Swans versus Bantams . . . but it's not a final for the birds


Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013

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It's history in the making.

Swansea and Bradford will clash in a League Cup final so unfashionable that it really is a don't-miss affair.

The build-up starts on ESPN from 4.30am on Monday, so we'll be hoping for both a good match and commentators who are not filling in time between baseball and basketball assignments.

Swansea are making all the right noises about not taking the game lightly but they wouldn't. It's the club's finest chance to win a major trophy and return to Europe, albeit as an English representative.

Not bad for a club that was one game away from being relegated to the Conference in May 2003.

In fact, this could very much have been a Conference league match but for some fluctuating fortunes.

Bradford, the fourth division minnows who a few months ago were a better bet to be relegated than go to Wembley, have already taken the scalps of Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa. They warmed up for the final by losing at home to Wimbledon, who are bottom of the league, while Swansea were equally unimpressive in being thumped 5-0 by Liverpool.

For me, the match has 3-0 with Spanish star Michu getting on the scoresheet written all over it. The bookies are more inclined to go for 2-0. But this competition has a history of upsets, and the possiblity Bradford could rise to the occasion again is what makes the match all the more compelling.

It's Hawk Eye v GoalRef, but I don't care who wins. One of the two systems will be used at the next World Cup to let referees know if a ball has crossed the goal- line.

Charlie Adam can't nail a first team place at Stoke and could be looking for new pastures . . . Shanghai Shenhua, who had and lost Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, have been found guilty of match-fixing following an investigation into a match played 10 years ago . . . of the players who have left Arsenal since their last trophy, 27 have won 76 trophies between them.

Aldershot, who are 20th in the fourth division, have sacked manager Dean Holdsworth . . . Manchester United's chief executive David Gill will step down at the end of June but remain as a director. Ed Woodward will take his place . . . former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre, 35, is tipped to join MSL club Portland Timbers.

Gabriel Agbonlahor believes fellow striker Christian Benteke should aim "higher" than Spurs or Arsenal if he leaves Aston Villa . . . former England skipper Bobby Moore died 20 years ago on Sunday . . . the tabloids reckon Roma could offer Roberto Mancini a return ticket to Italy at the end of the season if his current employers are prepared to let him go.

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Blackpool starlet Thomas Ince has his dad as a new boss. Paul Ince took over on Monday but got off to a bad start with a 2-0 loss at Leeds . . . Dundee United, 15 points behind the field in the Scottish premier league, have sacked manager Barry Smith. United were promoted last season at the expense of Rangers . . . Former England boss Steve McLaren is under pressure at FC Twente, who have not won since December 21.

Tunisian ref Slim Jdidi has acknowledged and apologised for a series of blunders he made in the African Nations Cup semifinal between Ghana and Burkina Faso and denied he was paid off.

Followers, you can't call them fans, of Beitar Jerusalem set fire to the club's offices last week - and destroyed memorabilia and trophies - because they wanted to make their views known on the decision to sign two Muslim players from Chechnya.

Real fans cheered the 19-year-old Gabriel Kadiev when he made his debut and drowned out the boos. The club itself has never had an Arab on its books.

On the move:

James McFadden Sunderland-Motherwell. Loan, John Lundstram Everton-Doncaster, Andrew Driver Hearts-Houston, Jack Robinson Liverpool-Wolves, David Bentley Spurs- Blackburn, Karim Rekik Man C-Blackburn, Matthew Lund Stoke-Southend, Pajtim Kasami Fulham-Lucerne, Michael Richardson Newcastle-Gillingham, Ryan Williams Fulham- Gill'ham, Tadanari Lee Southampton-Tokyo.

Weekend fixtures:

England, Fulham v Stoke, Arsenal v Villa, Norwich v Everton, QPR v Man United, Reading v Wigan, West Brom v Sunderland. Sunday, Man City v Chelsea, Newcastle v Southampton. League Cup final, Swansea v Bradford. Monday, West Ham v Tottenham. Scotland, Hearts v Inverness, Kilmarnock v Aberdeen, Ross County v Motherwell, St. Johnstone v St. Mirren. Sunday, Celtic v Dundee, Dundee United v Hibernian.


- Taranaki Daily News

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