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Noisy neighbours move to Wembley

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Phil McNulty | 20:52 UK time, Sunday, 13 March 2011

Eastlands

Sir Alex Ferguson will be forced to share a home with his "noisy neighbours" for a day after Manchester City set up an FA Cup semi-final meeting with Manchester United at Wembley.

Ferguson mockingly applied the tag to City after their Abu Dhabi-based owners embarked on a high-profile transfer policy that lured Carlos Tevez from Old Trafford - claiming the answer to such a nuisance was to "put your television on and turn it up a bit louder."

The Scot will need to adopt more conventional measures to keep City under control as they claimed the place they crave alongside Manchester United on the biggest stage with a laboured 1-0 win over Reading at Eastlands.

United reign supreme in Manchester as Premier League pace-setters who are still in pursuit of the Champions League and FA Cup, but the first confrontation between the clubs at Wembley represents a huge opportunity for City and boss Roberto Mancini.

An all-Manchester final may have been an even more enticing prospect for some, but the semi-final will be mouth-watering enough to be going on with as they fight for the right to face either Stoke City or Bolton Wanderers.

Mancini is convinced City are moving closer to United, illustrating the distance between the sides by holding his thumb and finger just an inch apart. Now the Italian and his team have the chace to back up their brave talk with an FA Cup Final place as the prize.

He can produce recent hard-fought Manchester derbies as evidence, but the case for the prosecution will point to United's ability to invariably find a way to beat City, whether it is through last-minute goals from Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes - or simply via Rooney's remarkable overhead kick winner at Old Trafford last month.

Manchester City boss Robert ManciniMancini will be desperate to dethrone United as kings of Manchester

Mancini must hope he can alter the pattern. And what better place to find the solution than at Wembley as Manchester decamps to London for the day.

When news of the semi-final draw and a potential clash with United swept around Eastlands minutes before kick-off against Reading the reaction was underwhelming.

When referee Lee Probert sounded his final whistle and Micah Richards' 74th minute header had made the tie a reality, the reservations were replaced by defiance as City reached their first FA Cup semi-final since 1981 and took a step closer to their first major trophy since the League Cup win against Newcastle United at Wembley in 1976.

The importance of the moment was emphasised by the normally reserved Mancini's impromptu hug for goalscorer Richards, a radical departure for a coach renowned for keeping a carefully calculated distance from his charges.

For all the money spent at Eastlands, City's hierarchy will know silverware must be a return on this lavish investment. If they can claim United's scalp on the way to doing so then any bold talk of a possible future switch in Manchester's balance of footballing power will carry more credibility.

If City win a game of such importance and profile, it will provide the sort of injection of confidence and self-belief that even the Abu Dhabi chequebook would struggle to provide.

If United beat City at Wembley, it will tighten the stranglehold they have exerted for so long and keep those neighbours in what all at Old Trafford regard as their rightful place.

City's performance was scruffy, jaded and hardly the sort to fill United with unease, but it was a fully deserved win against dogged opponents who proved their danger by dispensing of Everton at Goodison Park in the fifth round.

In mitigation, it came after a trip to Dynamo Kiev and Europa League defeat on Thursday. Mancini must hope the sight of United in opposition at Wembley will fill any tired legs with new energy and he clearly feels he is due a win against the old enemy.

The former Inter Milan coach said after the recent loss at Old Trafford: "It is like my first two years in Milan. Every time we played AC Milan we didn't deserve to lose, every time we did. For the same thing to happen again is incredible."

And there may well be plenty riding on the game personally for Mancini as his conservative style means he still struggles to win universal acceptance at Eastlands.

As City struggled to break down Reading, plenty of voices could be heard urging Mancini to take positive action to solve the problem, which he eventually did by introducing the fragile, and occasionally allergic to grass, Mario Balotelli,

And with Sunday bringing fresh speculation linking Jose Mourinho with his job should City's season have an unhappy ending, victory against United will allow him to make a powerful statement of his own. A place in the FA Cup Final is invariably enough to ease discontent.

The Wembley meeting will be full of the twists and sub-plots that make FA Cup semi-finals magical occasions, even without the added spice of local rivalry.

Tevez will captain City, a talismanic figure and the biggest danger to the club he left in contentious circumstances when he switched allegiance from Old Trafford to Eastlands.

Ferguson, for his part, will not want the scar of Wembley defeat to City on his glittering cv - and his regard for the neighbouring regime was graphically illustrated in the aftermath of Tevez's departure.

An icy blast blew in the direction of Eastlands after City paraded Tevez on that infamous "Welcome To Manchester" poster, much to the old master's irritation.

Ferguson said: "It's City isn't it? They are a small club with a small mentality. All they can talk about is Manchester United; they can't get away from it. That arrogance will be rewarded. It is a go at us, that's the one thing it is. They think taking Carlos Tevez away from Manchester United is a triumph. It is poor stuff."

It is highly unlikely Ferguson's feelings will have thawed by the teams walk out side by side at Wembley, a day for a city to savour.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.


Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Hope City dont make this game as dull as they've made the majority of the big games they've been involved in this season.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just when I thought it was going to be a well rounded article...

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm guessing that most neutrals will be hoping that city make through. But what of the other semi? Which of the two will make for the better final?

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    * sorry meant PARTIAL!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Jealous?

  • Comment number 7.

    As an aside, the draw means that Stoke or Bolton will play in the Europa League next season, and 6th place will miss out on European football, unless:

    1. Manchester City win the Cup and finish 5th in the Premier League, or;

    2. Liverpool win the Europa League this season.

  • Comment number 8.

