Will Hawkes: Upsets may be thin on ground but punditry can still be pretty shocking

View From The Sofa: FA Cup Highlights, ITV

"On third-round weekend," declared Matt Smith at the beginning of ITV's FA Cup round-up on Saturday evening, "the footballing stories come thick and fast." And if you thought that a slightly meaningless remark, a montage (people peering out of their bedroom windows into tiny non-league grounds, excited fans, mascots goofing about) quickly made it clear what he was driving at: the third round is all about upsets, about the little guys getting one over on the big boys. Except, of course, that it isn't.

The truth is that genuine, 24-carat upsets are rare. That became clear as soon as the first game came on: Swindon v Wigan. Now I suppose this was an upset in the sense that Wigan are in a higher division than Swindon, but in terms of the historic sizes of the clubs, it seemed about right. Before the game, the sides had played each other 10 times, resulting in three wins each and four draws. If this is the best "upset" Saturday's action could provide, they were clearly thin on the ground.

Of course, Swindon's prominence wasn't just about the result: their manager is Paolo Di Canio, the sort of character television cherishes. Sporting a bar scarf tied in the Italian manner, he gave ITV what it was looking for with a slightly strange comment about "bruises in the eyes". "Thanks, Paolo," said Smith, smirking – although about what wasn't clear, since it was far from the dopiest thing said on the programme.

Take the statement addressed by ITV's man at the ground to Di Canio: "To see you at the final whistle was to understand what it meant to you on so many levels today." Er, quite. Putting aside the bit about "so many levels" – because I can't fathom it – this translates as "you looked quite excited; the Cup is still really, really important, isn't it?" Paolo, happily, does think the Cup is still really, really important. "When you beat a team like Wigan," he said, "well, this is the best moment in my life."

Which was more interesting than Roberto Martinez's excuse. "They had that little bit of luck that you need," he claimed. "That little bit of luck," is turning into a little bit of a managerial cliché, but ITV clearly wasn't running scared of clichés on Saturday. Paul Ince, one of the summarisers, got in on the action. "He is a very emotional guy," he said of Di Canio. These Italians, eh, Incey?

Gordon Strachan didn't think it was such a bad day for Martinez. "You are talking to someone," he told Smith, "who once got beat by Clyde in a cup tie. It does'nae get any worse than that. People ask you afterwards: 'How do you feel?'" It's a silly question, Gordon, but it's still a few notches above that line about "so many levels" put to Di Canio, not least because it is, at least, brief.

ITV's problem with regard to the paucity of genuine upsets was brought into even sharper relief when the second match to be featured was Liverpool v Oldham, a game which took place on Friday evening and which resulted in a 5-1 victory for the Premier League side. What ITV was more interested in, of course, was the alleged racist abuse shouted at Oldham Athletic's Tom Adeyemi by a spectator during the game. That put the Cup in its place: less important than the ongoing racist furore surrounding Liverpool FC. Which, when you think about it, is depressing "on so many levels".

Suggested Topics
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home