Do it for Blue Blood ‘Doyley’ – MAN CITY v SUNDERLAND – LEAGUE CUP FINAL 2014

When true blue blood skipper Mike Doyle triumphantly held the League Cup aloft at Wembley on February 28th, 1976, who in their worst Manchester City nightmares could have envisaged what was to follow for three-and-a-half decades?

Tony Book’s City side were brimming with brilliance and high expectations, acknowledged internationals in every position and a harmonious blend of young talent and established top level experience.

Only the tragic loss of Colin ‘The King’ Bell deprived City of the 1976-77 First Division title, edged out by a single, solitary painful point by Bob Paisley’s all conquering and much lauded Liverpool.

Blue Blood - Gone but NEVER forgotten Mike Doyle will be remembered at 14.04hrs at Wembley

Blue Blood – Gone but NEVER forgotten Mike Doyle will be remembered at 14.04hrs at Wembley

The 2-1 League Cup Final victory over Newcastle United was perceived to be a pre-cursor to bigger and better City fortunes, for richer not poorer…and so it was, it’s just that it took 35-years long than expected.

In the 21st century the Football League Cup is the runt of the litter in terms of England’s top domestic honours.

Rather like a problem child cast into care, the competition has been fostered – never wholly or properly adopted – by a string of ‘parents’ with good intentions, all of whom have ultimately tossed the Cup aside for one reason or another.

Final countdown - Can City slay North East opposition just as they did in 1976?  Courtesy @MCFC

Final countdown – Can City slay North East opposition just as they did in 1976? Courtesy @MCFC

The Milk Cup, Littlewoods Cup, Rumbelows Cup, Coca Cola Cup, Worthington Cup, Carling Cup and nowadays, the Capital One Cup, call it what you will, the League Cup retains a special place in the hearts of City fans of a certain generation.

So too does the man who lifted the Cup 38 years ago, the Captain and heartbeat of Manchester City, the man most likely to have blue blood coursing through his veins, if such a thing was biologically possible.

Mike Doyle remains the most decorated and successful player ever to don the sky blue of Manchester City. Not only that, he was the most dedicated, almost visceral, Manure-hater of all time, revelling in winding up the Trafford Troglodytes at every opportunity.

Sterling opportunity - Manuel Pellegrini can follow Mike Doyle and be a League Cup winner  Courtesy @MCFC

Sterling opportunity – Manuel Pellegrini can follow Mike Doyle and be a League Cup winner Courtesy @MCFC

Tragically ‘Doyley’ succumbed to years of alcohol abuse in the summer of 2011, passing away aged just 64 years. He was a pivotal figure in the Mercer-Allison glory days and lived just long enough to see the onset of the City renaissance under Sheikh Mansour’s stewardship.

Mike Doyle was a winner – as Manuel Pellegrini will be on Sunday – but the plaudits will ring out earlier for the City legend of a bygone era, as opposed to the man destined to be the club’s most successful ever manager.

At 14.04hrs GMT well over 31,000 City fans on the West side of Wembley will break into 60 seconds of rapturous applause, to honour the memory of the hard man who wore the Number 4 shirt with such distinction.

Saviour Sergio - Aguero is back in full training,but will he start for City?  Courtesy @MCFC

Saviour Sergio – Aguero is back in full training,but will he start for City? Courtesy @MCFC

Approximately 86 minutes of game time later (added time or God forbid, extra time and penalties later) the new home of English football wants to be reverberating to the sound of  ‘Sheik Mansour went to Spain in a Lamborghini…’ as the massed ranks of sky blue honour their new manager as he embarks on his English silverware collection.

It’ll be a different tune to the one sung during City’s last Wembley visit when, with Roberto Mancini’s future hanging in the balance – (in truth he was already on his way out of the Etihad) – City supporters sang out in favour of their Italian leader, to the detriment of the mild mannered man from Chile.

Now, 9½ months on, the trust levels and respect for Pellegrini and his expansive and attacking style of play are obvious. Mancini will forever be held in high esteem for his achievements, but Pellegrini has the potential to secure an even loftier place in the affections of City fans, in the fullness of time.

Wembley Warrior - last time out Zaba saw red and was sent off in the FA Cup Final  Courtesy @MCFC

Wembley Warrior – last time out Zaba saw red and was sent off in the FA Cup Final Courtesy @MCFC

City start as favourites, but with the woes of Wigan and that FA Cup Final reversal still fresh and equally raw, Vincent Kompany & Co will surely be taking nothing for granted.