    @7

    I think you're wrong, the runners-up in the domestic cup competitions no longer qualify for Europe if the winner has already qualified. The European places automatically go to the next team in the Premier League who has not qualified for Europe. As things stand that would be Liverpool.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can I just ask when the media will stop hyping up this fixture?! It's getting boring. City have not beaten United in a meaningful fixture in I don't know how long and the press insist on bigging it up! Why?! Tevez already wants to leave this side and they have not managed to challenge for anything apart from 4th in the Premier League. They are an inconsistent side who would struggle to do what Spurs have done with a far more star studded side. The only reason that City are where they are is by default, as in all the other sides performing poorly this season. Even if City do win this time, it is hardly a shift in power. I would say to the press "grow up" and stop treating people like imbeciles. This is an FA Cup match between two sides who a long way separated in terms of legend. If City win, count it is a giant killing! And no, I do not support United. I support Southampton and we are not so narcissistic to think we are brilliant just because we beat them 6-3! Grow up!

  • Comment number 10.


    -------------------------
    3. At 00:24am on 14 Mar 2011, cockspur wrote:

    I'm guessing that most neutrals will be hoping that city make through.

    -------------------------

    Errmm..then they are not neutrals are they??!

  • Comment number 11.

    Nope, I'm wrong, Stoke or Bolton will indeed qualify for Europe apart from the circumstances mentioned. However I wouldn't call it missing out for the 6th placed team as the actual Europa League places are reserved for the teams who win/are runners-up in the domestic cups and the places only default to the 6th and 7th placed finishers in the Premier League if the winners and runners-up have already qualified for Europe.

  • Comment number 12.

    Cant wait for this game, it may be over-hyped but at least this derby has gained some significance over the past couple of seasons. It will never come close to the rivalry with liverpool but with all the wealth of man city the victory will somehow seem sweeter. It has annoyed me they have bought balotelli though, he is like the ibrahimovic and robinho of the footballing world who have high opinions of themselves, never seem to perform on the biggest stage and are constantly moaning or unhappy even though they get to play at the highest level doing the thing they love.

  • Comment number 13.

    8. At 01:05am on 14 Mar 2011, BaldingTiger wrote:
    @7

    I think you're wrong, the runners-up in the domestic cup competitions no longer qualify for Europe if the winner has already qualified. The European places automatically go to the next team in the Premier League who has not qualified for Europe. As things stand that would be Liverpool.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As far as I'm aware, the losing Cup finalists do qualify for the Europa League at the expense of the next league finisher.

    At worst, Stoke/Bolton will be losing cup finalists to either Manchester United ( will qualify for the CL ) or Manchester City ( possibly qualifying for the CL ).

    The only reason Portsmouth weren't in this season's Europa League was because they didn't meet UEFA's requirements for financial solvency.

  • Comment number 14.

    Who cares.

  • Comment number 15.

    Come On United! Time to quieten the noisy neighbours again. I know we can do it.

    Motihur Saeed Rahman, Great Barr

  • Comment number 16.

    This is going to be a strange match for both United and City, I think. Two clubs in the same city, "loving" each other, wanting to beat each other, but:

    a) City expecting to concentrate on their dogfight with Spurs about that elusive 4th position leading to the Champions League;
    b) United fighting with all guns out for that elusive 19th title.

    I'm very curious about how both managers will approach the game :)

  • Comment number 17.

    I believe this time around Mancini will be more positive. No more playing for draw/ replay and this will be so gud for the game itself as Fergie will fight so hard 2 make sure the 'noisy neighbours' remain with 'Carlos Tevez signing trophy' only.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm very curious about how both managers will approach the game :)

    -----------------------------------------------------
    Mancini will be his usual gung-ho attacking maverick self I'm sure mate. Fergie will be the one to watch as to whether he goes 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 but expect nothing except 4-5-1 from city with '7 out of 10' Barry and De Jong sweeping up.

  • Comment number 19.

    On a more interesting note, has anyone noticed how vicious honey badgers can be?

  • Comment number 20.

    Mancini will come for the draw lol . till Kidd and Platt tell him you actually have to win this one Boss !

  • Comment number 21.

    You have to go all the way back to Westham for a diagonal counter rabbit.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    I find the timing for this blog strange, really to the point that I could say it is pointless of having it so early.

    After going through the fixtures of the two clubs until then, I saw that on the Monday prior to the weekend F.A. Cup semi final, City will have a very difficult game at Liverpool. They will have played already Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, while Spurs seem to have an easier run of games up to then. Furthermore, midweek, after the Liverpool match are the fixtures of Europa Cup quarter finals - assuming that City reach that stage in that competition. If City go past Dynamo Kiev, they will have to play Liverpool, a Europa Cup quarter final and the F.A. Cup semi final in a six days period. It's a lot of if's and but's however, by that time, they might be fighting for that fourth premiership spot.

    United, on the other hand, will have played Fulham at home on Saturday the 9th and, if they progress in the Champions League, they will have to play a Champions League semi final midweek, prior to the F.A. Cup semi final.

    That's why it's full of if's and but's. If both clubs progress in their european campaigns, both teams will view the F.A. Cup semi final as a match they wish they could avoid playing on that date.

    Coming to the actual fixture, now, United will be relatively fresher than City, so I expect SAF to send a team with all guns out to get one more past City. Mancini on the other hand might be seeing clouds in his City future and a win might count a lot towards his own future in Manchester, while premiership pressures will demand to keep players fresh for forthcoming premiership fixtures.

    Too early for this blog, really.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think that the hype that usually surrounds this fixture in recent times will possibly be somewhat muted as both teams have met so many times over the last two seasons. The derby means way more to City than United, as always, despite what City fans say, but having said all that, in the context of the FA Cup, it definitely qualifies as a "dream tie".

    I love the passion that these games generate although I could do without the insults and defamatory comments, although I'm sure that those fuel the intensity.

