Ben Burgess column: Smaller sides show FA Cup is alive and well

Fleetwood Town showed what they were all about against Leicester City as some of the lower league teams made an FA Cup impression
Fleetwood Town showed what they were all about against Leicester City as some of the lower league teams made an FA Cup impression

The FA Cup third round certainly lived up to its billing last weekend. There were some fantastic performances from the lower league teams.

In a time when the financial disparity between the Premier League and the rest is at its highest, it’s ever so refreshing to see the big boys get their feathers ruffled.

I’ve experienced beating higher-ranked teams and I’ve also lost to non-league sides.

It comes down to a lack of desire and a huge underestimation of the players in the lower leagues.

Football doesn’t have to be too complicated and you don’t necessarily need the best players to form the best team, as we showed under Simon Grayson and Ian Holloway.

What you need is a belief in each other and to be well organised.

Take my ex-team-mate Michael Flynn as an example.

He hasn’t gone to Newport County and tried to reinvent football, like Pep Guardiola has.

Instead he used his qualities to forge a team spirit that enabled them to make an unbelievable escape from relegation last season and this season he has used his tactical and coaching abilities to transform Newport into promotion contenders.

They also gave themselves a huge boost in profits and profile when they dispatched the once great Leeds United to progress to the fourth round.

Newport County were followed by Nottingham Forest who, despite having no manager, beat Arsenal 4-2.

League Two Coventry City put an end to Mark Hughes’ managerial reign at Stoke City with a comfortable win over their Premier League opponents.

Right on our doorstep Fleetwood Town put on a great display to once again show the country the giant strides they have made over the last six or seven years.

In the end they could have easily beaten recent Premier League champions Leicester City but a draw at least gives them another chance to show their quality and a nice trip out to the King Power Stadium.

The FA Cup also gave a couple of ‘fiery’ managers a chance to air their views, mostly about each other.

The two bosses in question were obviously messrs Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.

Mourinho, like Alex Ferguson before him, has long used verbal sparring to destroy rivals and to provoke a reaction.

His war of words with Conte began last season when the new Chelsea boss had the audacity to celebrate a 4-0 victory over Manchester United.

The disagreements have risen to a whole other level over the last week.

First, Mourinho inferred that Conte was a clown, which Conte struck back with a phrase that, when translated, meant ‘senile dementia’.

Mourinho made reference to Conte’s match-fixing suspension and Conte replied by calling Jose a ‘little man’ and a ‘fake’ for his hypocrisy towards Claudio Ranieri and also offering to meet Mourinho in a room at Old Trafford when the sides clash again.

It’s the kind of tit-for-tat nonsense that I would be disappointed if I heard in my primary school.

It does make for entertaining reading though, but I’m not sure either manager will emerge from this ‘spat’ with any credit.

In the opening week of the transfer window, Liverpool’s investment in Philippe Coutinho has proved more fruitful than buying Bitcoin!

He was initially bought from Inter Milan for £8.5m and sold five years later for £142m.

How many trophies did he inspire his Liverpool team to win? The answer is zero.

He is an excellent player but he’s certainly not among the top five players in the world and would even be lucky to scrape into the top 10.

The feeling among experts, is that his absence will barely even register at Anfield due to their abundance of attacking quality.

Now Liverpool need to be patient with the money and not waste it on another Andy Carroll panic signing.