All eyes will be on Manchester City and Sunderland tomorrow as the first major trophy of the season is up for grabs at Wembley. City are odds on favourites to take home the silverware despite a recent run of results which have been far from ideal. The stakes are enormous for everyone at City and they simply must win. Here’s why…
5 trophies, 5 years. That is Pellegrini’s target as laid out from the start. A League Cup win would be the perfect way to start down that road for a man often confronted with the fact that he has never won a trophy in Europe before.
As Rob Pollard points out here, winning tomorrow would immediately relieve some of the pressure being levered onto Pellegrini and allow him to push forward into the rest of the season with more confidence.
Also, Pellegrini seems like such a nice man that he should absolutely get what he wants – in this case a trophy win.
The majority of the players that were around to win the FA Cup and Premier League title are still around and tomorrow’s game is their chance to complete the set of domestic trophies. That will be more than enough to motivate the team onwards in pursuit of glory tomorrow.
For others, this is their first shot at glory in the English league, much like Pellegrini, and they will probably not get a better opportunity than this. There are some extremely strong teams left in the FA Cup, and the Premier League race is going to be fought until the bitter end making tomorrow’s final a vital opportunity for success.
City’s prolific strike force has been somewhat subdued over the last four games and they will need to shake off any lingering problems and fatigue in order to win the trophy. The team needs Negredo, Dzeko and Aguero to be brutally accurate in front of goal and the strikers need the rest of the team to be accurately brutal in not allowing Sunderland even the vaguest hint of pulling off an upset.
Finally, to make a more abstract point, keeping players like Aguero in the long term will depend on continuing success. He plays for money, yes, but he also has an absolute joy for the game and success is a big part of that. We have to resign ourselves to losing him eventually – more goals plus a decent World Cup will see the overgrown babies at Madrid unable to control themselves – but whilst we have him, winning trophies is a necessity. If nothing else, Aguero has given the club and the rest of the team so much already that the rest of the players should hopefully repay him in kind.
The fans need a win tomorrow, especially against Sunderland who have become larger than life in our collective imaginations. I have argued before that every City fan has to weigh up the moral issues that come with supporting a club owned by a regime that does not see the value in human life that they should do. Success makes such calculations easier. Without getting too David Conn about it, the case for supporting these people with our time and money becomes weaker in the absence of success.
And by and large, the fans have seen success in the years since the takeover – with the glaring exception of last year’s FA Cup Final.
Ben Watson broke City fans’ hearts on the last trip to Wembley and that awful match is a ghost which needs exorcising. City were a broken team that day; Mancini was gone, the fans were consumed by self doubt, and the players were creatively bankrupt. Another loss like that would confirm City as ‘big game bottlers’ in the eyes of a media and opposition fans already deeply suspicious of the club. That tag and further accusations of mercenary players will be almost impossible to lose in the future.
Tomorrow’s final is a chance for the players to right that wrong and repay the supporters’ faith in them.
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter