Championship sides are often in an interesting position in the FA Cup.
They aren’t far down enough the English football ladder to prompt support for the magic of the FA Cup, but they aren’t fancied to take down the titans of the Premier League in most cases either.
But there are some Championship sides heading into next season who have a real shot at making some noise in the FA Cup, and upsetting the natural order of the tournament.
Wigan Athletic had one of the most interesting FA Cup runs of all-time, when they managed to win the entire tournament despite getting relegated from Premier League competition in the same season. Perhaps more interesting was who Wigan had to beat to earn that trophy, as they managed to hold a potent Manchester City attack scoreless in a 1-0 FA Cup winning victory that shocked the football world.
City, of course, are on the verge of yet another FA Cup title as they are the favourites to win the tournament as they reached the final against Watford. Paddy Power has the Citizens at 1/5 odds to win the game in normal time to secure the domestic treble for the 2019-2020 season, a feat that has not been performed by a Premier League side to date. If anything, the continued rise of City has made what Wigan did in 2013 even more impressive.
As for this year’s team, there isn’t a lot of resemblance between the Wigan side that won the FA Cup and the side now. But the club and its supporters know full well how to navigate the tournament, something that gives them an advantage over most Championship sides who have yet to experience the same levels of success in the competition.
Manager Tony Pulis said that he considered the season for Middlesbrough to be a successful one regardless of whether or not the team ends up in the Premier League again. But the team could be in for more success next season, as they look like they would have a real shot to disrupt the traditional powers in the FA Cup thanks to one of the most stout defences in English football.
Boro allowed just 41 goals in 46 league matches in the Championship in the 2018-2019 season, tying them with Sheffield United for the best defensive mark in the league. Boro only knocked in 49 goals for the year, which could be cause for concern against higher-profile opponents, but their defence will likely keep them in games against even the biggest teams in the England club ladder, which could help them pull off some upsets en route to a magical cup run.
There are a lot of things that can change that can derail one of these teams or elevate another Championship team. The additional of newly promoted or relegated teams into the league can affect the balance of power, as can transfers and other forms of player movement. But as it stands right now, don’t be surprised if Wigan or Boro turn some heads from the Championship in the next FA Cup.