The FA Cup returns this week with City facing Championship strugglers Barnsley in the quarter-final. On paper, it’s a match City should win comfortably, but the Cup often throws up surprises and City would do well to guard against one on Saturday. Ahead of the match we spoke to Wilky, writer on the Barnsley blog On The Ponty End.
So, tell our readers about your season so far. How have you been playing?
Despite Barnsley’s position in the Championship, City supporters may be surprised to hear that the quality of football has been of a good standard (and has definitely improved massively since ‘Flicker’s’ move to the helm). The difficulties we’ve had this year probably stem from two specific areas;
A – being unable to replace players transferred out over the last 12 months, for example Jacob Butterfield (Norwich City), Ricardo Vaz Te (West Ham United) and John Stones (Everton)
B – Keith Hill’s apparent inflexibility on tactics. Barnsley adopted an entertaining, passing game, but lacked any real threat in the most important areas. Few goals scored and more conceded, told the tale until January.
Will you stay up this season?
Definitely. What more can I say?
Who’s Barnsley’s best player?
That’s a difficult one. Since Stonesy departed for Everton in January, Chris Dagnall, David Perkins and Stephen Dawson would all fit in to the pack you might consider. In the FA Cup, ‘Daggers’ has been our top performer.
What do you make of the job David Flitcroft is doing?
He’s clearly had an immediate influence on everyone’s attitude at Barnsley, including the supporter’s too. At the turn of the new year, relegation seemed a certainty and there was no appetite to face Burnley (only 5,091 attended). Tactically, he seems to have more ideas and plays the game positively and in an attractive style.
Do your fans think you’ll get anything from this match with City?
A sore throat from all the noise we’ll be generating! Anything is possible, just go and ask the Liverpool supporters who tasted defeat at home, or the last Champions from Fulham Road we defeated at this stage!
Which City player do you most fear?
In this game, probably Yaya Touré, as I think we will struggle with his height and strength. We’re not a big side and would prefer to be occupied with team and players of similar stature.
How important has the cup run been financially, and has it been a distraction?
It’s no secret that Barnsley are operating on one of the smallest budgets in the Championship, so the cup run will buffer the low attendances we’ve suffered this season and hopefully help us improve the squad and staff this summer. Our record of only two losses in the last ten games shows that players have been able to remain focussed on the league. Further progress is welcome, but we know the league is our bread and butter!
Common sense tells me that City should be a class apart and beat Barnsley comfortably, but I have to back our lads to spring a surprise and send us to Wembley on the back of a 3-2 shock win! You Reds!!