Not so long ago Carlos Tevez had to sit at the front of the bus with the driver if Manchester City reached Wembley – he was the only one who knew the route.
That was back in 2011. Nowadays the majority of the team could probably get there blindfolded as the Sky Blues head to the home of English football for the sixth time in three seasons.
It would have been seven had it not been for the London Olympics and the playing of the Community Shield at Villa Park last season, but fair to say hitting the Wembley trail is a regular pursuit for City fans after decades of football famine.
Nowadays, Manuel Pellegrini’s men have been feasting like the goal gluttons they have become, and the Capital One Cup semi final 2nd leg at West Ham was no reason to stop.
City’s insatiable appetite for goals, goals and more goals was once again fulfilled, with an almost embarrassingly easy 3-0 stroll in the park, (Upton on this occasion) against a plucky but demoralised Hammers side who suffered the indignity of a record 9-0 aggregate semi final crushing.
Any lingering hopes harboured by Big Fat Sam of a miraculous way back from the 6-0 1st leg defeat were soon extinguished upon sight of the City teamsheet. Messrs Negredo and Aguero with 42 goals between them, were in the starting line-up.
Just 154 seconds into the match and City were fizzy pop – sorry – 7 Up, as The Beast nodded in a Marcos Lopes cross, totally unchallenged.
The clock showed it was ten to eight on the night, and West Ham would now have to go After Eight to try and win, but City were looking in mint condition.
21 minutes later Sergio Aguero – the beneficiary of a second Lopes assist – made it 2-0 to the visitors and pulled himself level with Negredo, at 22 goals a-piece for the season.
If these two are going head-to-head for the goalscoring laurels at Manchester City it makes every Premier League defenders nightmare just that little more intense.
When the man from Sevilla surged through the heart of what was theoretically West Ham’s ‘defence’, to score City’s third on the night, ninth of the tie and 106th of the season it could so easily have prompted 3,000 travelling Blues to sing ”It’s gonna be 10, it’s gonna be 10 you unlucky ‘bar stewards’ it’s gonna be 10.”
A sense of decorum and display of magnanimity for the 11,000 hardy Hammers’ support precluded such a ditty.
Negredo’s determined 25-yard run and delightful finish as he scooped the ball over Jaaskelainen, means he has now scored 23 in his debut season, one goal ahead of Aguero.
With bubbles well and truly burst, the self-deprecating East Londoners chorused “We lose every week, we lose every week, you’re nothing special, we lose every week.”
Great banter which reflects well on the West Ham supporters who are suffering what was the norm for Manchester City fans, not so long ago.
The win and passage through to the club’s first League Cup Final since 1976 aside, Pellegrini had much to be pleased about, not least the appearance of Stevan Jovetic from the subs’ bench.
Missing in action since October, it can only be hoped that the Montenegrin forward can make a full contribution to City’s fight for silverware on four fronts from now on.
Similarly it was encouraging to see Jack Rodwell back from what seems a perennial hamstring problem but, once again, this is a burgeoning talent who has so much to give City, if only he can stay fit.
The main honours went to 18-year old Portuguese attacker Marcos Lopes, who won the Man of the Match honours after his two assists.
Nicknamed ‘FigoRonaldo’ by his team mates, he looks a real livewire, so while the Dark Side hail Adnan Januzaj as the next ‘big thing’, City are content to let the little striker go about his business and secure his place in their high achieving squad.
With a berth in the Capital One Cup Final now assured on March 2nd City can sit back and see if it is to be an all Mancunian affair or a North West versus North East battle royale.
The Manchester derby at The Swamp – scheduled for March 1st – will now be re-arranged, albeit the teams could conceivably meet the next day at Wembley.
When asked about a preference for a Wembley opponent, Pellegrini would not be drawn, other than to say it wasn’t just important to reach the final, it was equally so to play with a certain style. 19 goals scored and one conceded in five games would suggest he is achieved the objective.
Post match, Joleon Lescott – who had a tremendous game keeping the Hammers in check – alluded to the possibility he may not even be at City by the time the Final takes place.
West Ham are ready to honour the last six months of his contract with City, and then promise a further three seasons on £70k per week wages. It could prove tempting to Joleon and, in turn, help City move for a younger, faster and more accomplished central defender.
One immediate concern for Pellegrini is a shoulder injury sustained by Negredo. A diagnosis is expected on Thursday but the fact the Spaniard finished the match, albeit visibly in pain, bodes well.
A less than magnanimous Allardyce whinged about how his team were wronged by referees, especially when playing against a team that ‘…spends hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds on transfer fees and hundreds of millions of pounds on wages every week…’
He even had the temerity to say even if one of his players had been punched in the face, in the penalty area by a City player, West Ham wouldn’t have been given a penalty.
Strange comments, especially in light of a returning Andy Carroll using all the thuggery at his disposal to assault both Matija Nastasic and Costel Pantilimon.
With his team all at sea, Carroll might be better off applying to be the new face of Captain Birds Eye with his unsightly facial fuzz.
Give it a rest Sam the needle on the record’s stuck – and this from an under achieving, gum gobbling braggart who is the 13th highest paid manager in world football -allegedly.
Back to football, and next up for City is Watford in the FA Cup. It gives Pellegrini another chance to rotate his squad with further opportunities for Jovetic, Rodwell and Lopes, affording the likes of Aguero, Yaya and Silva some respite before the midweek clash with Spurs.
By David Walker
READ BUT NEVER RED is delighted to announce that lifelong City fan, Doug Henshaw (@bluecity58) is the winner of the WARRIOR SUPERHEAT football boots competition @Warrior_FTBL http://www.warriorfootball.com/boot/superheat
Doug from Morecambe, was the name drawn out of the hat – completely at random – after we received dozens of entries via twitter and the RBNR site. Amazingly, he has requested the boots in red, as they are for a friend of the family! Shame on you Mr Henshaw 😉
As a special aside, READ BUT NEVER RED were both thrilled and humbled to be able to send brave City fan Paul Glennon (@paulandailz)Warrior boots signed by Vincent Kompany – thank you to all who made it possible – especially City’s Captain Fantastic
Finally, big thanks to all who entered the competition and, as the readership of READ BUT NEVER RED continues to grow, we will bring you more opportunities in the future.