NEWCASTLE UTD v MAN CITY – Costel’s lucky number 13?

Having suffered painful  Premier League ‘executions’ on Sunday, both Newcastle United and Manchester City will fight to avoid further ‘Capital’ punishment when they battle for solace and secondary silverware tonight.

Cruelly denied a share of the spoils against Sunderland and Chelsea respectively – more so City than the Toon – this clash of the last 16 in the Capital One Cup, affords both clubs an opportunity to exorcise the demons and frustrations of Premier League ‘injustice’.

The fact that they will undertake their task with just a small percentage of the players who kicked off proceedings at the Stadium of Light and Stamford Bridge is largely irrelevant, that is unless you’re called Costel Pantilimon.

Call for Costel - Could City's giant Romanian keeper be about to get his big chance?

Call for Costel – Could City’s giant Romanian keeper be about to get his big chance?

The 26-year old Romanian international, now in his third season with City, has yet to make an appearance in the top flight of the English game. His First XI playing time has thus far been limited to a dozen domestic cup appearances.

An accomplished showing tonight – win, lose or draw – in his 13th senior City game, could see Pantilimon propelled into Premier League action against Norwich on Saturday as Manuel Pellegrini finally runs out of patience with Joe Hart.

City’s undisputed pick between the sticks for the past three seasons, Hart has endured the most difficult period of his, hitherto, highly accomplished and hugely successful career.

No go Joe - Could Hart be dropped after a recent dip in form?

No go Joe – Could Hart be dropped after a recent dip in form?

Established as England’s number one keeper, Hart has been the focus of intense scrutiny – some of it sincere, a proportion of it pernicious – following a spate of errors that has seen him concede soft goals for both club and country.

He was never scheduled to play in the tie at St James’ Park, with Pantilimon clearly pencilled in to perform his usual cup duties, but if Costel doesn’t cost City the match tonight, the odds are the towering 6ft 7 inch, 26-year old will keep his place.

It’s a torturous dilemma, if not for Pellegrini, but for City’s fans who have come to adore Hart – an FA Cup winner and Premier League champion – previously regarded as head and shoulders above his peers in the English game.

Manuel decides - who will be City's first choice keeper for the next Premier League game?

Manuel decides – who will be City’s first choice keeper for the next Premier League game?

Rightly regarded as being among the world’s elite corps of keepers alongside Casillas, Neuer, Buffon & Co, it could be Joe needs to take a step back before progressing his career still further. He and his adoring City fans should seek comfort in the sporting pearl of wisdom that ‘form is temporary but class is permanent’.

For different reasons, Joe will not be the only one missing from City’s vanquished team who were so viciously denied at Chelsea.

The Capital One Cup is number four on Pellegrini’s list of silverware priorities, so City will be largely unrecognisable from Sunday. However, one player who would almost certainly have played a part has been ruled out through injury.

Portuguese prodigy Marcos Lopes has ‘tweeted’ the world to say he will be missing out on his second City start.

Recall - Stevan Jovetic should be centre stage at St James' Park tonight

Recall – Stevan Jovetic should be centre stage at St James’ Park tonight

City’s travelling support – complete with oxygen masks, high altitude training and vertigo medication – will not be surprised to see the likes of Jovetic, Dzeko, Lescott, Richards, Rodwell, Boyata, Milner, Navas and, of course Pantilimon, from their lofty perch in the away enclosure at St James’.

Pellegrini is on record as saying – not entirely surprisingly – that he wants City to win every competition they enter…and why not?

On paper, Newcastle are ideal opponents. City have eight straight wins in a run of 14 undefeated outings against the Barcodes – 12 victories and two draws, since Michael Owen hit a United winner in September 2005.

Repeat performance - Jesus Navas scored in the last round of the Capital One Cup for City

Repeat performance – Jesus Navas scored in the last round of the Capital One Cup for City

A 4-0 crushing at the Etihad saw City off to a flyer against Alan Pardew’s depleted team in the opening fixture of this season, but City will be as ‘stupid’ as some of the goals they’ve conceded recently, if they take the threat posed by the Magpies lightly.

The Toon will be keen to restore pride among their fans following the derby day loss to their hated North East rivals. Pardew has a full attacking array from which to select including Loic Remy, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi.

Newcastle’s problems – like City’s – lie in defence with Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor missing as a central pairing.

Logic would suggest a potential goal-fest with creaking defences and well equipped armouries within both the teams.

Edin into the QFs? - Can Dzeko get his goalscoring boots on against Newcastle?

Edin into the QFs? – Can Dzeko get his goalscoring boots on against Newcastle?

Statistics can so easily be rendered redundant on the night, but City have scored in each of their last 13 away fixtures in the generically recognised ‘League’ Cup. The last time they failed was in an ignominious 1-0 defeat at Wigan in November 2002.

Sky blue hearts were lifted just three days later that year when City trounced United 3-1 in the last ever Maine Road derby, when Gary Neville was confirmed as a Blue for his outstanding assist for Shaun Goater’s 99th City goal.

