Date:Tuesday December 1 2009
Let's not play down the significance of tomorrow night's Carling Cup clash with Arsenal, for there is more than team morale and the boss's job under scrutiny.
Whilst some teams treat this competition as a hindrance to their Champion's League aspirations and others as a grooming ground for their up and coming young studs, City have made it public knowledge that they are taking it as serious as any other silverware this year.
Of course, critics will be quick to focus on the fact that we are playing against a young Arsenal side full of promise but not exactly first eleven standard.
But past history tells us that nothing could be further from the truth as Arsenal's youngsters have shown time and time again that they are no push overs. Each young Gunner knows full well this is the place to showcase his talents and make a claim for that all important first team spot.
Media hacks and fans alike have devalued the competition for years and point to other Premier League clubs' team sheets as to how seriously teams are taking the competition.
Perhaps the fact that seven of the last eight teams still left in the competition are from the top division might change their mind, and shows that it will be an achievement to get that all important ticket to Wembley come final day.
All at City know that results sooner rather than later will be the benchmark for their success or failure this season and of the three potential prizes on offer, getting to the Carling Cup final is undoubtedly the easiest option on paper.
The Blues don't even have to win the competition for it to be considered an improvement on over a decade of failure, which is something Hughes will be acutely aware of (which is why he mentioned it twice in his pre-match press conference today!).
In fact when was the last time you can remember the Blues playing in a Semi Final of a major competition and no the MCFC Girls under fourteens victory in the Tesco Cup last May doesn't count (No disrespect intended ladies)!
The last time City managed a Semi Final appearance was in 1981 against an impressive Ipswich Town side, when star man Paul Power scored a fantastic left footer in extra time and we went on to play Spurs in a sensational final (for them!).
If we do win tomorrow, nothing will be able to describe the elation that will be felt at all levels of the club from the fans up to the gaffer himself, as a win will break this demoralising Ground Hog Day we find ourselves in.
So let's put things into perspective, tomorrow is massive for all stakeholders involved with God's own club and if we do progress to the Semi Finals, well it will be the furthest the Blues have managed for almost thirty years.
That's got to be worth some brownie points, hasn't it! On the other hand, if we fail to make the Semis there might be a fair few people growing tired of hearing 'invariably' and 'gelling' and there couldn't be a more difficult game than the one coming up after that.
Date:Tuesday December 1 2009
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