    It's just over a year ago when these same two teams met in the second leg of the League Cup semi final at Old Trafford in what was probably the best game of last season.

    We can hope for a repeat.

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com/?p=599

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    It will be a great match from a non-neutral standpoint. City are poor against a team that does little other than defend, but they should match United comfortably in this one and I see City nicking it as long as Howard Webb or any other Fergie crony is not the ref.

  • Comment number 27.

    What type of article is this? Nt a very good one can be the only answer.

    This has been a season of battling from United, ad yet City have played them aas if they are afraid of losing, and that avoiding defeat is THE most important thing.

    Prepare yourself for more of the same, with City hoping to take it to penalties and sneak through that way.

    The fact that you find it necessary to "talk up" City's unconvincing win over Reading says it all. Who have City beaten to get here? Liverpool, Arsenal ? Oh wait, that was United. Funny no mention of that.

    United to make the final, probably against Bolton.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ok, time for City to beat United, we have had enough excuses. Can Macini be positive for once.
    As for the blog, Phil your blogs have become knee-jerk reactions to football matches. Just yesterday you asked Wenger to rethink his philosophy just two weeks after saying that Wenger's boys had matured. I suggest you be writing these blogs before the matches!!
    Come on Gunners

  • Comment number 29.

    Mancini said they can topple United two years ago. Two years ago the CEO said WHEN not IF they reach Wembley. They still can but will they? They don't do well on big games.

  • Comment number 30.

    Already some sad characters on here doing little to dispel the view that certain clubs attract certain type of people, and they do nothing for the Save 606 cause. Is a club other than your own getting some attention so unbearable?

    Yesterday's win was a landmark, recognition of progress with the investment: a trip to Wembley, with the possibility of a quick return! It should also be a filip for the Dynamo, and, fingers crossed, Chelsea games, before the international break. Get something out of these games and City should be well placed in April, with the players, hopefully, refreshed, and James Miner and, more importantly, Adam Johnson due back. If City hadn't gone through yesterday, it would have piled the pressure on, staring with Thursday, and it might have become bleak for RM. Still a lot of work to do mind you, starting in 3 days, but a good start.

    Nigel de Jong was MOTM on his return yesterday. If he can stay on the pitch, I think he'll be a big player for us for the remainder of the season. Hopefully, the SF to look forward to will relax the players and instil belief for the league run-in, which ultimately is the priority. WU-HOOOOO!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Being rather disrespectful to Stoke and Bolton - sorry - I think it is unfortunate for the FA Cup that this fixture is not the final. It would have given the last game real 'event' status. Whoever emerges from the Manchester derby will be huge favourites for the final and, yes, there may be a shock in the final a la Birmingham v Arsenal, but I doubt it. A City/United final would have been a real fifty-fifty contest. As it is, I see Utd - who are rather good at this sort of thing - shading a close game with the Sky Blues then overwhelming whoever is at the other end in the final to secure a domestic double which - considering the weaknesses of this United team compared to previous incarnations - does not look that great for the vaunted English brand.

    I only hope they don't win the Champions League too.

  • Comment number 32.

    Typically poor ABU article.

    BTW ... United youth team came from 2-0 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 in the FAYC final.. . . . . . just as well, or we would have been subjected to articles about how Liverpool are the future of the BPL.

    City have shown their inability to beat United, and their fear of trying this season. Expect them to play for a boring draw and hope for penalty luck, but still lose.

    City can consider themselves lucky to make it this far .... if they had United's draw they would have been watching it on TV before the quarters already.

  • Comment number 33.

    if City win, you will be the happiest person in the world.

  • Comment number 34.

    City's away support is going to come dressed as empty seats.
    I think United fans (seeing as we are apparently all from London anyway) will have more fans in Wembley than City, which will make a big difference to the atmosphere.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hope bolton wins the whole thing and city puts one over on united. I am all for the underdogs, but would rather see bolton over stoke.

    Also would be great if both domestic cups were won by teams outside the top 4.

  • Comment number 36.

    what a joker mancini is!hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • Comment number 37.

    Dont know why hotdogsalesman made the ridiculous comment about the man utd youth side beating Liverpools side 3-2 in the quarter finals of the cup, what relevance does that bear??,
    Oh and just for the record Liverpool were walking that game 2-0 with a much more accomplished and talented side until a daft sending off completely changed the game, The future is bright at one or two prem clubs right now but i dont see Man utd having any big transfer funds either recently or in the near future.......it could be all change at the top table real soon........

  • Comment number 38.

    The whole "losing finalists in Europe" thing always was a stupid idea. It's perfectly possible for alosing finalist to have playe no team of any significance in the previous 5 rounds. I mean do Stoke really deserve to be in Europe afte beating the giants of Cardiff, Brighton, Wolves, West Ham and Bolton? Bolton at least have recent European finalists Fulham on their win sheet alongside York, Wigan, and Birmingham, but even so it's hardly a list that inspires much sense of a massive achievement.

    At least 6th/7th in the league has meant a team has had to show some consistent quality.

    Yes I know it's possible for the cup winners to have not played anyone decent either but at east they are the last team standing in that situation.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think the Man City experiment has failed to date under Mancini,and the wheels are coming off his wagon now, with a Europa League exit looking likely, and I can't see them beating Man U in the semi, even though Adam Johnson is apparently likely to be back.

    I think Mancini has learned the lesson now of just how important Adam Johnson was to his team, and his failure to value him enough when he was available, to back him 100% as he should have without all the needless and negative criticism, and build the attack around him, has been his downfall.

    Man City still looks like what it mostly is - a bunch of hired mercenaries with big egos, all come to get rich quick, but not really a team.

    I wonder really how the likes of Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee sitting in the stand yesterday, can feel much pride and sense of belonging, when they look out on this rapidly assembled crew, who probably don't have any real sense of allegiance to Man City as a club, including Tevez, who I'd also guess is going at the end of the season, probably for family reasons admittedly.

