Big clubs make fairytale cup wins for teams like Brentford hard – Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank believes fairytale cup wins for teams like Brentford are becoming harder to achieve as the powerhouse clubs in England have asserted their dominance in recent editions.

Wigan claimed a memorable upset victory over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final, while months beforehand, Swansea beat Bradford in the showpiece of what is now the Carabao Cup for the first major trophy in their history.

Since then only the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester have gone all the way in the two domestic cup competitions, and the Blues, the Gunners, Tottenham and Liverpool are in this season’s Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Frank accepted Covid-19 could be something of a leveller, with the top teams likely to put their Premier League ambitions ahead of any cup run if an outbreak coupled with injuries limits their player availability pool.

But, ahead of his side starting their FA Cup campaign at Port Vale on Saturday afternoon, he said: “I would love to be the next Wigan to make a fantastic cup run and get a chance to win it. I think it’s more difficult these days.

“I think the classic top-six clubs, if they are there at the end, they just have so much quality, the chance of them winning is just bigger if they are in a semi-final or final.

“If we should go that far, it’s one game and anything can happen, that’s the beauty of the cup tournaments.

“But I’ve seen more and more that the bigger clubs in the end need and want trophies for the fans and go harder for it compared to other years.

“We see that in the Carabao Cup: it’s Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham for the top-six sides.”

Kristoffer Ajer is available again ahead of Premier League Brentford’s trip to League Two Port Vale, with 62 places separating the teams in the football pyramid.

Ajer has been sidelined since October 27 due to hamstring trouble but he featured for over an hour in a friendly against Eastbourne Borough earlier this week and Frank is convinced the Norway defender is ready to return.

Frank added: “You never know what happens in a game but he is 100 per cent fit.

“He’s been tested, he’s trained hard, he played a friendly on Monday where he played 70 minutes and now he’s ready to play a competitive match.

“For me it’s perfect timing; get a competitive experience and then hopefully he’s ready to be fully available to fight for a starting position against Southampton (on Tuesday).

“We are very excited that he is finally available again.”