Former Bradford City great Wetherall: Win over Aston Villa would eclipse our Liverpool triumph (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Former Bradford City great David Wetherall: Win over Aston Villa would eclipse our Liverpool triumph
A victory over Aston Villa would rank higher in the Valley Parade hall of fame than THAT win against Liverpool.
The May 2000 triumph that saved City’s Premier League bacon – for another year at least – will always go down as one of the finest home results in the club’s history.
But David Wetherall, who scored the famous winning header, believes that beating Villa in tonight’s Capital One Cup semi-final first leg would trump even that.
Wetherall said: “The odds are stacked far more against Bradford, just like in the Arsenal game in the last round, than they were when we played Liverpool.
“At that time we were obviously in the same league and were expected to compete pretty much on the same level, although there are divisions within divisions then as there still are.
“It was a great achievement but not as big as a League Two team drawing with Arsenal over two hours and then beating them on penalties. And beating Aston Villa would be bigger still.”
But Wetherall admits City are still massive underdogs despite dumping the Gunners and he has warned fans not to get too carried away as they contemplate a third shot at top-flight opposition.
He added: “My only concern is that people’s expectations have changed. Every-body should maintain a sense of realism. Look at the number of places in the league between the two clubs.
“Because Bradford got through against Arsenal and with the Christmas that Villa have had, there’s a danger that people are probably building up City’s chances and expectations more than there’s a right to be.
“We have to keep things in perspective and be realistic about it.
“I’m sure the players and the club will do everybody proud but they shouldn’t be expected to have a great chance of progress against Premier League opposition, who have been in the top division for so long.
“Villa have had a few bad results – and conceded quite a lot of goals – but they were against Premier League clubs. It was only a few weeks ago that they went to Anfield and won.
“But it’s magnificent for the club and for the team to raise their profile and to have the Bradford people excited about a football game again.”
Wetherall ended a 12-year association with City when he took up the lofty role of head of youth development at the Football League 18 months ago.
But he retains a huge affection for Valley Parade and was back there for the quarter-finals.
He said: “It was great being at the game and seeing the place full. The strange thing looking back on the first season in the Premier League was that even though we had the crowds, it never felt like that because of the building work going on.
“To see it like that was almost a new experience and the atmosphere was something special.
“Bradford did exceptionally well on the night and everybody connected with the club had the right to be so proud.
“You expected Arsenal to dominate possession at times and that became the case more as the game wore on.
“But once it got to penalties, you had to be confident with the record the club have got. It’s always some sort of lottery and there was far less pressure on Bradford then.
“Now being in the semi-finals is an incredible achievement and hopefully this cup run will provide a springboard both financially and in terms of people’s interest.
“I think the chairmen might have their chequebook out. Promotion has been the aim for a long time, that’s what the club wants and needs.
“When the focus of cup competitions diminishes later in the season, hopefully after the final on February 24, they need to carry that momentum into the league and really push on.”