    Of course anything is possible in an FA Cup semi-final on neutral ground, and I would expect playing at Wembley to lift Adam Johnson's game if he is fit by then, so that's a serious concern for Man U.

    But I really hope Johnson does not save Mancini yet again, because I don't think Mancini deserves it, and I'm sure there'll still be another job waiting for him back in Italy, where his only real success as manager has been to date.

    I'd very much like to see Jose Mourinho come to Man City, to produce some sparkle and good feeling that I feel Mancini has failed to do with his cagey and negative tactics which have let him down in big games like against Kiev, as well as his arrogant, surly manner.

    He has admittedly mellowed in 2011 it seems, but too late, as the damage to team spirit was already done in the earlier stages, by quite a number of bad tactical and team selection, selling and purchase errors, as well as poor people skills, especially in relation to Adam Johnson.

    Buying Balotelli was an especially bad mistake, which hasn't paid dividends, and my guess is still that Balotelli will be gone to somewhere more exotic and trendy than Manchester by the start of next season.

    Mancini will walk away several million pounds richer no doubt, so I can't see how we should feel sorry for him, or that he'll have much to complain about, when you consider how badly other City managers before him were treated, such as Sven, and to a lesser extent Mark Hughes.

    Having said all that, and even though I'm guessing it will be Man U who go into the final, I think Sir Alex sets a bad example to his supporters with that kind of fighting talk you've quoted, calling Man City "a small club with a small mentality" which arguably inspires a lot of bad feeling between Man City and United fans, which might even lead to violence in cases.

    I think he should show more responsibility, and though rivalry is inevitable, football is only a game after all, and so we could do with the rivalry being more friendly rivalry, rather than fans getting so upset and heated about it you get the impression from reading the 606 site some times, they'd like to knock each others' heads off.

  • Comment number 40.

    Dont know why hotdogsalesman made the ridiculous comment about the man utd youth side beating Liverpools side 3-2 in the quarter finals of the cup, what relevance does that bear??,
    ---------------

    Because McNulty is known to jump at the slightest whiff of Liverpool returning to glory, that's why.

  • Comment number 41.

    Hopefully City beat Utd and Bolton beat Stoke. I can see Bolton turning over City in the Final.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the thing you have to remember is that whatever happens in this game, Manchester United will probably be turning their focus back to the Champions League and fighting for the PL title. City, on the other hand, will just be focussing on staying in the top four. Yes, City may well win, but one win in however many failed attempts in the Abu Dhabi era will not denote a hysterically-dubbed 'shift in power'. By the law of averages it has to happen eventually. United may well go on to have another string of wins over City. Teams don't 'progress' win by win. They progress season by season, and all the evidence that matters will point to a continued red dominance in Manchester no matter what happens in this result.

  • Comment number 43.

    RooneyToons

    Let's not forget that City have actually triumphed in 90 mins over United in the Abu Dhabi era - in the first leg of the league cup semi last season. So they have 'beaten' us, after a fashion.

    Let's hope that that remains the only one, at the end of this season!

  • Comment number 44.

    Interestingly Roberto Mancini's namesake, Henry, unlike Roberto, had a number of excellent scores. Henry Mancini wrote two in 1961 one of which coincidentally was Blue Moon. The other was The Theme of the Great Impostor. LOL

  • Comment number 45.

    I suspect a terrible game is on the cards. Mancini will go out to nulify the threat of Man Utd scoring. Man Utd will be typically resolute defending against City, and the wembley pitch as always will provide a turgid arena in which to play a game of this magnitude. Man City to win with a set piece goal in extra time.

  • Comment number 46.

    They should play this game at Stamford Bridge and the other one at Old Trafford. Wembley is crap

  • Comment number 47.

    tomefccam

    Extra time? In the replay?

  • Comment number 48.

    Mr Chelsea

    How's it going, fella?

    Yeh, I don't like the idea of semis at Wembley. But, there's money to be made.

    Personally, I'd like it to be at Villa 'United's second home' Park, but we can't have everything ;-)

  • Comment number 49.

    While I'm here. Can someone answer me this.

    Why are the nets of the goals at the City of Manchester stadium the same shade as the pitch? You cant even tell if the ball has got into the net or not. Paint them white :@

  • Comment number 50.

    First of all, it's great to be involved in this level of game...it's been far too long sice we were last at this level (i'm not really counting the Carling Cup as a major event!)
    I would have much prefered United in the final, but it is what it is. My main concern is how Mancini approaches the game. I sincerely hope he is more open than previous big tests. I do feel our best option is to open up more and, hopefuly, the return of Johnson will enable him to do this.
    I do fear for his future if we go there with a negative attitude and lose the game, not too sure City fans would accept this approach, let alone the rest of football.
    It would appear the FA Cup is our best hope for silverware and you can bet your bottom dollar that Ferguson will not field a team anything like the one Arsenal bottled it agianst (but thats another thread)
    Too close to call? probably, but I do hope we go there and play!!

  • Comment number 51.

    @ BogTrotter

    I agree that the Liverpool v United FAYC quarter final is if no relevance but your comment that the sending off changed the game is wrong. The Liverpool player was sent off for chopping Tunnicliffe down in the penalty are. Pogba took the penalty and paused during his run up and had his scored penalty disallowed and retaken. Pogba was booked for his penalty run up pause and as it was his second yellow, he had to go too. So both sides were down to ten men when the penalty was scored by another United player. Just thought you would like to know.
    Hope we will have a United v Bolton final........think Bolton play better football than Stoke.

  • Comment number 52.

