‘It’s a disgrace’, so exclaimed Jose Mourinho upon seeing his Premier League-leading Chelsea side unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup at the hands of Bradford City.
The Bantams journeyed to the capital for a fourth-round clash and realised, to their delight, that the streets really are lined with gold.
Bradford’s perma-grinned chairman Mark Lawn has been a regular on television sets ever since. In fact, he may be getting more air time than Gary Lineker, and that is saying something!
He has every right to bask in the warm glow of success. It is, after all, not every day that a side with ambitions of finishing inside the third tier’s top six topples one intent on landing the most prestigious prize in English football – while looking to complement domestic glory with a continental triumph.
The same can be said for Middlesbrough, with Teesside toasting victory over the reigning English champions after Manchester City proved no match for Aitor Karanka’s men in front of a bemused Etihad Stadium support.
Let’s not forget Cambridge United either, with the gap between mid-table mediocrity in League Two and a top-four fight in the top-flight bridged as Manchester United were held to a humbling goalless draw at the Abbey Stadium.
The exploits of the non-Premier League sides mentioned above have rightly dominated the back pages, front pages and plenty of others in between, with FA Cup betting thrown wide open, but is there such a thing as a ‘shock’ in the modern era?
Mourinho may claim that he was taking the FA Cup seriously, that it truly was a top priority for a side caught up in talk of unprecedented quadruples.
Does he really care, though?
An early exit will actually end up working in Chelsea’s favour, as they now have a free weekend to look forward to before tackling Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 encounter in the Champions League.
City, meanwhile, have also rid themselves of a potential distraction as they endeavour to prevent their league crown from being stolen back to west London.
Bosses will always play the FA Cup ‘magic’ card, while players should, if they have anything about them, be prepared to give their all in pursuit of major silverware.
It is, however, difficult for those dreaming of continental success to dedicate the same amount of energy to a home date with Bradford as they will a meeting with the reigning champions of France.
That is human nature – you have to pick your fights.
That is not to take anything away from the exploits of the ‘giant killers’, with it important that their achievements are recognised and that they enjoy their moment in the spotlight.
This is, though, a minor blip for those on the receiving end of sensationalist headlines.
After all, is David’s victory over Goliath really that notable if said giant is happy to take a fall, roll around on the turf a few times, clutch his face, his knee, argue with the referee, dust himself down and accept the punishment coming his way?