Sunderland have been transformed since Gus Poyet succeeded Paulo Di Canio. They inflicted the almost obligatory 1-0 defeat on City at the Stadium of Light this season – the fourth in a row – and the Black Cats believe they have the tactics to frustrate City and hit them hard on the counter attack.

Wembley starters - Captain Fantastic Kompany will lead City but will 'Pants' be City's last line of defence? Courtesy @MCFC

Wembley starters – Captain Fantastic Kompany will lead City but will ‘Pants’ be City’s last line of defence? Courtesy @MCFC

Having unexpectedly beaten Chelsea in the quarter finals and then dispatched Manchester United in an unforgettable comedy sketch masquerading as a penalty shoot-out, the Wearsiders are capable of springing a shock.

Ex-Blues winger, Adam Johnson has been outstanding since the New Year, helping feed a genuine belief in the North East that they can, and will, claim their first major honour since beating Leeds United in the 1973 FA Cup Final.

For Pellegrini’s team it marks the first stage of a highly unlikely much hyped quadruple. Any City fan with half a brain cell knows that the press have only put City on the pedestal of playing for four major trophies, so they can knock them off, if, as and when they fall out of contention, one-by-one.

The biggest boost to the hunt for honours is to have a fully fit and suitably robust Sergio Aguero back to reignite a stuttering attack.

Up for the Cup - Can The Beast come roaring back to form and make capital at Wembley?  Courtesy @MCFC

Up for the Cup – Can The Beast come roaring back to form and make capital at Wembley? Courtesy @MCFC

Negredo, Dzeko and Jovetic have contributed 44 goals between them – a decent enough haul at this stage of the season – but it’s Sergio who is the catalyst to City’s attack, with 26 goals in 25 appearances.

Keeping him fit, along with Vincent Kompany, is critically important if City are to succeed on multiple fronts.

Speculation abounds as to whether Pellegrini will stay ‘loyal’ to Costel Pantilimon, who has now reverted to his default position as Joe Hart’s understudy – effectively, City’s keeper in domestic cup competitions.

After the mentally and physically draining encounter with Barcelona, City looked flat and jaded in a scrappy 1-0 win against a negative, but well drilled Stoke City.

Big man for the big occasion - Yaya has been a Wembley goalscoring winner twice before. Can he make it happen a third time?  Courtesy @MCFC

Big man for the big occasion – Yaya has been a Wembley goalscoring winner twice before. Can he make it happen a third time? Courtesy @MCFC

With no mid-week fixture, the anticipation of playing at Wembley and the prospect of banking a trophy with 2½ months of the season still outstanding, City should be refreshed and fully focused.

They can exorcise the demons of that wretched FA Cup loss last May when, in front of more than 50,000 sky blue supporters, they produced a staggeringly insipid display, one that remains truly baffling to this day.

Pellegrini must start to deliver on the task set by City CEO, Ferran Soriano, of winning five trophies in five years.

Sheikh Mansour and City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s true aspirations lie with the Champions League and Premier League titles – the League Cup is merely an hors d’ oeuvre.

Divine display - can Navas supply the crosses to help City nail Sunderland?  Courtesy @MCFC

Divine display – can Navas supply the crosses to help City nail Sunderland? Courtesy @MCFC

But Pellegrini may as well get a taste for sterling silver at this stage. It certainly served his nemesis, Jose Mourinho, well during his debut season in England, winning the trophy in 2005 with a 3-2 win over Liverpool.

It may not be significant when compared with attempting to beat Barcelona by three goals in the Nou Camp, or winning games in hand to hunt down Chelsea in the PL title chase.

It is however, significant in sending out a message that Manuel Pellegrini is a winner, a man who’s started as he means to go on. It lays down a marker that City are back in the business of taking care of business.

It’s a philosophy that a certain Michael Doyle signed up to all those years ago and one that will stand City in good stead for the foreseeable future.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

 

Please see my FLC PREVIEW on the official MCFC website: http://www.mcfc.co.uk/News/Features/2014/February/City-Blogger-David-Walker-7

 

BLUE DEDICATION…

As City stand on the brink of claiming silverware at Wembley, it’s not only the legendary Mike Doyle who cannot attend.

Devoted City fan Paul Glennon is fighting his own tenacious and courageous battle to hang on to life and all the joys it can bring, via his beloved Sky Blues and young family.

Father-of-five Paul, is one of the bravest men I’ve yet to have the privilege of meeting, and I hope City do the business by 16.00hrs GMT this Sunday to give him a ‘feelgood’ factor amid his darkest and most difficult days.

