It’s not been a great few days for City, has it? Thursday’s result in Ukraine leaves us with a rather large mountain to climb in terms of Europa League progression. The performance wasn’t good enough and we lost to a side that turned up and outplayed us on the night.
Whilst it’s not impossible that we’ll turn the tie around at home, it is perhaps more sensible for the fans to be focussing their trophy dreams elsewhere. With any lingering hope of winning the league long since gone, that leaves us with just one more winnable trophy – The FA Cup. And what a chance we now have to seal a place in the semi-final of that competition.
On Sunday City entertain Championship side Reading in the quarter-final, with The Blues looking to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1981. There was an obvious sense of relief amongst City supporters when we knew we’d be facing the stripey Southerners and not Everton in the quarter-final. I, like many, initially fell into the trap of thinking it was as close to a guarenteed trip to Wembley as you could get. But the closer we get to the game, the more nervous I feel. Not because I don’t think we’ll win, but because in my life I’ve grown depressingly accustomed to watching City shoot themselves in the foot. It’s hard to move away from that gut feeling that things will go wrong. The confidence I felt when the tie was finalised has been replaced by a slightly uneasy feeling, the nagging thought at the back of mind being, “We can’t mess this one up, can we?”.
Well, we’d be wise to take Reading seriously. We’re only playing them because they caused an upset in an away game against a Premier League side in the last round. They did it last season too – they are no strangers to winning as underdogs.
I won’t claim to be an expert on The Royals but what I will expect is that they will come to us with no fear. And why shouldn’t they? All the pressure is on City. We could talk about tiredness and injury problems but truth is we shouldn’t be needing any excuses tomorrow.
My hopes are pinned on a couple of first-half goals to settle any nerves. I’m also hoping for a good attendance and a proper big-match atmosphere. Put the disappointment of Thursday behind us and let’s get behind the players – we might just be on the cusp of finally ending the trophyless era.