The Lead

And tomorrow night, and maybe the night after that.

Funny thing the Capital Carling One Coca-Cola Worthington Littlewoods Cup—despite the constant media asides that it’s a meaningless drag on the clubs engaged in fighting for 7th in the ever-important money-making Premier League, it’s still the best damn knockout competition in Blighty. Perhaps Europe (nah, c’est la Coupe de France, merci beacoup).

And it’s not just because last night fourth tier Bradford City Football Club withstood a victory against Premier League For Now Aston Villa to make it through to the final in the ungainly but still symbolically important Wembley. Because despite Villa’s utter, dreadful ineptitude at times, it was as close as you could get to the kind of football match you’d want to watch when you’re in the mood to watch a football match.

This was no Chelsea parking the bus at the Camp Nou. While Villa managed 23 shots and at times looked to run away with the game in the first half, Bradford fought back to earn 11, with 2 on target, including James Hanson’s vital tying goal in the 55th minute. Their performance was a homage to the Football League, and not just the one incidentally located in England. It’s a an old hoary cliche—football is a game decided in 90 minutes on a pitch—but it sure feels novel when it happens, and a minor miracle that it still happens, even if in fifty-year gaps.

But that the circumstances exist in which a League Two side can meet a Premier League side and defeat them in a knockout competition is a testament to the league system first proposed by an Aston Villa chairman, of all people. It’s why Bradford’s mayor can rejoice that the prospect of a Wembley final might give an economically ravaged city a needed morale boost, why a club all-but-ignored for the last decade can enjoy some time in the national sports news limelight, and why a grumpy Aston Villa supporter can wake up and feel something approaching respect for Bradford City and its sudden group of hangers-on in the millions. It’s why people who love football love it a lot.

If that’s the only reason to keep the lowly little Milk Cup alive for ever and ever, so be it.

Canada

Three things we learned about Toronto FC this week.

England

Parkinson says Bradford reaching Capital One Cup final historic.

Michu extends Swansea contract till 2016.

Lambert’s job safe even if Aston Villa relegated.

Benitez says Alex Ferguson has always placed undue pressure on referees.

Italy

Allegri says he’d welcome a player of Drogba’s caliber to Milan.

La Liga

Lugano of PSG joins Malaga on loan.

Reports say Madrid to offer bonus if players win Champions League.

Germany

Adam Szalai downplays rumours linking him with Arsenal.

Hannover shortchanged after Brazilian signing Franca is 9 cm shorter than expected.

Bit and Bobs

Caricatures of footballers.

Brazil biggest exporter of footballers to Europe.

Pique and Shakira welcome baby Milan Pique Mebarak.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.

Comments (2)

  1. Congratulations to the Bradford players, more than deserved victory!
    Aston Villa is doing a terrible season!

  2. agreed well done bradford they play with some real heart a tad bit lucky to reach it this far with penalty wins over wigan and arsenal but take nothing away from them for these little clubs cup competitons like this is all they have for villa and wigan surviving the drop is much more important than a final in thecarling cup or capital cup or whatever the hell its called this year and a top four finish is more important to the gunners than this and i bet you bradford would take a promotion over final they need to make this tournament more rewarding and maybe bigger clubs would take it more seriously and fans would actually care about who wins it hope fa cup doesnt start going that way too it used to be a big deal to win the fa cup not so much anymore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *