Everyone’s a winner – MAN CITY 3 SUNDERLAND 1 – LEAGUE CUP FINAL 2014

Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City weren’t the only winners to emerge from an enthralling Capital One Cup Final, where the Sky Blues finally overcame Gus Poyet’s spirited Sunderland.

Winner - Manuel has first trophy in England  Courtesy @MCFC

Winner – Manuel has first trophy in England Courtesy @MCFC

The ‘Football Family’ – the national game in this country – hit new heights of sportsmanship and camaraderie in a remarkable show of respect between two of the most passionate sets of supporters in the land.

Never before at a match, have I witnessed generosity such as that shown by the massed ranks of the vanquished Mackems, who applauded their City counterparts along the packed walkways outside of Wembley.

City supporters reciprocated in a show of mutual admiration that continued as the legions from the north edged away to coaches, cars and trains and away from the home of English football.

Capital gain - City banked their first piece of silverware for 2014  Courtesy @MCFC

Capital gain – City banked their first piece of silverware for 2014 Courtesy @MCFC

The gesture reflected the over-arching mood of an occasion which totally belied the way so many have come to view the League Cup, as a downtrodden competition, one that clutters up an already congested and pressurised Premier League fixture list.

Just try telling those in the 84,697 crowd that the League Cup was of no consequence, it didn’t matter and that it wasn’t worth winning in the first place.

Not so long ago City would have been exactly where Sunderland find themselves. This would have been almost as good as City could have hoped for, before Sheikh Mansour showed up on the scene in August, 2008.

Blue Ribbon Event - Kompany lifts the League Cup aloft after City's 38 year wait  Courtesy @MCFC

Blue Ribbon Event – Kompany lifts the League Cup aloft after City’s 38 year wait Courtesy @MCFC

It wasn’t that Vincent Kompany & Co wanted to win any less than their opponents, it’s simply that Premier League titles and chasing Champions League glory are no longer pipedreams, they are a gorgeous reality.

Adam Johnson, a PL title and FA Cup winner with City, put it into pre-match perspective when he said being a ‘Cup Winner’ with Sunderland would accord a player legendary status.

City’s meteoric rise since the Abu Dhabi intervention means expectations, as well as standards have risen at an alarming, but by the same token, pleasing rate.

Pellegrini needed the win to start populating his unjustly criticised CV in what the detractors call ‘European football’. In reality they mean La Liga where, for eight of nine seasons, the Chilean was up against the might of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Cool Dude - City's red hot Chilean manager wants more trophies  Courtesy @MCFC

Cool Dude – City’s red hot Chilean manager wants more trophies Courtesy @MCFC

City wanted the win to add to their burgeoning bundle of trophies and boost confidence levels as they focus on FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League challenges in the coming days and weeks.

It’s fair to say a League Cup win would have meant more to Sunderland than City. City fans need only remember the euphoria when beating Stoke in the 2011 FA Cup Final, to get a sense of what it would have meant to the Wearsiders.

Starved of any significant honours since their 1973 FA Cup Final giant-killing win over Leeds, the Sunderland fans easily outnumbered City’s. Not that the Sky Blue supporters were found wanting for passion or volume, it was just that Sunderland had somehow snapped up the majority of ‘neutral’ seats.

Argy Bargy - Demichelis may not be a favourite with the City fans but he's a first time League Cup winner  Courtesy @MCFC

Argy Bargy – Demichelis may not be a favourite with the City fans but he’s a first time League Cup winner Courtesy @MCFC

Buoyed by Fabio Borini’s well executed 10th minute goal, the Black Cats were purring at the interval, with a 1-0 lead and City lacking both the guile and firepower to trouble Sunderland keeper, Vito Mannone.

The first half had proven frustrating for City, even with a clearly not match-fit, Sergio Aguero restored to the starting line up.

After starting at a good tempo, City were susceptible to Sunderland’s swift counter attacks and, as the initial 45 minutes came to a close, visions of the Wigan nightmare could never be adequately banished.

Comeback trail - Sergio lasted an hour in his first game since injury Courtesy @MCFC

Comeback trail – Sergio lasted an hour in his first game since injury Courtesy @MCFC

Highlight of the half had been a boisterously observed 60 seconds of applause and singing to honour Mike Doyle, City’s fallen soldier of a bygone age. The Wembley Stadium scoreboard carried Blue Blood ‘Doyley’s’ image from the 4th to the 5th minute, earning gratitude from all the City fans present.

