Swansea City last night confirmed their place in the final of the Capital One cup to face League two side Bradford City at Wembley next month.
The majority of football fans across the country will no doubt have watched Bradford’s cup journey this season with great interest, and enjoyed watching a team from the 4th division of English football cause a string of upsets, knocking out Arsenal, Aston Villa and Wigan on their way to the final. However, it has posed the question as to the effect such cup runs can have on a team’s league form, with Bradford sitting in 10th place in League two, 29 games in to the season.
There is an argument to suggest that players can struggle to motivate themselves to perform in league matches, playing in front of crowds of just a few thousand, after experiencing the excitement of a cup tie against an elite group of players, in front of crowds of 20,000 or more supporters. Following Bradford’s 3-1 victory at home to Aston Villa in the first leg of the semi-final on the 8th of January, the team slumped to defeat at home to fellow mid table side Oxford City, Losing 2-1.
The players have proven they have the ability to perform against some of the best, but it would have to be said that if the team had performed to the same level in the league as they have done in the cup this season, they would find themselves sitting higher at the top of the table. The magic of a cup run for lower league teams is undisputable, and provides some of the best memories for football fans up and down the country, however, the main aim for Bradford this season would undoubtedly have been to gain promotion to League One, which is still very possible.
City face Wycombe at home on Saturday, with an away visit to Fleetwood Town’s 5000 capacity Highbury stadium in just over a week, proving just how special a cup run can be for players at this level. It has truly been a season to remember for Bradford so far, and we’re still only half way through, the magic of the cup is there for all to see.