As Manchester City prepare to continue their FA Cup run against Newport County, plenty of people who call themselves football purists will be hoping for an upset.
Plenty of people enjoyed Wigan Athletic’s shock victory over City in the 2017-18 edition of the competition, and that’s not just because walking meme Will Grigg scored the winner.
Similarly, plenty cheered on Newport as they came within 10 minutes of eliminating Tottenham last season, and when they stunned Leicester City at Rodney Parade this time around.
However, we’re here to defend that most maligned of cup results: the underdog going up against one of the big boys and getting absolutely and uncompromisingly wiped out.
Teams Man City have smashed in 2019…
— Philippic Beatbox (@philippic6) February 11, 2019
If there’s any team to produce the goods in such a fixture, it’s surely City. The Premier League champions have scored 42 goals in 11 games since the end of the year, putting five past Burnley, six past Chelsea, seven past Rotherham and nine past Burton Albion in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
Yes, there are occasions where a demolition can become boring towards the end, but the 9-0 win against Burton wasn’t one of them: the closing stages, with the League One side battling tooth and nail to ensure they didn’t concede a 10th, were some of the most enthralling football played in England in the last 12 months.
Whenever we have such a high-scoring game, there will inevitably be a few voices out there berating the winning team for refusing to ease off and take pity on their opponents. Without putting too fine a point on it, there people are wrong.
Like a father playing basketball in the back garden with his son, you never know when you’ll reach the point at which you’re no longer the overwhelming favourite. It could come years down the line; it could arrive later that same afternoon. The only way to ensure you kill off any chance of a comeback is by going for the face at the first opportunity and never once stopping to let your opponent catch their breath.
It is still hard to tell what’s better, though: Goliath swatting David aside at the first opportunity, or the smaller man earning a replay and thus being made to think he has a chance of leaving with at least his pride intact, only for things to be worse than if he had walked away with a bland two-goal defeat.
Last February, Notts County held Swansea City to a 1-1 draw, earning themselves a replay against the then-Premier League club at the Liberty Stadium, with Jon Stead’s second-half equaliser ensuring the game at Meadow Lane ended all square.
If only they had known what would follow. Carlos Carvalhal’s Swans peppered Adam Collin’s goal, producing 14 shots on target and scoring eight goals, as many as they would score in their next 11 Premier League games combined.
There’s no better feeling in football than leaving the opposition regretting getting out of bed in the morning. Well there is one – making them think they’ve made a great decision to get out of bed, only for them to quickly realise they were sorely mistaken.
That’s what happened to non-league Droylesden when they took on Leyton Orient in the second round in 2010. After a 1-1 draw in Greater Manchester, the sixth-tier side took a surprise two-goal lead at Brisbane Road and were still two to the good with 13 minutes remaining.
Hope is a terrible thing in football, though, and the only honourable thing for a club worth its salt is to ensure it is wiped out as quickly as possible, bringing us back to the beautiful cycle of disappointment occasionally broken up by bouts of outright pain.
Leyton Orient striker Jonathan Tehoué fired home an 89th minute equaliser, forcing extra-time, and the London club went on to score six more goals in the 30 added minutes.
It was their way of saying “How dare you think there might be a happy ending to this?”, and if Manchester City don’t treat Newport to the same on Saturday they’ll have failed.