    Kanchelskis

    Alright son, Going good. Now that Arsenal have completed phase 3 of their annual self destruction ;-)

    How on earth you managed to beat them with a midfield of John O'Shea and Gibson, I'll never know.

  • Comment number 53.

    Once again this blog is all speculation with no interesting analysis whatsoever.

    Ferguson said this.

    Mancini thinks this.

    City won their last game like this.

    This semi-final might go one way. Or the other way.

    Urgh.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil, are you going to mention the "noisy neighbours" quote every single time United and City play? There is nothing romantic about city's turnaround!

  • Comment number 56.

    53. At 09:27am on 14 Mar 2011, Hrbl wrote:

    Once again this blog is all speculation with no interesting analysis whatsoever.

    Ferguson said this.

    Mancini thinks this.

    City won their last game like this.

    This semi-final might go one way. Or the other way.

    Urgh.

    --------------------------------------------

    What do you expect from McNulty? Has he ever written a decent blog?

    Ha, the nickname Mc-Numpty has been banned by the profanity filter. Oh dear Phil, you really are insecure aren't you.

  • Comment number 57.

    Won't be rushing to watch this one after the previous games this season.

    Mancini will come into this 'chess' game not to lose and will set-up the ususal 4-5-1 that they have paid £300m to acquire. I really like some of their players but for all this City are just not an attractive team to watch.

    Extra-time will be required.

    But why do they need to go all the way to London? Can they not toss a coin and choose between their respective grounds and half the tickets?

    Interesting that the Old Firm derbies in Scotland this season have thrown up so much controversy, theatre and excitement, while the Manchester ones with the richest clubs in the world would just put you to sleep.

  • Comment number 58.

    42. At 09:03am on 14 Mar 2011, RooneyToons wrote:
    I think the thing you have to remember is that whatever happens in this game, Manchester United will probably be turning their focus back to the Champions League and fighting for the PL title. City, on the other hand, will just be focussing on staying in the top four.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    This has nothing to do with it. Man Utd have been in this sort of situation hundreds of times, so they know how to deal with playing big games. City, on the other hand, don't know. They may have talented players but experience can't be taught. I expect Man Utd to swat City aside a bit like they did to Arsenal.

  • Comment number 59.

    8. At 01:05am on 14 Mar 2011, BaldingTiger wrote:
    @7

    I think you're wrong, the runners-up in the domestic cup competitions no longer qualify for Europe if the winner has already qualified. The European places automatically go to the next team in the Premier League who has not qualified for Europe. As things stand that would be Liverpool.
    -------------------------------------
    The losing FA Cup Finalists do qualify which is how Everton got into Europe this season. Would love to see Rory Delap long throws in Europe.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hope Bolton do it, they are trying to play a certain style under Coyle and are light years away from the dross that was played under Allardyce.

    It would be a justification of his footballing philosophy if it paid off.

  • Comment number 61.

    to the guy guessing that most neutrals will be hoping that city make through. How on earth do you come to that conclusion? Neutrals by very definition have no preference as to who they would want to win. The correct term for what you refer to as Neutrals is "Anyone But United" or ABU's.

  • Comment number 62.

    59. At 09:34am on 14 Mar 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    8. At 01:05am on 14 Mar 2011, BaldingTiger wrote:
    @7

    I think you're wrong, the runners-up in the domestic cup competitions no longer qualify for Europe if the winner has already qualified. The European places automatically go to the next team in the Premier League who has not qualified for Europe. As things stand that would be Liverpool.
    -------------------------------------
    The losing FA Cup Finalists do qualify which is how Everton got into Europe this season. Would love to see Rory Delap long throws in Europe.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    No it wasn't, the FA Cup final was between Chelsea and Portsmouth last season. Also, Everton finished 5th in the season they got to the final, the Europa League position got put down one in the league to Fulham.

  • Comment number 63.

    #38 - the losing finalists in Europe is a big incentive for teams to take the FA Cup seriously. Only last week we were talking about how to keep the FA Cup interesting and you recommend taking away one of its key incentives.

    PersonallY I wish Phil had done a blog on how long it has been since Stoke & Bolton got to a semi-final and how they could use it to kick-on this season and how they would potentially fare in the Europa league

  • Comment number 64.

    PersonallY I wish Phil had done a blog on how long it has been since Stoke & Bolton got to a semi-final and how they could use it to kick-on this season and how they would potentially fare in the Europa league

    ------------------------------------------------

    They've done a blog on Stoke already. Bet this one gets to 100 comments first before that one does.

  • Comment number 65.

    Whether you like them or not City have a good squad so in reality its no big surprise they have reached an FA cup semi final and are sitting third in the league. As a United fan i still feel we have the beating of them not just because of recent results between both sides but because Mancini is so negative when it comes to big games, also on the day United will be able to deal with the pressure and occasion more professionally which is why i think it'll still be United who go through! On a side note, why the hell do semi finals now have to be played at Wembley? Utter pointless all four clubs involved will have to all travel 100 miles+ for the game, shouldn't it just be the final there as a reward. I feel having semi finals there dilutes the occasion of the final!?

  • Comment number 66.

    #62- so it was - you are correct. Pompey would have qualified for Europe had their financial situation not been dire though

  • Comment number 67.

    #64 - do you have the link?

  • Comment number 68.

    52. At 09:21am on 14 Mar 2011, Mr Chelsea wrote:
    Kanchelskis

    Alright son, Going good. Now that Arsenal have completed phase 3 of their annual self destruction ;-)

    How on earth you managed to beat them with a midfield of John O'Shea and Gibson, I'll never know.

    ------------------------------------

    It's because it included Rafael and Fabio :)

  • Comment number 69.

    PetShopBoys_Forever

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/chrisbevan/2011/03/pulis_deserves_plaudits_for_st.html

    Football_UK.

