VMC and City legend Gary Owen exclusively link up to preview The Blues’ biggest game in many years. This is The Big One…
‘As I’ve been saying for weeks, if we win our last three games it doesn’t matter what anybody else does. We have now knocked Villa out of the equation and the Tottenham game was always going to be the decider.
‘This is the biggest game that we have had since 1968 when City went to Newcastle to win and become Champions, and I’ll tell you why: That result didn’t just win us that title, it also put us into the European Cup. When I played in the 1976-77 team, we finished second to Liverpool by one point, but only the top team went into the European Cup. Now of course, it is the top four that reaches what has become a midweek European super league and we have to get there.
‘It’s not just for the money because that is not a worry at Manchester City anymore, although for a major football club in this era to stand on it’s own two feet as a profitable business, then it has to play in The Champions League. Not only does it attract the best players, but it attracts the best sponsors and incredible interest in your club worldwide. The scope for all businesses associated with your club and your team is phenomenal.
‘City would be confirmed as being ahead of the owners schedule by qualifying because the owners invested more. As a result, expectations have increased while timescales have lessened. We’ve brought players in that can get us where we want to be quicker and hopefully, we will gatecrash the top four. You cannot do that without investing.’
‘We need our fans to be the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth man. Our supporters have been fantastic and we need them to get behind the team from the first minute to the last. This is like a cup final for us. We wanted one and now we’ve got one.
‘We have good confidence after beating Aston Villa and now we must focus and concentrate on getting the same result against Tottenham. They are a good side and it should be an exciting game.’
Sir Harold Redknapp:
‘City have been dangerous. They have good players. They are always going to be a threat with a forward line of Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor. That is a real potent forward line, but we have good forwards too and can cause them problems, hopefully.
‘This lot are the quietest lot of lads you’ve ever seen. It takes a lot to get them excited. They are very laid back and quiet. You’ve never met a quieter bunch. They’re not going to be getting too excited about it all. We’ve closed the gap on all the top teams, I think. But we still have a way to go. We won’t get too carried away. I wouldn’t swap any of my players for any of theirs!’
‘It’s always exciting to play against Tottenham but the focus will be on the three points. We are really close, we are getting there and I really believe with the help we have from the fans we can do it against Spurs. The last two games can decide the whole season, so we’ve been working really hard and it would be a fantastic achievement for everyone at the club to play Champions League football.
‘Mancini knows what he wants from his team. He may look quite nice but he is determined. He has his own character and he can be tough as well. He is a winner. He came to Manchester City because he knew he could take the club and the team really far.’
Nigel De Jong:
‘Everyone seems to have something to say about the manager and about Manchester City. We have had to put up with that all season but it makes no difference to us; the confidence is still there in the team and the atmosphere is still good. We have a lot of experience in our squad, people who have played for club and country in high pressure situations. We are ready for the challenge.’
‘It’s a big game, probably the biggest club game I’ve played because the Champions League is at stake. We’ve played City three times since I’ve been here and won all three matches, including 3-0 here earlier in the season. It is such a big game and I’m sure it will be a joy to play in it. We have a great team with so many quality players and I’m sure we can go there and do well again.’
‘I don’t want to be a hero, I just want to do a job for the club. That’s why I came here, I want the team to be the heroes and then we can celebrate at the end of the season.’
‘It is great that the manager has such faith in wide players. I won the penalty against Villa and thankfully set up the second and Craig and Shaun combined for the third. Wingers are an important weapon in most top side’s attacks. Look at the impact Shaun had when he came on against tired legs against Villa. He was too much for them to handle. His arrival put the game out of reach. I know there is a tradition of wingers here at City stretching back many, many years. I think the fans like watching players running at each other with the ball.’
‘All my mum’s side of the family are City fans. I remember going to Maine Road when I was a kid at Christmas. I have a long memory of Man City and my mum’s family won’t know which side to support! She’s a big City fan so it will be difficult, but I’m at Tottenham now. I’m just hoping that if we qualify it will be even more sweet knowing that they are there.’
‘It does not matter to me if people talk about Real Madrid or any other big team in Europe. I am used to rumours and I will not allow them to distract me. My mind is only on my job at City and winning the games we have left.’
VMC City Video Link: Mancio Spurs Press Conference
Manchester City Team News:
10h00 BST Update:
Following a hamstring strain, Gareth Barry has trained again and is a possible contender for Patrick Vieira’s starting berth. Otherwise City will be unchanged.
Joleon Lescott, Shay Given, Michael Johnson and the soon to depart Martin Petrov remain out for the rest of the season.
Player to watch: Tévez and Co
‘We are going to have to be better than them man for man. We’ve got equally as good players as Spurs. As Shauny showed when he came on against Villa with that run that beat two players and set up Craig, you would have difficulty picking out one to watch in our team.
‘There are so many players that are vital and so many players that can change the game for us. City and Tottenham are equally matched. We cannot have anybody out there who is not firing on all cylinders.’
