Once considered a ‘mickey mouse cup’ that was only good for giving the kids a run out, the Capital One Cup has developed into an increasingly important competition on the agenda of most of the big sides.
The turn of the century saw the likes of Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Leicester lift the trophy as mid-table Premier League sides exploited the complacency of the Premier League’s elite.
Since Middlesbrough won the trophy in 2004 though, the last 10 competitions have seen a change in mentality from the top clubs. Manchester United have lifted the cup three times, Chelsea twice, and Manchester City and Liverpool once.
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Manchester United have already crashed out of the competition, losing 4-0 to MK Dons in a game that will go down in Cup history.
The subsequent 3rd round draw saw five all Premier League ties which can potentially open the door for someone to break the stranglehold of the Premier League big guns in the competition.
Despite the majority of trophies being won by the favourites, the magic of the cup is still alive and kicking in some part. Birmingham clearly didn’t read the script before they beat Arsenal in a dramatic final in 2011, which saw Obafemi Martins score a late winner.
More recently though, it was Bradford City who captured the imagination in a fairy tale cup run that took them all the way to the final. The League Two side didn’t get there via a lucky draw either, they beat the best and earned their place at Wembley.
The Bantams knocked out three Premier League sides on their road to Wembley, with Wigan, Arsenal and then Aston Villa all crashing out to Phil Parkinson’s men.
The growing importance of the cup in the minds of the big teams coupled with the ability for a Roy of the Rovers type story like Bradford’s combines perfectly to create a classic cup competition.
And that is why the Capital One Cup will be back and better than ever when the Quarter Final matches are played, with all sides believing that this year is their year.