    Lol. O'Shea pulling the strings in midfield. He's like a Xavi in the making.

  • Comment number 70.

    City to win the FA Cup ? That's a joke !
    It was just another boring purgative perf against Reading.
    Talking loud and dreaming of silverware they are chasing for 35 years now... That's all.
    As they'll be out of EL this week, and lose at the Bridge next WE, they won't see Wembley twice this year...
    Poor noisy neighbours...

  • Comment number 71.

    It's because it included Rafael and Fabio

    ===

    They were the difference. Goes to show they've got a good football brain on them, they can be asked to play anywhere, and still only 20

  • Comment number 72.

    I think you're suffering from premature blogulation here Phil. Both teams have plenty to concern themselves with between now and the semi final itself.

    Anyway, when the time comes, might it be on ESPN only anyway and therefore many of us won't watch it, regardless of how much you try to hype it along the way?

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 69, Mr Chelsea,

    I would rather compare him to Iniesta ;) LOL

    I have to admit though that poor O'Shea is invaluable to United because when we need him, WE DO NEED HIM. Brown and O'Shea have been proven gold many a time.

  • Comment number 74.

    46. At 09:14am on 14 Mar 2011, Mr Chelsea wrote:

    They should play this game at Stamford Bridge and the other one at Old Trafford. Wembley is crap
    ________________________________________________

    3 Northern teams and a North Midlands side in the semi finals and they all have to travel to Wembley?Potty idea.Old Trafford and Elland Road should be the semi final venues.

    Obviously it's all to do with money (what isn't in football these days) But it makes as much sense as holding a Chelsea v Arsenal semi final at The Stadium of Light.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think what is more concerning is that people are automatically focusing on the Manchester derby and the winners of this game automatically winning the FA Cup final.

    Surely some respect to Bolton and Stoke needs to be given, they are certainly not going to the final in order to lose the game.

    I think the City machine has been creaking a bit in recent weeks, there is always talk about dressing room unrest (no smoke without fire), and Tevez seems to have gone off the boil a bit (i dont follow city games so am happy to be corrected if i am wrong). He is an essential cog in the wheel for them, and in order to maintain their challenge for 4th spot, they need him to rediscover his touch.

    United are in a bit of a quandary about this game as, under normal circumstances, i think they would rest players for the game, but there is NO way Fergie will want City to beat them in the semi final and potentially end their 35 year wait for some silverware. This could actually jeopardise United's own challenge for the League and Champions League as there will be no respite for the players until the end of the season.

  • Comment number 76.

    Football_UK

    That's it. You need these types of players in your squad. They'l never be world beaters but they'l do a job if asked to. They'd go and fill up the vending machines if Fergie asked them too lol.

    Blueburns

    ITV gets first pick of the semi finals. I doubt they'd let ESPN take the United/City game and keep the Stoke / Bolton game for themselves (no offence Stoke/Bolton fans)

  • Comment number 77.

    Paul Scholes best tackler ever! Discuss.

  • Comment number 78.

    Scholes v De Jong - battle to watch at the Wembley.

  • Comment number 79.

    In these economically tough times, it's a joke that semis are played at Wembley to try and recover the FA's idiotic debt, when all 4 semi-finalists are from the North-West (more or less). Old Trafford could have been hosting Bolton v Stoke, whilst Anfield or Hillsborough would have been ideal for United v City.

    Instead, 100,000 fans (cos the other 60,000 will be sponsors, clingers-on and FA jackets) will have to fork out an arm and a leg to go down to Wembley for the day, which in itself reduces the glamour of the prize of the final being at Wembley.

  • Comment number 80.

    #76 Mr Chelsea

    Blueburns

    ITV gets first pick of the semi finals. I doubt they'd let ESPN take the United/City game and keep the Stoke / Bolton game for themselves (no offence Stoke/Bolton fans)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    I fully expect Disney backed ESPN to put lots of money up the next time TV contracts are up for renewal otherwise they are likely to lose too much money the way Setanta did to their, uh, cost. That and Sky's territorial pricing being challenged at European level should, I say should, mean we get to see more football and overall cheaper in the future.

  • Comment number 81.

    #79 LostmekecksintheGmex

    In these economically tough times, it's a joke that semis are played at Wembley to try and recover the FA's idiotic debt, when all 4 semi-finalists are from the North-West (more or less). Old Trafford could have been hosting Bolton v Stoke, whilst Anfield or Hillsborough would have been ideal for United v City.

    Instead, 100,000 fans (cos the other 60,000 will be sponsors, clingers-on and FA jackets) will have to fork out an arm and a leg to go down to Wembley for the day, which in itself reduces the glamour of the prize of the final being at Wembley.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tough economic times are in the eye of the beholder. Fans of these teams could do as I think Blackburn fans did 4 or 5 years ago and not turn up (against Arsenal at the Millenium?) in protest.

    Also, what if Old Trafford was used. Does that put more money into Man U plc which increases the difference between have's and have not's, which is to the detriment of fans anyway. Maybe use Villa Park? Used to be quite sufficient.

    Agree about the 40,000 corporates though. That is quite poor form.

  • Comment number 82.

    SS11

    Paul Scholes best tackler ever! Discuss.

    Scholes v De Jong - battle to watch at the Wembley.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Scholes did see particularly, and unusually, ratty on Saturday. Even when his body was at it's peak, a yellow card was always a sort of fait accompli but you wouldn't have accused him of petulance with it, but that did seem to be the case this time.

    Frustration that his body is being over taken by whipper-snappers maybe?

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 75. At 10:07am on 14 Mar 2011, SirMouseburger,

    When the semi final comes, City will be desperate to go past premiership fixtures, successfully. They will have played Chelsea and Liverpool, both away and, if they lose those matches, in all probability, they will be staring at Spurs above them in 4th position. If they weren't participating in the F.A. Cup, that weekend they'd be playing Spurs in Manchester.