Tottenham Hotspur Team News:
10h00 BST Update:
Spurs will give late fitness tests to Ledley King and Heurelho Gomes.
Sebastien Bassong and Ben Alnwick wait in the wings.
Peter Crouch is likely to start with Jermain Defoe possibly benched.
Corluka, Kranjcar, Cudicini and Woodgate are all out.
Player to watch: Modric and Co
‘Spurs have got so many talented players. Luka Modric is an absolutely great player. Gareth Bale is now realizing the potential he had. He’s a fantastic left sided player, probably one of the best left sided players in the Premier League at this moment. He gets forward, he’s always likely to score or create something and his pace is devastating.
‘Then you have the height of Peter Crouch with Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermaine Defoe up front. Tom Huddlestone for me is a fantatstic midfield player. He can pass, score and shoot with both feet. I could go on. To pick out one, you’d be missing out another six or seven.
Match Facts & Stats
City’s 10 Game Mini Season Results So Far, (starting with Fulham away):
P: 8, W:5, L:2, D:1, F:19, A:7, Pts:17 out of 24, GD:+12
Both Sides Top Scorers (all competitions):
Tévez:29, Adebayor:14, Defoe:24, Crouch:12
El Apache has now scored a phenomenal 29 goals in 36 City starts.
Head To Head City v Spurs:
League: City Wins: 45, Draws:30, Spurs Wins:46
All Competitions: City Wins: 50, Draws:33, Spurs Wins:55
Race Four Fourth Standings:
Spurs P:36, W:20, D:7, L:9, GD:+27 GS:64 Pts:67
City P:36, W:18, D:12, L:6, GD:+29 GS:72 Pts:66
The Citizens have lost only 6 league fixtures this season. If they do not lose either of the remaining fixtures, this will be an all time record in the top flight history of the club.
The Lilywhites have won 8 of their 10 last league games. They have found the net in all of those 10 games.
Since Christmas, Spurs have only won 2 league games away from home. At Stoke and Wigan.
Follow the action and debate live on Wednesday via the popular VMC Live Match Thread in the VMC Forums:
City v Spurs – Wed 5th May – KO 8pm – Match Day Thread
The VMC YouTwitFace Video Of The Week: How To Beat Spurs 1977 style with Gary Owen & Company!
Steve Bennett from Kent –
Having been unable to take charge of the recent Manchester derby due to Volcanic Ash, Mr. Bennett arrives in town for The Big One…Yellow card centurion Bennett has gone card berserk at times this season and many rival fans will be decidedly uneasy knowing he is at the controls for such a vital game…He takes command of only his second City game of this season having overseen our FA Cup exit at Stoke, sending off Adebayor farcically in the process. He has reffed Spurs on 2 occasions, in the draw at Fulham and in the home win over Everton…On the plus side for City fans and on the shudder side for Spurs fans, Bennett is a reknowned ‘Homer.’ 19 of his fixtures this season have ended in home wins with only 7 away wins…Get this – In a 14 game CONSECUTIVE burst between 15th December and 19th March during which he oversaw 10 straight home wins, the record reads: Home wins:12, Draws:2, Goals Home:34, Goals Away:2…What’s all that about then? Current season record: Games:32, Yellow Cards:118 Red Cards:6…Gary’s View:
‘He’s not my favourite referee. He knows the rules, but he doesn’t know the game or how it is played.’
‘The first part of the trilogy is out of the way. Now we have to turn over Tottenham then go to West Ham to win or draw. Should we reach the Champions League, what a season this would have proved to be, but a lot can happen in 180 minutes!…Big name players have been brought to City not just because of their ability, but because of their know-how. Tévez and Vieira have won titles, Toure and Adebayor have played across major competitions. The internationals we have are there to get us on to the big stage…Having said that, I believe that Tottenham don’t quite have that level of experience. But it’s not about what they do, it’s what we do that is most important. We cannot get away from the fact that we need to beat them. If we do, in my opinion, it’s over…But Tottenham are too good a side for us to just throw caution to the wind against. We cannot play without caution, yet like in a boxing match we have to be the aggressor, set the pace and dictate the game from the beginning…That way we’ll get the crowd going. The City crowd will be as important as the players on Wednesday night. We’ve seen how noisy the City Of Manchester Stadium can be. Having played the game, I know how much players get a lift with that sort of atmosphere and support. It puts a spring in your step and gives you more energy. That support is a very important part of football, especially at home and we are going to need the supporters on Wednesday as much as we have ever needed them… No doubt that whatever we need to do at West Ham, we will have as many tickets as possible in Blue hands…but Wednesday night against Spurs will be like a derby game. Man for man it will come down to who wants it most. In all areas we have got to play better than our opposite number. If we do that, we’ll win the game. The two sides are so evenly matched. What Harry’s done at Spurs is miraculous, but we’ve got home advantage. It’s up to us. It’s still in our hands.’
A: West Ham, Sun 09 May 15h00 GMT