Not so Sky’s coverage and commentary, with Martin Tyler and Gary Neville seeing fit to not even remark upon it.

Blue Blood - Mike Doyle was well and truly remembered by City fans, but ignored by Sky TV

Blue Blood – Mike Doyle was well and truly remembered by City fans, but ignored by Sky TV

Equally, it was never going to happen with the channel’s carefully chosen, neutral and ‘balanced’ pundit line-up of Kevin Phillips, Jamie Redknapp and the nowadays, annoying, Niall Quinn.

Impartial – my sky blue backside – pathetic, more like.

Wembley Big Screen - Mike Doyle's name was sung out loud and proud

Wembley Big Screen – Mike Doyle’s name was sung out loud and proud

Nowadays if City are trailing, there’s something strangely comforting when thinking about a Pellegrini half-time team talk. He has the nous and tactical acumen to, more often than not, turn things around. 

Despite the occasion, City had the look of an under-performing unit, similar to that which had eventually seen off Stoke seven days beforehand.

It was as if City had ticked a box asking to remain anonymous.

Good Kompany - Vincent overcame a tough first half to captain City to glory  Courtesy @MCFC

Good Kompany – Vincent overcame a tough first half to captain City to glory Courtesy @MCFC

Demichelis and Dzeko were drawing the now familiar murmurings of discontent, Yaya, Nasri and Silva weren’t pulling up any trees and even Captain Fantastic Kompany was culpable for Sunderland’s opener.

Thankfully City could fall back on a football cliché and glory in a game of two halves.

It wasn’t quite ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ more like ‘Won in 105 seconds’ as two truly world class strikes, inside two minutes, turned the match upside down.

Best ever - Yaya turns to celebrate his greatest ever goal  Courtesy @MCFC

Best ever – Yaya turns to celebrate his greatest ever goal Courtesy @MCFC

Yaya once again illustrated that even when below par and trundling around the pitch, he can still produce something truly extraordinary. His gloriously crafted 30-yard strike was, by his own admission, the best goal of his career and 17th of a prolific season.

It beggars belief that some of the anti-City brigade have the temerity to suggest the 55th minute wonder goal was a misplaced cross!

The City supporters celebrated wildly with a mixture of relief and renewed belief that this, would indeed, be their day.

Yaya huddle - City's Ivorian colossus celebrates his 30 yard wonder strike  Courtesy @MCFC

Yaya huddle – City’s Ivorian colossus celebrates his 30 yard wonder strike Courtesy @MCFC

In the 56th minute Samir Nasri’s bullet like finish had the City fans on a straight line trajectory to Blue Moon Heaven.

There was no escaping the cacophony – the explosion – of sheer unadulerated Sky Blue joy as the Frenchman, reborn under Pellegrini, launched an unstoppable shot from the edge of the 18 yard box, with the ‘outstep’ of his right foot.

As with Toure’s shot seconds before, Mannone was rendered redundant as Nasri’s SAM (Surface to Air Missile) found its target, blowing Sunderland’s defence to smithereens.

SAM - Nasri's surface to air missile gave City the lead  Courtesy @MCFC

SAM – Nasri’s surface to air missile gave City the lead Courtesy @MCFC

Capitalising on the sudden surge of attacking success, Pellegrini took a tiring Aguero out of the firing line, replacing him with Navas. The Engineer knew the Spanish winger would bring width to the frontline and help City outflank the weary Wearsiders.

Sunderland weren’t ready to give up the fight as the 50,000-strong Black Cat contingent sought to claw their way back into contention.

Javi Garcia replaced Silva to help repel the North East hordes and The Beast had his first taste of Wembley when the deeply disappointing Dzeko departed the fight.

Jubilations - City players pile in as they pile up a winning League Cup lead  Courtesy @MCFC

Jubilations – City players pile in as they pile up a winning League Cup lead Courtesy @MCFC

Fletcher fluffed two opportunities to level the score before City, sensing Sunderland’s desperation, hit them on the counter attack, finally nailing the Cup they craved.

Fernandinho won the ball deep in City territory and Yaya rumbled, rather than trundled, across the half way line. Nifty Navas, doing ‘90mph’ down the right flank, took a precise pass from the Ivorian and drilled it past Mannone from 15 yards out.