    Both teams will be tired because, if both progress in Europe, they'll be going to Wembley to play the 3rd match in a week - in City's case in 6 days.

    I bet the relevant blog prior to the match will be if any of the two teams wanted to play the fixture on that date.

  • Comment number 84.

    Very hard to call. If United progress in the Champions League then there'll be plenty of resting of players. If Chelsea/Spurs put together league form then Mancini will be under pressure to win league games.

    Bit frustrating from the United point of view that Everton bottled it against Reading and Villa fielded a reserve side at COMS as either at top strength would have given a jaded looking City more of a game and avoided perhaps the need for a direct 35 years play off game.

    At least the Wembley pitch is in good shape now, the potato field for the Everton v United semi in 2009 was one of the worst semi finals I can remember. Shame it can't be played at Villa Park though as United have a great record in semis there.

  • Comment number 85.

    39. At 08:42am on 14 Mar 2011, World Cup Wally wrote:
    I think the Man City experiment has failed to date under Mancini,and the wheels are coming off his wagon now, with a Europa League exit looking likely, and I can't see them beating Man U in the semi, even though Adam Johnson is apparently likely to be back.

    I think Mancini has learned the lesson now of just how important Adam Johnson was to his team, and his failure to value him enough when he was available, to back him 100% as he should have without all the needless and negative criticism, and build the attack around him, has been his downfall.

    Man City still looks like what it mostly is - a bunch of hired mercenaries with big egos, all come to get rich quick, but not really a team

    Welcome back Wally..... Whoever wins this tie will win the FA cup IMHO.I expect a cagey affair but (fingers crossed City win)

  • Comment number 86.

    #39 World Cup Wally

    Man City still looks like what it mostly is - a bunch of hired mercenaries with big egos, all come to get rich quick, but not really a team.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Even if that's true, they are still doing better each season.

    It's an odd argument that people (for reasons that aren't exactly good ones) say that you can't buy a team to try to put down what is going on at somewhere like Man City and then, when a team isn't formed, they say, well, by now, you should have bought a team!

    I believe Man City will finish in the top 4 this season, and then the 'project' moves on a level.

  • Comment number 87.

    "I believe Man City will finish in the top 4 this season, and then the 'project' moves on a level."

    Man City have as difficult remaining fixtures as Spurs do. In addition to that, they're under more pressure to not lose 4th spot on the 11th hour, like last season. Spurs beat City in Manchester last season, going to qualify for Champions League football. It's going to be an unpredictable run-in for both clubs.

    Also, Spurs are in much better spirit than City. They just went past A.C. Milan to qualify to move to the quarter finals of the Champions League. City lost to Dynamo Kiev and beat Reading with great difficulty. If the speculation about Tevez wanting to leave too is true, the spirit in the City dressing room will be rather gloomy those days.

    In my opinion, 9 matches before the end of the season, the 4th position of the premiership table is 50-50 between City and Spurs.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87 Football_UK

    Your reasoning is sound, but that wasn't really the point I was making and I would put it slightly more in favour of Man City than 50:50.

    My point was that even though they may not be a 'team', would you actually expect them to be a 'team' and even if they aren't a team, they are still just about improving. There may be plenty of changes required before things are settled but in the meantime, the are still getting better results.

  • Comment number 89.

    #64

    Are we at reply number 100 yet?

  • Comment number 90.

    Even if that's true, they are still doing better each season.

    ==

    They could potentially finish in 5th with no trophies to show for it, the same as last season.

  • Comment number 91.

    #90 Kapnag

    Even if that's true, they are still doing better each season.

    ==

    They could potentially finish in 5th with no trophies to show for it, the same as last season.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    They could. I just don't think they will. And my point to the detractor above was that if they did, they would have done so 'without' a team and therefore, so what.

  • Comment number 92.

    Its funny and it may be me, but there seems to be a lot more Untied fans on here than City.

    What is also hilarious is how stupid some of the comments are, for example the one about youth teams and how they will allow Untied to dominate in the future, Even though City won the Youth cup only a couple of years ago I would not expect them to dominate the Premiership, out of all the players currently playing youth football for Prem and Championship clubs, there is likely to be no more than 3 or 4 at the most that even make it to the first team.

    Or the statement about City are just a bunch of mercenaries. erm, and Untied players all play for nothing presumably, I am sure a certain Mr Rooney held the club to ransom a few months ago (now he is definately a great player that is a product of a succesful youth team (Evertons :) )

    What is true is that the game will be interesting rather than fantastic and all previous games mean absolutely nothing. I hope its us that win after all its a long way home if you loose a semi final, having said that a great number of Reds fans will probably be home win or lose about 30 mins after the game :) (ONLY KIDDING lol)

    Its awesome at the moment being a City fan, chance of 3rd in the Prem and still in two cups (even if one is only just)......... COME ON YOU BLUES.

    CTID

  • Comment number 93.

    47. At 09:14am on 14 Mar 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:
    tomefccam

    Extra time? In the replay?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What replay will this be exactly? The one that takes place on your planet, because anybody here on planet earth would know that the last time the Semi-Final replay system was in place was over 10 years ago.

    In fact, before your smart quip a bit of common sense might have even raised the internal question of "would the FA drag everybody back to Wembley in this day in age for a Semi-Final replay, or anywhere else for that matter?"

    I assume you're a Manchester United fan, so a trawl back through your memorial archives would have led you to the fact that Manchester United contested the last Semi-final replay to be played, against Arsenal in 1999. And didn't you also wonder how after 90 mins, extra time and no replay Manchester United were beaten by Everton on Penalties as far back as 2009?

