Finals are often tense affairs and the players were definitely suffering from nerves in the first-half yesterday. Maybe it was the occasion; maybe it was the memory of the FA Cup final defeat, but City weren’t at their best in that first 45 minutes. We kept the ball well but didn’t move it around quick enough and failed to really do anything with our possession.
We got caught out and found ourselves behind and the City fans can be forgiven for feeling like the game was taking a familiar pattern to our last four against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light (four 1-0 defeats), although, I sometimes feel the nervousness of our fans can be a bit much and is ultimately detrimental to the team.
The manager deserves credit for his words at half-time which clearly inspired the players. The quality of the goals we scored in the second-half was outstanding, particularly given the occasion. Yaya’s will obviously be the one most remembered, but Nasri’s outside-of-the-boot finish was exquisite, and the breakaway goal at the end was magnificent. I was so pleased Navas finished that because his cameo was brilliant (again).
Winning the cup is great for the club. We haven’t been in a League Cup final for 38 years, and prior to that we’d been in three in the space of six years. We used to have a close bond with the competition but that had been eroded in the intervening years. When you look at the famous ex-players and managers who were involved in those successes – Lee, Bell, Summerbee, Doyle, Mercer – the romanticism of our involvement in the competition hits you and makes the win yesterday even more special.
But for one man this win was even more important. Manuel Pellegrini hadn’t won a major trophy as a manager in Europe until yesterday (the Intertoto Cup doesn’t count, I’m afraid), and so for him this will be a relief as well as cause for celebration. He deserves it, too. It’s staggering that there are question marks about his suitability for a big job, particularly given the job he did at Villarreal, but that’s the nature of the media in this country.
And hopefully it will be the push we need to secure at least one more trophy this season. A domestic treble is not out the realms of possibility, even with our congested fixture list that could see us nine points and three games behind Chelsea next time we kick a ball in the league. The treble has never been done before and, if we did manage it, Pellegrini certainly wouldn’t be doubted anymore.
It’s been a great season so far, full of beautiful football and exciting games, and there’s more to come. Enjoy it. Times like this don’t last forever.
Written by Rob Pollard