Sweet Jesus - Navas slides in to seal the deal - 3-1 City  Courtesy @MCFC

Sweet Jesus – Navas slides in to seal the deal – 3-1 City Courtesy @MCFC

It’ll pain those who continually seek to undermine Pellegrini that the man from Santiago has now won something – other than just the InterToto Cup – during his time in Europe.

With 121 goals scored this season and Sergio back in the frame, City can make attack their best form of defence. It’s a philosophy that has served Pellegrini well, although there’s no doubting a world class centre back will top his summer transfer list.

Multiple major silverware in one season remains a realistic prospect for only the second time in City’s history, having won the League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup in 1970.

Zaba and The Beast - Pablo and Alvaro enjoy their Wembley win  Courtesy @MCFC

Zaba and The Beast – Pablo and Alvaro enjoy their Wembley win Courtesy @MCFC

A win over Uwe Rosler’s Wigan on Sunday– a revenge mission for last season’s inglorious FA Cup Final defeat – would see City’s season heading south in the nicest possible way…straight back to Wembley and another date with destiny.

Team Spirit - Can City repeat the FLC success in the FA Cup and Premier League for a domestic treble?  Courtesy @MCFC

Team Spirit – Can City repeat the FLC success in the FA Cup and Premier League for a domestic treble? Courtesy @MCFC

Who knows it could be one big reunion between the magnanimous Mackems and Mancunians!



By David Walker




And finally… If you feel like celebrating City’s sweet victory with a confectionary creation ALMOST as good as Yaya’s goal follow @box_cake www.the-cake-box.net

Slice of Sky Blue Heaven - contact The Cake Box in Knutsford if you want to mark City's latest sweet taste of glory

Slice of Sky Blue Heaven – contact The Cake Box in Knutsford if you want to mark City’s latest sweet taste of glory




  1. March 3, 2014  10:15 pm by bluwes Reply

    I know we call it an instep, but have never heard of an out step of the right foot before...lol. Good piece as usual Dave, was a great day and a great result.

    • March 3, 2014  10:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      You have no 'sole' & are obviously a bit of a 'heel' #MCFCBLUEBROS

  2. March 3, 2014  10:45 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Tell you what, couldn't believe what I'd seen when Yaya's goal went in, and it was only when I got home and watched the highlights/internet footage that I realised exactly what a screamer it was!

    Great day out, finally got to the Green Man (brilliant) and met loads of people I haven't seen for ages including my old boss who moved from the Kippax to The Colin Bell.

    Here's hoping this win gives us the momentum for the upcoming run of tough games, particularly Barcelona!

    • March 3, 2014  10:56 pm by David Walker Reply

      Same here No 5 but never made it to The Green Man. Not counting any chickens but BIG GUTEN TAG to Uwe then blitzkrieg Wigan and we can do the Wembley gig all over again. If so, hope to see you down there!

  3. March 3, 2014  10:45 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Dennis Tueart's winner the last time we won the League Cup won a vote for the best in the competition's history....how will Toure's and Nasri's be viewed in due course? I'd like to see that put to the test, and see the result!
    It was a day for a steady nerve, and I've got to admit I wavered at times watching the game, but ultimately those two minutes swung the game our way. Although Sunderland did have those two chances, they didn't really cause Pants too many problems.
    I couldn't care less what anyone else outside our club may think, over the course of qualifying, this was a well earned and deserved victory.

    • March 3, 2014  10:59 pm by David Walker Reply

      I think Yaya's surpasses Tueart's. I think a lot of us began to wonder where and when the breakthrough was to come, but boy did we do it in style when the time came!

  4. March 3, 2014  11:24 pm by John Evans TT Reply

    Thank you for taking the trouble to sit down at 9:30pm to write your column.

    Finalist's getting the lions share of tickets makes the League cup/Capital cup the 'fans cup', not the prawn sandwich brigades. Sensible kick-off time helped.

    Some fans support through thick and thin. Pompeii, Palace, Rags, Mackums and of course us! Certainly Sunderland (in the form of Bardsley) tried to 'smarten us up' from the kick off. Wouldn't we if the roles were reversed.

    The Sunderland message board describes it thus 'On Silva(?) in the first few minutes, what a fucking tackle, certainly made himself known. The fatha said it was reminiscent of Richie Pitt in 73'.

