Andy Gray column: Why I want to see a Bradford v Swansea final
A Bradford v Swansea League Cup final would be a boost for how the competition is viewed as a whole by the neutral
Seeing Bradford and Swansea contest the Capital One Cup final would be superb for both clubs but also for how the competition is viewed as a whole by the neutral.
Everyone loves an underdog – our love of the early rounds of the FA Cup is proof of that – and two teams going at it for the chance of a major trophy would be a tremendous spectacle and, I think, a brilliant advert for the League Cup, which has taken a bit of stick in recent years.
And nobody could argue that neither side deserves to be there after the first legs.
It was a wonderful performance from Bradford and thoroughly deserved as well. Phil Parkinson maybe didn’t expect to win the game beforehand but he said his side could give Villa a tough test and he was absolutely right.
That result was probably beyond his wildest dreams – I thought they could have perhaps nicked a 1-0 win but to put three past a Premier League side, even one who are struggling, is a remarkable achievement.
It was a superb effort from everyone across the park and it would be wonderful to see a fourth-tier side make it to the final.
The goalkeeper were superb, as were everyone in the outfield – they all stepped up when they needed to and now they find themselves 90 minutes away from the biggest game of their lives.
Without taking anything away from Bradford, Aston Villa went about a clash against a lower league side completely wrong. They should have looked at the example set by Everton after their FA Cup tie with Cheltenham the night before – they were brilliant, they showed exactly how you need to approach a clash against lower-league opposition.
It’s a different game when you play a match with such a big gulf and I don’t think Villa quite looked as ready for it as they should have done.
The pressure on Paul Lambert is understandable but Villa can’t just sack a manager and go back to square one, even if they lose the second leg. It’s not the way to build a successful football club.
Obviously if the club gets relegated then it will be a different story but right now they are still in the League Cup and they are keeping their heads above water in the league.
In the other tie, Swansea have a tremendous opportunity and it’s a credit to Michael Laudrup that they are in the position they are in. What he’s done with limited resources is quite remarkable and he’s continued the good work started by Brendan Rodgers last season.
He deserves all the praise he can get and if they made it to the final it would be an amazing achievement and would certainly underline the fact he has a great future ahead of him as a manger.
As for Rafael Benitez and Chelsea, failing to win a trophy this season would be a bit of a disaster for them considering the talent they have at their disposal.
You can never write off a side like Chelsea, however, when you look at their squad. Clearly, they will be up against it but they have the quality to reach the final.
They’ve made it hard for themselves and if they weren’t in the final it would make a second successive FA Cup title imperative, they can’t contemplate finishing the season empty-handed but at the moment it seems like a very real prospect.