By Bob Young
Come five o’clock on Saturday night at the Spotland, I can’t imagine David Wagner mocking the Rochdale fans by launching into a jubilant rant - ‘Lord Byron, Gracie Fields, Lisa Stansfield, John Peel, Anna Friel, Don Estelle, Bill Oddie, your boys took a hell of a beating!’
For those of you thinking I’ve finally lost the plot, or for those of you too young to remember - that was the reaction of a Norwegian commentator when Norway defeated England 2-1 in a 1981 World Cup qualifier - go check it out!
No, he’s way too cool for that. Instead he’ll most likely just have a contented smile on his face and offer his hand of condolence to Dale’s manager Keith Hill.
I’m saying this fully expecting Town to put 3 or maybe 4 goals past Rochdale in this weekend’s FA Cup fourth round tie and progress to round five, although that’s something they’ve only achieved twice in the last 50 years.
Before last Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing at home to Oxford, Rochdale had won ten games on the bounce and stormed into the playoff places.
So how come I’m not giving them a chance against a Town side who might be forgiven for having their minds set on promotion from the Championship?
Quite simply it’s the gulf of class between the two leagues.
Town are riding high in the second tier and are fully 26 places above the league one outfit.
If Wagner puts out anything like a first-choice XI, then they should prove far too strong for Rochdale.
Ladbrokes odds compilers agree with me - set aside Rochdale’s stunning home form they are outsiders at 23/10 - Town are half that price and favourites at 23/20.
And the draw, which Town certainly don’t need, is on offer at 12/5.
So is a repeat of the Port Vale result in the previous round out of the question for Town?
Well it’s a long shot at 40/1 and maybe the Town Boss will rest one or two of his leading lights, so I’ll take the 18/1 on a more conservative 3-0 win for the Terriers.
As I’ve mentioned, Town’s record in the cup of late isn’t exactly inspiring and this is reflected in their odds of 100/1 to win the competition outright.
Once they’ve disposed of Rochdale maybe they can bring one of the Premier League big boys to the John Smith's Stadium, cheer up the chairman by swelling the coffers, go out in a blaze of glory say 4-3 - and then concentrate on escaping the Championship.
Emirates FA Cup 2016/2017 outrights:
Manchester City 5/1
Manchester United 5/1
Leeds United 80/1
Sutton United 1500/1
Selected teams, others available at www.ladbrokes.com
If the 26-team gap between Town and Rochdale is a ‘gulf of class’ then how about the 80+ gap that separates National League side Sutton United and play-off hopefuls Leeds United?
It should - on paper - be a walkover for Garry Monk’s men, but then remember when this time three years ago when they lost 1-0 at Rochdale - maybe I should have another look at that Dale v Town betting!
In 2008 Leeds lost to Histon FC at Bridge Road, in 2002 when they were flying high in the Premiership they lost to then-second division side Cardiff City and then there was probably the biggest FA Cup shock of all time when in 1973 Sunderland beat Don Revie’s ‘Mighty Whites’ 1-0 in the final.
On that day at Wembley, Leeds were odds-on 1/3 to brush aside Sunderland who at 7/2 didn’t stand a chance - or so the experts said.
The Black Cats - led by keeper Jim Montgomery - had other ideas.
Leeds fans will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself and, as good as Sutton were against Eastleigh in the previous round, I really can’t see an upset here.
Ladbrokes have Leeds 4/6 white-hot favourites with the home side at 15/4 - a not impossible draw is on offer at 14/5.
Elsewhere in the cup, expect wins for Blackburn against Blackpool, Spurs against Wycombe and - what might prove to be the shock of the round - when Fulham knock out Hull City.
This weekend’s treble:
Town to beat Rochdale @ 23/20
Leeds to beat Sutton @ 4/6
Fulham to beat Hull @ 21/20
A £10 stake with Ladbrokes ‘The Nation’s Favourite’ returns a rather handsome £73.46
Place your bets at www.ladbrokes.com