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Cometh The Hour Cometh The Men

Tonight is the night that City can prove to themselves, their rivals and their fans that they are the real deal and press home the first of their two game advantage over Spurs and Liverpool.

Victory will mean several things, the most important being we will be in the top four of the Premier League for the first time in many months.

To our main rivals Liverpool, Spurs and Villa it will be a psychological victory as we stand above them with a clear advantage and home games against all of them.

If we can win both game sit will put us closer to third place and Arsenal than the other three and perhaps change our whole psychology for the end of season battle.

To our owners it is another yardstick in 'the project', a target achieved and one that must then be maintained from that point until the end of the season.

Most importantly though, it will send out a message to the fans clear and loud that we are the new City and not that 'typical' everyday one that everyone loves to condescend.

Time and time again, the team has proved in recent seasons that it has none of the true qualities required of a team looking to cement itself in the upper echelons of European football.

Qualities such as a never-say-die attitude, a pathological desire to win and the ability to travel to deepest darkest Mordor on a cold February night to defeat the enemy in their own back yard.

Fans have been treated to a myriad of disappointment over the years, with early seasons full of promise only to see their beloved Blues fail at the business end of the season.

Under Sven-Goran Eriksson City bluffed their way through the first half of the season promising much and reaching the top of the Premier League at one point.

Post Christmas however saw business resumed as usual with an away record shouting relegation form and Sven's one-dimensional tactic found out. Fans needed a back up plan- alas there was none.

Enter Mark Hughes and another era of empty promises followed. The new and honour-bound owners were praised for their public backing of the manager and the time he would be given. City were showing signs of stability.

Early season was no walk in the park though as the new high profile City were scrutinised at every corner and results were not coming as quickly as first thought.

It was at this time Hughes' back up plan or 'blame culture' came into effect as the players brought in by former managers were blamed for the team's inadequacies and the famous 'my teams play after Christmas' line was played like a stuck record.

To be fair the team did improve, but a quarter final home win against Hamburg was the highlight when the team played magnificently in front of packed house.

Yet that magical night at Eastlands masked the true City as yet again we had lost a key game and everyone knew that the first leg capitulation was what really counted in our UEFA Cup exit.

This season another early season sprint saw City right up there and Adebayor banging the goals in for fun until his mindless actions against Arsenal saw him suspended and out of the team.

A series of draws saw the Blues lose ground on the top three and after a key loss against Spurs cracks were beginning to appear. Hughes needed a back up plan, but he had already played his card the season before and unfortunately for him Garry Cook and Brian Marwood had their own in Roberto Mancini.

After a brief honeymoon period Mancini has some serious obstacles to overcome and prove he is the man to take the Sky Blues to the promised land.

With every loss those charming stammering Italian attempts to articulate will become annoying pauses of eternity a la Scholari as patience wears thin. The inability to understand the question will not be seen as a minor hindrance but a major flaw in communication to the first team.

Some might say that a Semi-final appearance is a major step forward in our progression and another yardstick to measure our success, others will point out that we threw away a fist leg lead and capitulated in the last half hour of the most important game for thirty years.

Amidst his recent Mediterranean mumblings one thing stuck out amongst the usual incoherence and that is that Roberto actually thinks we are playing good football and very well for that matter.

Now I am a fan of Mancini and the resoluteness he has brought to our sacred club, but can he really believe that we played well against Pompey, Bolton and Stoke?

Liverpool's Rafa Benitez would have you believe City's clash against Stoke to be irrelevant in the chase for that all important fourth spot and he may be right.

For it is tonight at Stoke that the real test begins on a cold February night in the Potteries against Stoke's Rugby XI hard, physical and determined to get to their forty point target of safety.

One things for sure, if we can pull out a win against these lot, the games against Liverpool, Spurs and Co will look a thousand times less daunting to both the fans and the players.

Whichever team is chosen, it will need to be at one hundred percent and the defence focused from the offset right until the final whistle.

Viera, Toure and Adebayor will need to perform for us to have any chance of winning and I hope they are ready to sound battle cry and wear the shirt with pride tonight.

If they do Mancini can look forward to some key but winnable home games against the likes of Liverpool, Spurs and the Rags and a damage limitation plan for the campaign against Chelsea.

