team capable of knocking over a couple of Premier League reserve outfits is nothing to be astonished about! 

And if anybody still claims that the very best possess simply too much money and quality to be beaten by a minnow, shouldn't there be a YouTube video of Alex Ferguson somewhere in which the Great Scot talks about his team being lucky to have held then-Conference outfit Exeter to a draw? 2005. Old Trafford. FA Cup Third Round. United didn't field their strongest team, but they possessed more than enough talent. Yet Exeter were within inches of winning it. 

The foreign influx has ensured that the erstwhile trickle down of domestic talent to the lower divisions has become an avalanche. Cupsets will continue to happen. A confident, well-resourced former Premier League outfit turning over a confidence-sapped Premier League whipping boy recently hit for 15 goals in three games, is not among the more surprising of them.