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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Stoke Hopes That City Are Very Blue Come Saturday Evening

Written by on May 13, 2011 | 10 Comments »
Posted in Cup Competitions, General, Manchester City, Stoke City

As if being disparaged as a meaningful competition was not enough the FA Cup Final for 2011 is now squeezed in with Premier League matches on just another weekend.

I can only assume that the decision to move the Final from the traditional slot of the weekend after the conclusion of the domestic league fixtures has been based on the Champions League final being at Wembley on May 28.

Nonetheless you would have thought that the FA and the Richard Scudamore Premier League could have found a way to allow the FA Cup Final a special place on the calendar no matter the other calls on Wembley Stadium.

Now we have both teams, Manchester City and Stoke, who are going to have accept that their “day in the sun” is going to be being more like “a day with clouds and possible showers” – a definite chance of their parade being rained on.

It is very unfortunate and short sighted because we have two teams that are long overdue a chance to lift a trophy and fans that seem genuinely excited at the prospect rather than others who may view it as just another notch on the trophy bedpost.

Manchester City last made it to a FA Cup Final in 1981 but lost after a replay to Spurs in a match widely regarded as a classic. Their last FA Cup final came in 1969 when City beat Leicester City by the only goal of the game scored by Neil Young.

Young died earlier this year after a long illness and the club has dedicated this season’s cup run to their former hero. Stoke’s wait has been considerably longer.

Formed in 1863 this is their first ever FA Cup final although they did win the 1972 League Cup Final at Wembley.

There have been three failures at the semi final stage before the total dismantling of Bolton just a few weeks ago allowed the club to take that one “final” step.

Both teams have injury concerns for the final but City have a bit more of a reason to be more optimistic.  Carlos Tevez went down with a hamstring injury against Liverpool and at that time it looked as if a return this season was out of the question.

But Tevez made it back – albeit for 7 minutes or so – against Spurs on Tuesday and the problem now facing City manager Roberto Mancini seems to be whether he gambles on starting Tevez or to keep him in reserve on the bench.

A hamstring also saw Stoke’s Matthew Etherington pull up and he looks to be more of a doubt.

Centre back (and goal threat) Robert Huth is also problematic after suffering a knee injury against Arsenal. Manchester City are favourites but Stoke’s directness and set play deliveries makes them extremely dangerous.

The fact that City lost two goals to Everton headers last weekend at Goodison will not have been missed on Stoke manager Tony Pulis.

Stoke also have a decent record against Manchester City over the last few years and actually knocked City out of the FA Cup last season after a replay.

Reminds me of – the 1987 FA Cup Final when Spurs (3rd place in English First Division) faced Coventry City (finished 10th). Coventry had never won the FA Cup or been to a final but they beat Spurs 3-2 in extra time.

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10 responses to “Stoke Hopes That City Are Very Blue Come Saturday Evening”

  1. Seattle_Loon says:

    A spot-on article Bobby. Sadly, the focus on the Champion’s League since four teams can qualify has greatly diminished the importance of a final which has produced so many great games and memorable upsets in the past. There’s every chance that had Man City not guaranteed a top-four spot by now they would have fielded a weaker side.

  2. Boris says:

    So after starting the season with a debt of 20 mil euro, Schalke have seen their debt sky rocket to a whopping 150 mil euro. Schalke claim that investing into Champions League has been the main cause for the club’s rising debt.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    Boris – I believe a club’s financial report as much as I do Derek Taylor’s predictions. 🙂

    Schalke went deep into the CL (earning lots of cash), got Raul on a free and will sell Neuer for a small fortune. Other than player’s wages, a debt of 150M euros just doesn’t make sense (even if they have 35 players on payroll).

  4. Erik says:

    I also question the $20M to $150 M rise in debt

    As for this game I’m rooting for Stooooooooooooooooke. Nothing against City I just like the way Stoke plays and how they have done things. Hard not to root for the Underdog which is why so many people have fallen in love with Blackpool this season

    BTW – Bobby – on tonite’s FSR as well as next Friday (if need be) please give your prediction as to who gets relegated…….West Ham is almost a given but after that who knows. We COULD (not likely but we COULD) see West Ham. Wigan and Blackpool all get relegated this weekend……if Blackpool does not WIN this weekend and is still alive they need to go to Old Trafford and do what no team has done this season – not likely. I can see Pool getting a point but not 3

  5. Erik – you are going to have to be docked points for not paying attention – naughty.

    Last Friday we had close to an entire podcast dedicated to the relegation battle. Eoin and me both gave our predictions and asked others to chime in.

    http://www.soccerreportextra.com/soccer-report-extra-podcast/soccer-report-extra-podcast-episode-13-we-found-bobby-and-he-wants-to-talk-relegation/

  6. houyhnhnm says:

    @seattle loon, The problem with the domestic and league cups is their association to the europa league. Champions league entry is based on league table results. Europa league entry is based on league table results, and domestic and league cup results.
    Domestic and league cups need their own european championship, solely to their victors and rankings.
    UEFA needs to split the europa league into two seperate competitions.

    1. a “cup winners league” where only winners of domestic or league cups can play or the highest ranked teams in those tournaments not in the CL, and it can be like the old champions league format, with a straight knockout format, no group phase.
    leg entries based on league coefficients. Members of this tournament can not be in the CL, or Europa league.
    2. a “europa league” without domestic and league cup winners present, where champions league losers can drop into it, as well as “cup winners league” losers can drop into it.

  7. houyhnhnm says:

    boris, great point about Schalke, teams have to have good management and comprehension of themselves

  8. Erik says:

    Bobby – I heard the Podcast – great analysis and all. BUT – that was last week and as we all know the teams you thought might be going down LAST week might be very different than THIS week………right?

    In that Podcast you had Blackpool, Blackburn and West Ham going down. Still think those 3 are going down? Odds are if we gave you another chance you might change Blackburn and Wigan

    This is what I am getting at. What you thought last week and what you think now might be very different

  9. Bobby says:

    Sticking with my picks – I am suffering enough guilt after having to change the picks from August.

  10. redfan says:

    Cup winners should go into the Cup Winners Cup and it should never have been scrapped. That is my opinion anyways and the sooner they bring it back the better.

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