So boys cometh the hour, cometh the men please and a couple of goals wouldn't go a miss either.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: GloucBlade Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday February 16 2010

Time: 10:51AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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16/02/2010 10:57:00

A good report Lando, informative as usual mate.
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16/02/2010 10:59:00

Only just realised u r away! You have'nt got a chance!
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16/02/2010 11:10:00

A win tonight would mean so much more than a 'mere' three points - it would take us into fourth, still with agame in hand, and as you said, would take us further away from those teams that want that spot, and know that they still have to come to CoMS. The players have to realise this and grab it by the scruff of the neck, and prove to themselves and all around them that we are up to this.
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16/02/2010 11:18:00

Superspuds just like you lot won't have a chance when you come to the City of Manchester Stadium, now off you pop, there's a good chap, and top article there Lando
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 11:26:00

Excellent article, Landers. A win there would give us a tremendous boost heading into three extremely tough league fixtures. Much is being made of Stoke's hostile atmosphere. Well we've won at Pompey and Wolves this season. Both grounds with the accent on hostile.
Johnny Baguette
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16/02/2010 11:51:00

Top stuff lando, really mell written
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16/02/2010 12:17:00

Superspuds unfortunately speaks the truth unless we really stand up and be counted tonight. If we do as I mentioned, the gloves are well and truly off until the rest of the season. When was the last time you could say the Prem had so many key games coming up. Its riveting stuff.
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16/02/2010 12:29:00

Spot on, Lando.
Johnny Baguette
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16/02/2010 12:37:00

Good article. It's a rollercoaster ride this season, and no doubt there will be an epic finale - away to Stoke will be interesting to see how the "new" city cope. By rights you should hammer them, but it's been a strange old season this contrast, what would happen should you finish out of the top 4? Do you think Mancini should then be sacked for failing to live up to the clubs ambitions?
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 13:31:00

superspuds, With respect, We have every chance of sustaining fourth once we get it, Are you undefeated at home?
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 14:28:00

Gunnerman If we finish outside of the top four without putting up a good show then there will be a revolving door outside Eastlands this summer. If on the otherhand we are beaten genuinely by the better team after giving everything and playing well then it won't be the end of the world.
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16/02/2010 14:34:00

As to whether Mancini should get the sack all depends on the first and second factors mentioned above. Its how he can get them to perform and how well we do in the FA Cup as well. At least a win against Stoke and then a good show at Chelsea would be the very worst on that front for Mancini. Do you think we have what it takes to claim 4th or even 3rd?
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16/02/2010 14:36:00

Lando78 I and i'm sure every other City supporter thinks we have what it takes, However we can't keep the revolving door open regarding managers at coms, The players have to stand up now and be counted and earn the vast saleries.
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16/02/2010 14:58:00

I think you definitely have the potential for 4th, not sure about 3rd as we have a fantastic run in - easier (on paper at least..) than anyone else in the top 6. I think you have better depth than Villa, spurs and even the scouse.

I'm not sure I agree regarding your performances, IMO, your top brass have made very clear their objectives for this year, and I think failing to achieve the CL will have serious implications for Mancini and a percentage of your players. Of course, if you do finish 4th (or even 3rd as you surmise) then this is academic.

What is certain is that Mancini is a good manager, and I think a bit of long termism from the owners with regard to management structure and playing staff is in order for City to become the success that their potential no doubt merits.
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16/02/2010 15:44:00

Gunnerman talks sense. We are currently in the doldrums because the novelty of Mancini's arrival has worn off and the team are now struggling to adapt to the new tactics he is trying to impose. We've also not been helped by injuries forcing us to change defensive personnel virtually every game. What is evident is that Mancini is a very good manager and with the benefit of a full pre-season and a few of his own choices purchased in the summer he will make us into a regular top-4 contender. Sacking Mancini after only half a season would not only be counterproductive, it would be downright stupid whether we crack the top 4 or not. We have the means to do it, but do our players have the will?
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 18:18:00

Good points Gunner and 5th and in just over an hour ... erm cometh the men ... or something like that anyway! C'mon City its time to get real and start walking the walk.
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 18:26:00

Did they step up yes but until we scored I was questioning Mancini's substitutions. Viera makes Hamman look like Ben Johnson! A points a point though and we are in the top four. Game on!
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 21:53:00

Sorry - but where was this win you lot were clamouring you were gonna get??
Report Abuse
16/02/2010 22:10:00

Niteworlok - What are you talking about?
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 00:28:00

Lando mate, I wouldn't bother humouring that numpty, he clearly doesn't know his arse from his elbow.
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 09:29:00

LMFAO! Great psychological boost there guys...A most important message that u are still the old city... Bring back Markie boy!
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 10:16:00

I have a feeling mix26 is a yid, but couldn't be sure. he's been on vitalvilla a couple times talking the usual nonsense. sort of nice to see Barry score a goal like that, but much nicer to see the result. we are still in it! gonna be a cracking campaign!
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 10:31:00

well done benji i am a yid... another BORING BORING VILLA post...
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 10:55:00

Mix, please remind me, how did Spuds do against Stoke this season?
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 11:50:00

not well but at least we did not get outplayed by a 10 men stoke...
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 13:31:00

niteworlok Without Shrek you'd be nowt. Now go back to the darkside you tube.
Report Abuse
17/02/2010 14:25:00


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