    Silva, bless his cotton socks took it like a man and got on with business. It was not a nasty game, not like the one at St James'. It was a great advert for football played in a generous spirit. No surprise the generosity continued long after the final whistle. I am not even annoyed about Dzeko's 'no show'. The inclusion of him and Demic (Not fit for purpose) helis leads me to think the old boy didn't want to risk Negredo or Lescott before Tuesday, and we'll be going for it against Barcelona. Now wouldn't that be something?

    Sunday proved City are not hated by those who we rubbed shoulders with before the Sheikh arrived. It is only those whose party we've gate crashed and by the media they control who loath us, and with good reason.

    • March 4, 2014  12:57 am by David Walker Reply

      Good points made about those who loathe born of fear. Obviously Demichelis is banned from the Barcelona game on March 12 and, having kept faith with Dzeko for a showpiece final, Pellegrini can sleep at nights when he relegates Edin to the bench on a permanent basis. Dzeko has had enough chances to impress, or at least give 100%, and he's failed to grasp the opportunities. He has to go in the summer and if Inter Milan will give us £15m then it's arriverdercci Edin.

  5. March 4, 2014  12:36 am by Simon Dear Reply

    Two moments of World class quality changed the game for us, before that it was 'Wigan' all over again .. It even started raining ! . Breathtaking two minutes of football power & finishing, this should be the catalyst to win at least one more ( EPL for me ) which would do nicely in MPs first season.
    Thought the Mackems were impeccable in defeat and had some great banter with them on the train going out of Wembley ..naming players that played for both clubs etc etc ..
    Here's a test of your history David .. Which 3 players were signed by City from them in the same deal which took Tony Towers to Sunderland .. Like they said , " Yaw got three of ur best playas like, wey got feckin Toony Towers" ..
    Great Day lets hope for more great rbnr!

    • March 4, 2014  1:02 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Simon - I seem to recall City bought Tueart, Watson and Horswill from the 1973 Sunderland side and Towers was valued at £125,000 either in one of the deals, or as a straight forward transfer. I think Dennis cost City £275,000, whereas Big Dave and Micky cost a combined £325,000. Ask Bernard Halford, he'll have it written down somewhere!

  6. March 4, 2014  6:35 am by Pete Lynch Reply

    Whst a day!

    • March 4, 2014  7:12 am by David Walker Reply

      Or as Man United fans would call it, a Sunday without a match ;-)

  7. March 4, 2014  8:50 am by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    A great day out for me and my 2 sons. My 8 year olds 6th trip to wembley!! My 5 year olds 2nd after the Wigan game last year and at half time it was going to be his 2nd and last!! What a turn around and some truly stunning goals. Yaya's has to be the best goal at the New Wembley by an absolute country mile and right up their with gazzas goal against Scotland as greatest goal ever at any wembley! Onwards and upwards! #TrustOurMP

    • March 4, 2014  8:54 am by David Walker Reply

      So glad it turned out well for both generations of the Derbyshire clan! Hopefully 2 more trips to our 2nd home this season.

  8. March 4, 2014  9:32 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Personally, I think that Nasri's goal was a better goal than Toure's. Both goals were world class strikes, but the build up to Nasri's was superior (in my opinion). Ultimately, football is a team game and I far prefer a well worked team goal (even if it end in a tap-in from two yards out) to an individual wonder strike from 35 yards.

    • March 4, 2014  12:17 pm by David Walker Reply

      Definite merit in that argument George - both great goals & Navas' wasn't too shabby either!

  9. March 4, 2014  9:43 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    The scenes when Nasri scored, I'm black and blue from been bounced all over the show. Brilliant day out, no need to go into the match detail, you've covered that brilliantly. For me it was especially sweet as it would've been my Mum's birthday (she was quite important in my formative years!) and I shared my tribute to Mike Doyle with her. Scratch another trophy off the "to do list".
    Thanks David

    • March 4, 2014  12:19 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nice sentiment about your Ma - emotional day. Cheers Thistle CTWD

  10. March 4, 2014  9:48 am by Simon Dear Reply

    Spot on David .. If ever in any doubt ! . I got Tueart and Watson but couldn't think of the other , don't think Horswill played many for us then . The Yaya goal is the best but the only problem is it wasn't the winner , Unlike the over header from Tueart and not forgetting a certain Ricardo Villa ( which I actually think was terrible defending !) .
    Although Yaya's changed the game and was just as valuable.
    Like you I can't believe that some have suggested it was a fluke , he got himself into that position 3 or 4 times before the goal , he was already eyeing it up and then he put his arm up and demands the ball back from Zabs , has a quick glance, sets himself and bends it with accuracy and precision , believe me he knew exactly what he was doing . Special special moment. Cheers Dave!

