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Does Manchester City Have The Self Belief To Be Cup Winners?


It’s probably not often that Manchester City and Prince get mentioned in the same sentence. I doubt the little funky fella spends much time pondering events at Eastlands or writing songs inspired by Micah Richards. However, we can look to his hit, Little Red Corvette to inform us about the current situation at the club. Yes, of course we can.

As you may recall, in the song, our hero is getting, what the younger generation might call jiggy, with a fast lady and goes to place where her ‘horses run free’ (euphemism alert: he’s not talking about horses) and there spies, “all the pictures of the jockeys that were there before me.”

Naturally, this intimidates him somewhat, “Believe it or not, I started to worry, I wondered if I had enough class.”

And that’s exactly the position that City find themselves in today.

After last nights 2-1 win over United in the League Cup semi-final 1st leg, they stand on the threshold of their first final since 1976. More than that, they stand on the threshold of breaking into the big time in the Premier League, of maybe even winning it.

Have they got enough class? Well if they haven’t you can be sure they will go out and buy some more. Acquiring top quality players will not be a problem with infinite money to spend and no profit required to be made.

The only thing that can hold the City juggernaut back now is self belief. Their rivals have all been there and done it; cups, leagues, Europe and that counts big when the pressure is on. If City doesn’t believe they’re the real deal then they won’t be.

It’s not as easy as it might seem for a manager to break down the inhibition and doubt that decades of lack of success can ingrain into a club. Although the players are all from elsewhere, it makes no difference. They all know the club’s history. They are charged with changing it. That takes bottle and nerve. It’s a battle in the head as much as on the pitch.

This was Mourinho’s greatest achievement with Chelsea. He inherited a team which had almost won the league under Ranieri and turned them from nearly men into winners. The difference was every bit as much psychological as tactical. The great motivators make you believe not only you can win but that it’s your destiny to win; that you really are the best.

This will be the big test for Mancini. Last night’s game shows how far he has to go and how far the club has traveled. For long periods of the game, especially in the first half, City stood off United and let them play. They were inhibited, scared by the occasion. Once they got the lucky penalty, briefly their confidence returned. But after half time they went back into their shell again. A mis-firing United side dominated play for much of the game but they were not the better side. Had City only had belief in their class from the start, they could have had the tie won already.

The return leg at Old Trafford will only test their psychology more. Will they buckle or will they, like Prince, ‘try and tame your little red love machine’?

Editor’s note: It’s with great pleasure to announce the return of John Nicholson, football columnist for Football 365 and author of FootyRocks to EPL Talk. Nicholson is well known for his tales of sex, drugs and rock’n roll and, of course, football glory; and he’l be writing for this site on a weekly basis moving forward.

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  1. jleau

    January 21, 2010 at 1:19 am

    One of the best articles that I’ve read on this site!!

  2. robert

    January 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Prince and football. Who’d’ve thunk it. Nice.

    I think the bigger question is whether or not City have the “self” to be cup winners. The don’t seem to have figured out an identity yet. The injuries don’t help and a new coaching philosophy won’t make it happen faster, but when they decide on who they are? Watch out.

  3. Tyson

    January 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Fergusons priority has always been:

    Premier League
    Champions League
    FA Cup
    Carling Cup

    Manchester United only need one goal to go through to the Carling final but if City turn the pressure up on United, United will not pursue them very far as they have a more important league game on the weekend.

    Simply put if City are playing on the back foot United will get the goal they need and just sit it out. If City come at them United will act like the game is a lost caue and save their legs for the league game against Arsenal.

    I was reading something in the papers about the Carling and FA Cup and the fuutre of the European league a while ago and and aside from the European Super League that gets bought up all the time the feelings were that the FA and Carling Cup were going to be dead in a decade.

    Really goes to show you much they mean in modern day football.

    • Huh

      January 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      Away goals don’t count in this cup. You like pressing the little thumbs buttons don’t you lol

  4. Huh

    January 20, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Hey John, how about if City had Toure, Bridge, Lescot, Johnson, Adebayour, Santa Cruz and Vieira available or even if they could have used Ireland, Petrov or Onuoha after they were put on the bench though injuries (long list eh), now lets see that’s ten players out 5-6 of them first team players half the team! but lets not forget Utd‘s 2 injuries as well eh. not to mention starting a right back as a left winger (no other options). I wonder how this great Utd team would have done then?

    By the way John, if a defender uses his hands on an attacking player in the penalty area to either put the player off or pull him off his stride this is known as a foul which results in a penalty (if he wasn’t doing either of these things then please enlighten me to what he was doing, did he spot a bit of dirt on the shirt and simply took the opportunity to help clean it?). In your American football you can use your hands but not in the English game this is frowned upon John! The fact is he used his hands to try to gain an advantage, that’s known as a foul! No luck needed, don‘t use your hands and no penalty to pay simple. Wonder what crap they’ll come out with if there put out at Old Nafford!

    • Eddie

      January 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      He’s not an American. John is from Middlesborough.

  5. Peter

    January 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Great article but not to sound to pedantic (although i probably am being), but shouldn’t the title of the article be “Do Manchester City …” not “Does”. Just a thought. A great read anyway.

  6. Eddie

    January 20, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Excellent. Great to see John Nich here. Love the columns on F365.

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