I DON’T blame Jose Mourinho or Manuel Pellegrini for their teams’ shock FA Cup defeats to lower-league opponents on Saturday; I believe the fault is with the Chelsea and Manchester City players, who have let their managers down.
Mourinho’s pre-match remarks about the disgrace of losing to inferior sides show that he would have prepared them properly for the visit of Bradford, yet they somehow threw away a two-goal lead at home to the League One club.
It is completely unprofessional and raises questions about whether the squad has as much strength in depth as Mourinho has previously stated. Without John Terry they look sorely lacking in leadership, for instance.
That result will also create doubts in the minds of the players. Until now they had looked infallible, but this will severely knock confidence.
Suddenly tomorrow night’s Capital One Cup semi-final at home to Liverpool has taken on extra significance. The Reds are not in a great spell but played well in the first leg. Chelsea need to bounce back quickly.
Manchester City showed a lack of respect not just to Middlesbrough but to the FA Cup as a competition with their decision to return from a trip to Abu Dhabi the evening before their fourth-round loss.
The friendly they played against Hamburg out in the Middle East was on Wednesday. Surely they could have returned to England on Thursday – and I believe they would have, had it been a Premier League game.
Mourinho, Pellegrini and other managers will have been left kicking themselves after seeing so many rivals also eliminated on the same day.
It’s hard to explain why so many big sides lost games they started as hot favourites to win, but one factor is that the cup allows underdogs to play with freedom. That was the feeling we had when I was at Burnley and we beat a Tottenham team featuring Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa 4-1 at White Hart Lane.
It might have been disastrous for Chelsea, City, Spurs and Southampton, but a clutch of good old-fashioned upsets can only be great news for the FA Cup and interest in the competition.
Trevor Steven is a former England international who now works as a media commentator.