Tonight will be City’s fourth away match on the bounce and a win will take them through to the quarter finals – a point at which even the PL ‘Big Boys’ begin to take this competition seriously, be it called the League, Milk, Littlewoods, Rumbelows, Coca Cola, Worthington, Carling or Capital One Cup.

The only name that really counts is the one engraved as trophy winners on March 2nd 2014. The last time it read Manchester City was in 1976, after a 2-1 win against Newcastle United!

So, irrespective of its past history of Coca Cola, Worthington or Carling, it’d be nice to be able to say ‘same again please barman’ or even barcode by 10pm this evening.


By David Walker







If you would like to vote via twitter please tweet the following message  (Retweets do not count):

I am voting in @TheFBAs for @djwskyblu as the Best #Male Football Blog

Seeking votes - if you want to vote for Read But Never Red in the Football Blogging Awards 2013 via Twitter please tweet: I am voting in @TheFBAs for Best #Male @djwskyblu
Seeking votes – if you want to vote for Read But Never Red in the Football Blogging Awards 2013 via Twitter please tweet: I am voting in @TheFBAs for Best #Male @djwskyblu




  1. October 30, 2013  12:58 pm by Guvnor Reply

    You sound like all the other reporters now Mr Walker, suggesting MP has lost patience with Joe Hart. I for one do not think he has.
    England Englands No1 Englands No1

    • October 30, 2013  1:35 pm by David Walker Reply

      I am observing that MP may well have lost patience. I am not encoursaging or endorsing the barrage of criticism Joe has endured in recent weeks. I hope he is back in the team against Norwich.

  2. October 30, 2013  1:16 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    I, for one, was certainly wavering over Hart's position in the team as far as the PL is concerned. We're lucky this game is one that we all knew Pants was going to start for City.
    On Monday night my view was that the error at Chelsea was the straw that broke the camel's back. Today, my thought is that Norwich may well be the last chance. It's fine pointing out previous excellent performances; it's the here and now that matters.

    • October 30, 2013  1:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      True, we cannot live on past endeavours but I believe Joe will emerge from these difficult times and go on to prove ALL the doubters wrong.

  3. October 30, 2013  1:38 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Still a little depleted from weekend but after a little respite I feel our team will bounce back. We have a fantastic squad and I know they will put their all into every game whoever is picked. Good read once again you always put it into perspective so come on our Boys in Blue a win tonight will put us all back on track.

    • October 30, 2013  2:36 pm by David Walker Reply

      We certainly hope so - we have loftier aspirations beyond the Capital One Cup but if we are going to contest a game we may as well win rather than lose, Thanks. EF

  4. October 30, 2013  5:46 pm by AB Reply

    Good article as ever. As for Saturday, given it is Norwich at home my choice would be to give Hart some extra rest. It will be a tough call and even tougher on how and when to reintroduce him back to the first XI but hey that's what MP is paid the big money for! Tonight would definately like to see Jovetic get some more game time so he can transition and be more effective in the EPL. Also worth a start against Norwich (if fit). Pre-season I watched the team in South Africa. In the game I was at Emyr Huws stood out. I was wondering if you knew anymore about him, doesn't seem to have been loaned out and not featured on any bench so far? Any insights on him? .......Doubt Garcia will be using his photos for a game tonight :)

    • October 30, 2013  8:48 pm by David Walker Reply

      JG's photo album must be awesome - the sole survivor from Sunday. At point of replying Jovetic is off injured after 10 mins, now HT & City about as threatening as a blancmange.

      I don't know much about the young Welsh lad but I know a man who will. Let me come back to you.

      Thanks for reading & commenting & hope you're enjoying life in a place where many of us would like to be.

  5. October 30, 2013  10:28 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    I am typing this at 10.15 while watching the City game :-)

    I do not know the result as I type, however I expect a win.

    City should already have won this trophy in recent years, as you mention, many teams have not taken it seriously, we should have done, particularly in the early Mancini years.

    Silverware is precious and although a FA Cup and Premiership win once seemed an unobtainable dream, City should never take any competition for granted.

    Interestingly on the way home Ian Cheeseman and Fred Eyre were discussing the career of my boyhood hero Joe Corrigan.

    He had a slump in form and after much abuse, returned to become a goalkeeping great and City legend.

    Likewise I would continue with Joe Hart, he is a magnificent goalkeeper, time will prove this to be true.

  6. October 30, 2013  11:57 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    Like most on here I have total belief in Joe, the only question in my mind is what is the best way to bring Joe back on song? Still can't make up my mind whether a 2 week rest even under the cover of a "knock" and speedy reintroduction or taking the harder line with a public dropping? It really depends on Joe's character, remember big Mal slaughtering Buzzer and this brought out the best in him , wouldn't work with people of a different nature. One for the psychologists methinks. Good summary as always Dave!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Pep's potless and Yaya may have a point!

So for the first time as a manager Pep Guardiola, hasn’t won the proverbial ‘pot’ to p*ss in, albeit conventional wisdom has it he would normally drink champagne from trophies won [...]