    • March 4, 2014  12:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks as ever Simon - sorry I missed you at our 2nd home - maybe catch up at FAC SF in April

  11. March 4, 2014  9:52 am by carol Reply

    great win Davy, they do like to put us through the ringer though eh? Not even gonna mention Dzeko the big idle lummox....doh! as for Demichelis...I have a theory, he looks so different on his squad picture I think there's two of them and we accidentally bought the wrong one, perhaps even his dad? just a thought. However alls well that ends well....pass the duraglit xx

    • March 4, 2014  12:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      Lol - Demichelis Dynamic Duo - God forbid!

  12. March 4, 2014  11:56 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    I remember when we lost last year and the hurt we all felt our Hotel had a good number of Wigan supporters and they didn't gloat and at the same time we acknowledge their win with dignity. Yesterday support from both sides were indeed admirable. All in all a fantastic game and the goals were sensational celebrated late into the night in Sydney altho no 2 son is a rag-doh but no 1 and daughter with friends were celebrating in London. Felt privileged yesterday to be part of this new era. Thank you again for putting everything so honestly in your read.

    • March 4, 2014  12:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      THANKYOU for reading & feedback!

  13. March 4, 2014  7:22 pm by DOUG HENSHAW Reply

    Hi Dave great blog as always my trusted friend. What a fantastic game watched it again last night even better second time around. full credit to Sunderland & there fans who helped make it a great spectacle. Superb football & brilliant goals. A special mention for Sami the guy is playing like the Sami that was at Arsenal his all round play is top notch. Just cant understand why MP keeps picking Dezko & Demichellis surely Lescott should of played in the final its the least he deserves. I did hear that Demichellis had offered Lescott his medal dont know how true that is but if he did then fair play to the guy. On we go Wigan then Barcelona can we come back at Barcelona after the second half at Wembley im starting to believe maybe just maybe.

    • March 5, 2014  12:28 am by David Walker Reply

      Trust our MP - who knows if we are a goal up with 15 mins left - Barca might have the jitters!

  14. March 4, 2014  7:22 pm by John Evans TT Reply

    There is a tendancy to think of footballers as being overpaid and greedy, but just occasionally we see the human side. I lifted this from 'Sports Witness'.

    "Performances in the Premier League have brought Fernandinho international attention and he's now being noticed more in his own country of Brazil. The midfielder moved to Ukrainian football in 2005 before he had made himself a big star in Brazil, that left him largely ignored despite success with Shakhtar Donetsk. He had a handful of appearances for the national side but wasn't considered a regular and it's taken a move to Manchester City to get him in the picture for the World Cup.

    His recent call-up makes his World Cup dream a possible aim and that's left the footballer's family overcome with emotion. Speaking to Gazzetta, Fernandinho said "We Brazilians go through so many difficulties, there is a lot of poverty. My dad has always pushed me to continue. I remember when I was training as a child, I did not have the money to pay the bus fare to go to training. My dad had to go to work and there was no money for two tickets. he told me that he'd go by bike and I'd take the bus.

    "This call-up is for him and my family... my dad could not speak (when told of the Brazil call-up), he cried all the time. Looking back on the many sacrifices, it's impossible to control the emotion."

    Fernandinho is very happy with his new life at Manchester City and explained he's willing to continue to make sacrifices as long as it helps his career. Getting into the final Brazil World Cup squad is not a certainty because Brazil have a glut of talented players in his position. He's up against people like Pualinho, Lucas Leiva, Luiz Gustavo and Hernanes. Whilst Fernandinho has probably had a better season than any of them he doesn't have the international experience they do and he'll want to impress Luiz Felipe Scolari as much as he can before the World Cup squad is picked."

    • March 5, 2014  1:04 am by David Walker Reply

      Brazil would be idiots not to pick Fernandinho.

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