Date: 22nd January 2010 at 8:50pm
Written by:

In our second exclusive link up, VMC meets’s Editor Luke Thornhill, the Assistant Sports Editor of ‘The National’ newspaper in Abu Dhabi to discuss all things MCFC v SUFC…

1. Since we last spoke, ahead of City’s 5-1 League Cup win last October, Scunthorpe have experienced something of a nosedive in league form slipping from mid table to the lower reaches of the Championship. There’s been a rally in recent weeks results wise including a draw with high flying Cardiff. What’s the mood at Glanford Park going into this week’s FA Cup clash with City?

I’m not sure a nosedive is a fair description, we’ve always known that it would be a struggle to stay up in the Championship and that we would go through some lean spells. We’ve got a small cushion to the bottom four now though, meaning we can relax a bit going into Sunday’s game. We’ve also had some good results, going to Derby and putting four past them to win was a highlight. We had done something similar at Crystal Palace earlier in the season, we seem to play well when there isn’t too much expectation on us.’

2. You’ve seen City at first hand this season. What was your impression of the resurgent club’s team? Is there anyone in particular you are wary of facing this weekend?

‘I have seen City first-hand, but not the match at your place. It was UAE v City in the friendly at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Have to say I was not impressed at all with the City performance that night: Stuart Taylor giving away the penalty was poor and Benjani put in one of the most anonymous performances I’ve ever seen from a professional player. That might be the kiss of death needed to ensure he scores against us, but you have to wonder what was happening with him not to create chances against a UAE side that did not include most of their senior players.’

3. Looking at high profile developments at Eastlands this past two months, what is your take on Mark Hughes’ departure and the arrival of Roberto Mancini? We know you are interviewing The Iron manager Nigel Adkins ahead of this weekends game and it would be interesting to know how a gaffer in the modern era perceives the heat of being a Premier League manager.

‘I was due to speak to Nigel the day I’m answering these questions (Friday) to preview the match for our paper, but as I write this the club are still trying to sort out a slot so afraid I can’t give you too much insight on his views.

‘I felt sorry for Hughes, the first matches under Mancini were ones I think you would probably have won under Hughes. But your owners told our newspaper that they were unhappy with his coaching staff, perhaps he would have been given longer had he been willing to replace some members of his backroom.

‘Mancini is a good manager with experience of top players, I’m interested to see how he deals with Robinho. When City were over here one of Robinho’s commercial advisors briefed us he wanted to go to Barcelona, our reporter literally went into the next room to speak to Garry Cook who simply said he is going nowhere and Robinho has too many people looking after him.’

4. It now seems unlikely City will give a debut to France captain Patrick Vieira on Sunday, even though ‘Mancio’ is sure to rest a number of players ahead of Wednesday night’s League Cup semi final decider with the rags. But Vieira will travel with the squad. Can the big man and the City squad be assured of a warm Lincolnshire welcome?

‘I’ve seen quotes from Mancini suggesting Vieira is not yet fit enough. It will probably be a full house and hopefully an intimidating atmosphere for your players. However, if you score early our supporters would go quiet and it would probably be a stroll in the park. So long as we don’t concede in the first 20 minutes we’ll put in a good performance.’

5. From the Scunthorpe side, who are you expecting to take the game to City? Many Blues were impressed with the Iron’s play and approach in the League Cup despite the final score.

‘Gary Hooper is our top scorer and always a danger, my favourite two players are Paul Hayes and Martyn Woolford. Hayes is a massive grafter, while Woolford is a flair winger. For our last game we kept no.2 goalkeeper Josh Lillis in net instead of Joe Murphy.

‘Josh is the son of Mark Lillis, who is a former Iron striker and assistant and also played for you guys.’

6. Where’s the best place for a pint and a balti pie before and after the match?

‘Away supporters are welcome in the Old Farmhouse, which is right outside the stadium and you cannot miss it. There are some fast food outlets around the area too.

‘If you head into town at all then try out the Honest Lawyer on Oswald Road, which is where many Iron supporters (not the ones who have any interest in brawling) go post match and away supporters are welcome.’

7. And so to Sunday’s result. Your match prediction?

‘2-1 to the Iron!’

Luke Thornhill is editor of and assistant sports editor of The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi.

Very many thanks to Luke and the team at for this superb interview.

VMC Link:

VMC link: The National, Abu Dhabi

Follow the game live on Sunday in The VMC Forums’ popular Match Day Thread:
MATCHDAY THREAD: Sc├╝nthorpe vs Man City – FA Cup 4th Round – Sun Jan 24th – KO 4pm UK Time

VMC Seven Deadly Sinners 2009-2010:

Blackburn Rovers: Mikey D
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Akela
Portsmouth: pompeyrug
Arsenal: Paul Mustchin
Manchester united: Nobby Allcock
West Ham: Rossy
Aston Villa: The Fear
Wigan Athetic: Worbo
Fulham: Andrew Joyce
Scunthorpe: Luke Thornhill
Burnley: Turfmanphil
Liverpool: Chubby Alonso
Hull City: Matt Wilson
Chelsea: Merlin
Bolton Wanderers: Richard McC
Tottenham Hotspur: OxfordSpur
Sunderland: Gaz Johnson
Stoke: Chris Baldwin
Middlesbrough: Steve Goldby
Man united: Eric Whiteside
Scunthorpe: Luke Thornhill

VMC Desert Island Shinpads Castaways 2010:

Blackburn: Mikey D
Everton: Everton Mike


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