It’s time to practise saying stuff like “massive upset”, “giant slaying”, and “shock result” as the FA Cup is about to introduce the teams that people have actually heard of. There has already been a round of fixtures with sides like Braintree Town and Solihull Moors magically prevailing over their opposition. Come January, football fans will begin to take a vague interest in England’s seminal knockout tournament- mainly people who support teams that don’t normally have a hope in hell of winning anything.
Yes, Wigan and Portsmouth will be licking their lips at the opportunity to storm towards another addition to their trophy cabinets. And players from Braintree and Solihull are already praying that they draw a club that plays in a proper stadium should they progress past the next stage (second round opponents Millwall and Luton Town don’t really count).
Manchester City are 13/2 in the FA Cup betting to win the tournament, because they are supposed to be winning everything now they have a manager with a proven track record of winning everything. Pep Guardiola has, in fact, already failed to win the League Cup, losing to Jose Mourinho’s expensive underachievers. Why bookies think the Catalan will show more bottle in the FA Cup is anyone’s guess.
The magic of the FA Cup is that anyone can win. And as many people enjoyed saying last season when Leicester City won the Premier League: “Anyone can beat anyone in this game.” Instead of backing sides like City and Chelsea, why not instead stake large sums of dosh on the likes of Stourbridge and Curzon Ashton at 4500/1? You will kick yourself when they pull off their fairy-tale “upsets” and go on to sweep aside the so-called giants.
The underdog mentality has proven to be more valuable than multimillion pound, blockbuster signings on numerous occasions. Why have Paul Pogba in your squad when you could have a part time painter and decorator who just “wants it more.”
The biggest giant slaying or whatever you want to call it was probably back in 1991-92 when Wrexham knocked out Arsenal in the third round. The Gunners were the reigning First Division champions at the time and the other team had finished the previous season at the foot of the football league.
The FA Cup also gives fans the chance to rejoice about being drawn against a team they hate that they haven’t played against for ages. This was the case for Leeds United in the 2009-10 season when they got to play their bitter enemy Manchester United. As testament to the “passion” between the two clubs all the pubs in the city centre were forced to close to avoid any unsavoury meetings between fans. Leeds won the match 1-0 (see video above) and still go on about it to this day.
What magic will occur in this season’s tournament as all the clubs in England battle for supremacy? My money’s on Braintree doing Millwall and putting together a decent run.