Playing away – Manchester City

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Pete from popped over, ahead of Sunday’s Latics v Man City game, for a virtual brew this week and took the chance to ask me some questions.  In return I got the chance to try and get closure on some old wounds.

How do?  I should warn you that I’ve still not recovered from some earlier jostling between Latics and City and that might slip out later on, but I’m not bitter about it, honestly.

But we’ll start off with an easy one.  In the words of Benny and Bjorn “it’s a rich man’s world” are you happy with City’s place in it and do you think they are progressing to plan?

I think it would be difficult not to be happy with City’s place. People make a lot of the amount of money spent and say that we shouldn’t spend so much on players but this has happened throughout football for years and will continue to do so. I think the blues are making good headway at the moment. Last season we only lost two games against top four opposition, won three and drew three and we’ve already beaten Liverpool convincingly.

But there’s a long way to go before we get to where we want to be and the majority of City fans are waiting patiently. If we can progress further this year, we’ll be happy. Personally, I just want to reach a cup final. I’ve not seen the blues in a cup final since 1981.

Our manager claims that City have the best squad of individuals in the division, but you haven’t got off to the best of starts.  Is it a case of the team needing time to gel together, or do you think that something is missing?

Every team needs time to gel. Last season we got off to a great start and it seemed to be down to Adebayor. When Van Persie got him suspended we seemed to fall apart a little. I think the new players need time to understand how Mancini wants them to play and after all the publicity surrounding the club, there must be something in their minds wondering if the Italian will still be there at the end of the season.

We have the players, all we need now is a little consistency and to be prepared to get properly stuck in physically. Get that bit right and we’ll be sorted.

At the risk of winding a few people up, some of our fans would try to place us alongside teams like Sunderland and Blackburn who City have come up short against this season.  I assume that you don’t see that happening on Sunday, but how exactly do you see Wigan Athletic’s place in the world?

Sunderland was a bit of a shock and Blackburn was annoying but you get these results in football. A few years ago, these wouldn’t get mentioned but now its big news. I see Wigan as a little better than those two, mainly because Sunderland are managed by Steve Bruce and Blackburn by Sam Allardyce, two managers I really can’t stand. I think with a little investment Wigan could challenge for Europe in a couple of years.

And how do you see Sunday’s game going?

Wigan away. I hate this fixture and it could go anywhere. I’d like to say we could emulate Chelsea but there’s no way that’s going to happen. We only ever score six away at Burnley. We got a good result on Thursday night in Salzburg so we should be fired up for it. I can see us winning as much as I can see us losing. But I’m going to stick my neck on the line (and get ready for all the abuse form Latics fans) and say City to win 2-0. Mark Lawrenson also has us down for the same result so I’m not alone.

Right, I can’t keep a lid on it any longer.  The “hand of Goat”, are you ready to issue a full diplomatic apology yet?

Ha ha. I’m going to take the Arsene Wenger approach here and say I didn’t see it. I had to work that night so wasn’t at the game. I just saw the result and it wasn’t until the next day that I heard of the incident. I think we had a great deal of luck throughout the three play-off games but I think the ‘Hand of Goat’ has now been settled by the fact we have failed to win at Wigan since you arrived in the Premiership.

Fair point, but exactly “where were you when you were sh*t?”

For many years we’ve offered nothing to the fans but we’ve still turned up in our droves. Enduring a season in the third tier of English football was soul destroying, especially when you consider what was happening in Stretford.

That season was frustrating. We went to Burnley and hammered them 6-0 but couldn’t score at home to Northampton. Work that one out. But in terms of loyalty, our fans deserve some measure of success. Whether we get it or not is a different matter. I’ve supported City almost since I could talk but everyone around me was a Streford Rangers fan and I’ve had to listen to their cr*p for years.

But I watched City in the old second division destroy Huddersfield Town 10-1 then a few weeks later, get battered by Shrewsbury at home yet we still turn up to watch it happen. The thing about City fans is, ask almost anyone about those days and they will remember them like it was yesterday.

Pity we can’t say the same about more Latics fans.  Finally, what do you see as success for both our clubs this season?  And how do you think that we’ll both measure up to it?

Last season a top six finish defined success for us. That was the target set last summer. We were (and still are) a team in transition so to finish fifth exceeded that. I think a top four finish or a trophy (or both) would make blues fans happy. We’re not title material yet so I’m not expecting a first place finish or anything.

As for Wigan I don’t think relegation is an issue and I think the team will be in the Premiership for a long while yet (but I hope Bolton go). I think, considering the start you have made, mid table and a good run in the FA Cup.

Thanks for your time Pete, If you give me some warning I’ll make sure I’ve baked a cake next time you come over.  Good luck for the rest of the season, but I suspect City will need that a lot less than we will.

No problem. You’re at our place next so I’ll put a buffet on

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