By Richard Butterworth
The semi-final against Manchester United represents City’s biggest game since the play-off game against Gillingham. It is probably no coincidence that Gillingham was City’s last game at the old Wembley and this is our first game at the new one.
Being in a semi-final in consecutive years is pleasing from a City perspective, and it represents real progress that City are in contention to win major domestic tournaments, but there is obviously a big difference between being in contention and actually winning.
Whilst beating Man United at Wembley would no doubt be momentous for City, it would certainly not guarantee success in the final, as a tie against Bolton or Stoke would surely prove a tough one.
Beating United, whilst providing immediate gratification to City fans would also provide a basis for City to kick on for the rest of season in their bid to secure qualification for the Champions League.
Losing for both clubs is unthinkable, but whilst it is a game of high importance for both clubs, it is probably more key for City to win the game, not just because of the time they have waited to win a major trophy but because United have the Premier League and Champions League to occupy them if they lose.
As for the game itself, both clubs have their talisman missing, and whilst this for City means they will have to prove that they can win without Carlos Tevez, their performance against United in the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford should give them confidence. It was a game in which City played solid, fluent football and yet Tevez was only a peripheral figure throughout.
City will also draw confidence from the fact that United are Rooney-less, so there is no chance of a repeat of his heroics in the previous derby. Yet Hernandez, Berbatov or a combination of them both will provide City with a stern test in Rooney’s absence.
Whatever the result is, it is sure to be an exciting game, but when the dust settles all a City fan wants is the right result, whether we get it by playing well or not is not important, progressing to the final is all that matters.
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