Tweet Paul your thoughts and best wishes as we head for Wembley @paulandailz

 #MCFCBLUEBROTHER

COME ON CITY!

23 Comments

  1. March 1, 2014  10:07 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Truly inspiring read and I'm sure our Boys will bring us back that Cup

    • March 1, 2014  11:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      Fingers crossed - thanks for your feedback.

  2. March 1, 2014  10:18 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    What a fantastic pre match read , Vinny has been banging the drum all week in true Doyle style and as long as we play our quick flowing game then the cup should be ours . My only hope is that we don't end up wishing that a player of Mike Doyles ilk is not in the ranks to play alongside VK . I truly hope MP goes with Lescott as he more than most has a reason to win this cup ! . Safe trip to all blues and lets hope the first 1 of a more realistic domestic treble is put safely in the bag . The EPL can wait, silverware means the world to blues fans . Come on you blue boys make us proud .

    • March 1, 2014  11:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes, Simon, each match as it comes which means the FLC is our Number 1 priority!

  3. March 1, 2014  10:21 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    I've a feeling tomorrow's result (and performance) could have a huge bearing on how successful we are for the rest of the season.

    No margin for error!

    P.S. Looking forward to seeing a few of you in the Green Man tomorrow - you'll recognise me,. I'll be the 40 something bloke wearing a City shirt. ;)

    • March 1, 2014  11:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      On that description we're as good as related except I can't boast your boyhood age (a few more years on the planet!) Hope to see a few of the RBNR Comment Crew tomorrow and some of the Twitterattie, but good intentions and all that...

  4. March 1, 2014  10:51 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Stirring stuff excited for tomorrow. I predict all out assault from our team. Hopefully first trophy in the cabinet. Will tweet Paul as requested.

    • March 1, 2014  11:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Susan - it's times like these we remember legends of old and brave men and women of the here & now.

  5. March 1, 2014  11:20 pm by Bill Glas Reply

    Excellent. Just the inspiration we blues need.

    • March 1, 2014  11:42 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Bill - hope to goodness we don't mess it up this time.

  6. March 2, 2014  4:58 am by Jim Land Reply

    Won't be able to watch this one, but will probably not be able to sleep either. Might get up early and try to stream it.

    • March 2, 2014  5:49 am by David Walker Reply

      Hope City and all us supporters of the sky blue persuasion are on the same wavelength - tuned into victory.

  7. March 2, 2014  5:48 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Mike Doyle was one of my childhood heroes; he personified everything about being a red-hating Blue! One of my favourite memories of him was seeing him score at the Stretford End in 1970; the first goal in a wonderful 4-1 win for the Blues (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omisBd4RdM0). That game was only marred by the actions of a certain drunken Irishman finishing Glyn Pardoe's career. To this day, I remain convinced that he should have been sent off.

    To all you Blues going to the game, have a great day out and cheer for me. Unfortunately, the finances cannot justify spending over 500 quid on one football game!!

    • March 2, 2014  5:58 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers George - City are favourites for a reason, all it requires is the right mentality on the day and our football can do the talking.

  8. March 2, 2014  7:02 am by Graham Ward Reply

    Just go out and win the game, City.....man for man, we are the better team, but a victory needs to be earned. Hopefully everything else will take care of itself, but what a boost EVERYONE will get, especially Paul, if we do the little things a bit better than Sunderland, and win that trophy.
    Come on, City!

    • March 2, 2014  7:48 am by David Walker Reply

      Logical - let's do it. Thanks Graham.

  9. March 2, 2014  7:23 am by Ed Reply

    We have waited 38 years for this, time to finish the job.

    • March 2, 2014  7:49 am by David Walker Reply

      It is all about symbolism but, more down to earth, winning a match & a trophy. COME ON CITY!

  10. March 2, 2014  11:37 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    No real blue could have read your piece with completely dry eyes. I hope Pellegrini pins a copy on the changing room wall.

    But today is about business and a business which City are better at than Sunderland. If we match 'the Mackums' for endeavour we will win.

    • March 3, 2014  5:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      And the lesson is...don't read Read Butr Never Red if you're peeling onions!

      Cheers TT.

  11. March 2, 2014  12:06 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    Pellegrini & Kompany are showing the focus that proves there is not a single complacent bone in the City camp.

    We have the desire and skill, now it's time for the team to do the job on the pitch!

    Come on City!

    • March 3, 2014  6:46 am by David Walker Reply

      And thank goodness we did just that with 3 world class goals. One in the trophy room let's hope for at least one more, preferably two this season, but the 'quadruple' is asking too much.

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