The Battle Of The Swamp. Last time around: Fear stricken officials, ratboys in black, a manager shrieking at female City officials and touchline fan goading from substitutes. Prepare for more of the same…
‘We don’t want to go to Old Trafford only to defend. It is possible we will have to defend if United attack. Then we will need to defend very well because they have so many good players. But we want to win, not just the tie, but at Old Trafford. To do that we must attack.’
‘We have big-game know-how. That’s why I picked the team I did for the first leg. Finals are always important to us. We showed last week we want to be in the final. It’s a semi-final and it’s a local derby. That’s important enough as an incentive. At Old Trafford there have been so many big-game situations in the late stages of tournaments. We hope that experience helps.’
‘I feel I’ve shown I’m at the right club now. Everyone knows how important the fans are at this club and, if I make them happy, it’s an honour. I think the United fans know I tried hard. City is my club now, a place where I feel part of everything. Maybe this wasn’t always the way at United.’
‘The game against City will be very hard, but it’s great that we have someone like Wayne who is in good form and feeling confident. I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic atmosphere against City and I’d love to be involved. Hopefully we can get the win.’
‘It’s probably as big a game as we’ve played in, an absolutely massive game and one that won’t be forgotten for a long time. We need to make sure that at the end it’s in our favour. It’s the first time in a long time there’s been so much pressure on United to beat us. But if you start thinking of defending at Old Trafford, it usually leads to bad things happening. We have to attack. If we score the first goal then it puts a lot more pressure on them. And if the game gets stretched later on, there are players on our side who will relish it.’
‘There’s always speculation, and when other big teams are talking about you, it’s nice that you’re talked about. But as I’ve said many times before, I’m a United player and I’m very happy here. I hope we can win the title again this year.’
VMC City Video Link: Mancio Press Conference
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Manchester united Team News:
Unlike City, the rags did not have the luxury of resting senior players at the weekend with a league fixture against hapless Hull.
Rio Ferdinand made his return against Hull after a lengthy injury absence and could figure here alongside the rest of the rag old guard, Van Der Sar, Giggs and Scholes who will all play a part. Ferdinand’s upcoming violent conduct ban for striking Craig Fagan off the ball in the same game will not begin until next weekend.
The chief problem Taggart has is a daunting trip to The Arsenal on the weekend horizon. The league title defence is now crucial to the rags season. His team selection will be the big talking point pre kick off.
Hargreaves, Foster, Vidic and O’Shea are all knacked.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Stop this fella and you stop Manchester united. It’s as simple as that. There is no margin for error and The Blues must man mark him, close him down and frustrate him into dissent and bookings. Fail to contain him and City will not win the tie.
Manchester CITY Team News:
City go into this cauldron of a decider with the majority of senior players rested. Given, Barry, Tevez, Garrido and Wright-Phillips took no part in the win at Scunthorpe and Bellamy was given the briefest of run outs.
Yet the Blues are to be bolstered by the return of captain Kolo Toure and striker Emmanuel Adebayor with the latter likely to start from the bench.
Patrick Vieira will make his City debut against Pompey on Sunday and remains held back.
Meanwhile, Johnson, Lescott, Bridge and Santa Cruz remain on the treatment table.
Player to watch: Stephen Ireland
Ireland came through the FA Cup win at Scunthorpe unscathed and Mancio is likely to turn to the Irish Superman and ask him to create the goals that would almost certainly see The Blues through.
A worrying gap emerged between City’s deep lying midfield and strikers at Eastlands in the first leg and the missing link could well be Ireland’s defence unlocking boots.
Match Facts & Stats
City’s last major semi-final was in the 1981 FA Cup campaign against Ipswich.
In 1976 City stuffed the rags 4-0 on the way to the League Cup final. The Citizens also beat them 4-3 on aggregate in the 1970 semi-final.
The rags have only beaten City once in the League Cup in 1974.
The rags have won 5 of their last 10 fixtures.
You can follow the game live in our popular Live Match Thread in the VMC Match Day Forum:
MATCHDAY THREAD: Trafford Red Sox vs Man City – 2nd Semi – Wed January 27th – KO:8pm UK Time
Those Magical “ManU” Fans:
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VMC Forum All Time Classic:
The VMC Comic Strip Presents – The Rise & Fall Of Raginald Taggart
H. Webb, South Yorkshire
Going to stick my neck out here and state that this bloke is just about the best ref in the country and he is going to need all his strength and resilience at the swamp. We need a strong official and no side get’s it there with Taggart chewing washing machine style on the touchline. Refs are paralysed with fear under his gaze and Mr. Webb has to stay focused and must brief his colleagues accordingly. Webb has reffed The Citizens twice this season, our win at Pompey last August and the superb win over Chelsea. This will be his 4th involvement with the rags having presided over their 3-0 drubbing at Fulham. Current Season Record:Games:20, Yellow Cards:73, Red Cards:4
There is something intrinsically, inherently arrogant and smug about Manchester united and all who sail in her. As liddle ciddy have strengthened to the point where we are suddenly an accepted threat, an edge of fear, uncertainty and anger has developed amongst them to the extent where we have seen plots lost from press conference to stands. If anything, a cup competition for so long belittled by ‘ManU’ has been self developed into their last stand with a manager forced to field his strongest side to appease supporters frustrated by being no longer guaranteed to win every game. Their debt engulfed, financially chaotic club is forced to rely upon old stagers whilst being financially unable to recruit new players of the highest quality. Ahead of what will be a priority league appointment in the eyes of players and management at Arsenal, a hungry Manchester City backed by 9,000 plus supporters is the last thing they need. In truth, even with Wayne Rooney who repeatedly takes on teams by himself, the rags are not guaranteed to win either fixture. City’s senior players will be reinforced, rested and must be confident of scoring the goals that will take us to Wembley. I expect them to do just that. It’s too close to call but I sense we will match them stride for stride if we want it more. Whatever happens, we can content ourselves in the knowledge that liddle ciddy is not going to go away anymore. We’ll be back and in their faces for the forseeable future and beyond. Johnny On The Spot: rags 2 City 2
H: Portsmouth, Sun 31 Jan 13h30 GMT
A: Hull City, Sat 6 Feb 15h00 GMT
H: Bolton Wanderers, Tue 9 Feb 19h45 GMT
H: Stoke City, FAC5 Sat/Sun 13/14 Feb
A: Stoke City, Tue 16 Feb 19h45 GMT
H: Liverpool, Sat 21 Feb 15h00 GMT