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 Peterpad

    In your 'CITD' approach to your comment, I think you've probably missed the points.

    In terms of youth, I expect that Man U will bring through more players than Man City. History suggests this is true. Also, Man City did win the Youth FA Cup but in the pursuit of a quick fix (which is natural when you have those sort of funds at your disposal) they have done away with what may have been a great long term asset.

    Man U bring more through in part because of the continuity they have with Ferguson and the capital he has in being allowed to make mistakes.

    I draw parallels with Chelsea here. Chelsea have generally bought players rather than bring them up because each manager doesn't have long to get things right.

    Chelsea and Man City have had the resources to buy players that are better than the youth players (through no fault of their own) at any time.

    Chelsea are now trying to correct this side of the club.

    In my opinion, Man City would have been better keeping hold of some of their youth. Even if they weren't technically as good as some of the players you have bought, they bring much more to the party in terms of actually wanting to play for the club and giving it an identity.

    Chelsea have been fortunate in this respect in that we have had Lampard and Terry as the backbone of the team since pre-Abramovich and they have proved to be good enough to hold things together no matter who has come and gone on the pitch and with the managers.

    I've jumped around a bit here is replying to your comment, but I hope you can see what I'm getting at. Also, as a Chelsea fan, I've closely followed the path that Man City are now trying to tread (albeit from a different starting point) and I have no axe to grind with City or United.

  • Comment number 95.

    tomefccam

    Oh yeh, you're right. And very gracious with it, apparently.

  • Comment number 96.

    Man city should be expected to challenge for first spot, going to finals. They spent twice as much as SAF has done in his entire carreer net spend wise. Man city have the highest wage bill probably in world football. They will have massively underachieved if they do not win anything this season. If they don't finish 4th at least then it will be the same as being relegated when you are not expected to. Man utd have no ronaldo tevez and a weaker side then 2 years ago. Man city have spent 200m+ since we haven't had these players. Man city net spend in the last 3 years is 2.5 times more then saf has spent since the premierleague started.

    If man utd win it will show Man city as a small club with a small mentality.

  • Comment number 97.

    92. At 10:55am on 14 Mar 2011, Peterpad wrote:
    Its funny and it may be me, but there seems to be a lot more Untied fans on here than City.

    What is also hilarious is how stupid some of the comments are, for example the one about youth teams and how they will allow Untied to dominate in the future, Even though City won the Youth cup only a couple of years ago I would not expect them to dominate the Premiership, out of all the players currently playing youth football for Prem and Championship clubs, there is likely to be no more than 3 or 4 at the most that even make it to the first team.

    Or the statement about City are just a bunch of mercenaries. erm, and Untied players all play for nothing presumably, I am sure a certain Mr Rooney held the club to ransom a few months ago (now he is definately a great player that is a product of a succesful youth team (Evertons :) )

    What is true is that the game will be interesting rather than fantastic and all previous games mean absolutely nothing. I hope its us that win after all its a long way home if you loose a semi final, having said that a great number of Reds fans will probably be home win or lose about 30 mins after the game :) (ONLY KIDDING lol)

    Its awesome at the moment being a City fan, chance of 3rd in the Prem and still in two cups (even if one is only just)......... COME ON YOU BLUES.

    CTID

    ====================================================================

    I think the point is that all these big time players Man City have bought in the last year or so would not have even contemplated going to Man City before the Abu Dhabi brigade turned up with their Millions. Thats why they are mercenaries!

    However, your correct about Rooney. Think success has gone to his head!
    SAF needs to get rid come end of the season.

    Also, i wouldnt mind if Man City won something as their fans stayed pretty loyal when they were down in the lower leagues. Would Man Utd fans be so loyal.

  • Comment number 98.

    #96 hafijur

    You're really not comparing like with like are you.

    Man U built a top team back in the 90's when the scale of money was very different. Since then, they have done well in keeping themselves at the top of English football.

    Man City are coming from a much smaller starting position and the scale of much is much greater than it was.

    If Man U win, it will show they were the better team on the day, probably nothing more and nothing less.

    You have fallen into the journalist's trap of saying that every little move is definitive above and beyond what it actually is.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 88 Mr Blueburns,

    City have made steps since the era before Ericsson. However it could be argued that they haven't really made steps forward since the Hughes days there. To move forward quickly, you always have to spend. If you look at their acquisitions, though, you will notice a lot of cash spent on Robinho, Adebayor who are not playing for them anymore, with Adebayor likely to be out in the summer. They have made some really impressive acquisitions in David Silva and Yaya Toure, but Dzeko doesn't seem up to now to fit the bill for the hype surrounding him - look the instant impact made by Suarez at Liverpool and Luiz at Chelsea, for expensive acquisitions examples.

    Top that with Balotelli, a controversy prone Italian with short fuse, big mouth and self choosing on when he will play football and there you are: you have Balotelli telling you he's the best player in the world but allergic to some grass and you have Adam Johnson who's an excellent acquisition on the cheap and the escape goat whenever Mancini wants to look tough to the rest of the dressing room.

    I am not trying to speculate against City, here but, if Tevez wants to leave too indeed, this is not steps forward but steps backwards and forwards now and then. And this does not represent progress but one could easily argue it sums up ad hoc decisions made by people with cash and not clear ideas on how to make a big team.

    Don't you feel that, after spending so much, City should have a better quality squad than what they actually have right now?

  • Comment number 100.

    Wayne Rooney's "last minute winner" made it 3-1.

    If that 4-3 game had finished in anything other than a United win it would've been a total travesty - United could've had 10.

    The biggest question though, other than why is the blog this early and why is it so utterly predictable, is why the hell is the match going to be played at wembley? Quite fancied another Villa Park pitch invasion myself, but then I'm a traditionalist where football is concerned ;-}

 

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