Wigan ended City’s Quadruple Dream, not Barca
Anyone who decided not to risk their money at the bookies by betting on a Man City quadruple will have been surprised by the team which ended it.
March 10th, 2014
As Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini came under fire from critics simply by saying he “would try” for a four-trophy haul with his team – a simple statement of desire rather than a vow to dominate the football world as so many of his detractors claimed at the time – City’s grip on reality was tightened only further as they cruised to the League Cup final and duly dispatched Sunderland to lift the first trophy of the season. With a place in the FA Cup quarter finals also assured against last year’s conquerors Wigan Athletic and the small matter of a last-16 tie in the Champions League on the agenda, it’d be easy to forgive them for any league slip-ups.
Fortunately for City, these weren’t forthcoming either – as basically the only thing keeping them off top spot is the amount of games they need to have played to be there; a maximum return from their three games in hand will put them there or thereabouts with Chelsea once their schedule settles back from all these darn cup ties.
But – but! – trailing 2-0 in the first leg to Barcelona, and with an exceedingly difficult task awaiting them at the Nou Camp, you can’t be blamed for assuming City would at least stroll through Spanish customs with that final four spot in the FA Cup locked down.
Sadly for Pellegrini’s overly competitive squad, and happily for those lazy TV pundits whose well-thumbed books of clichés are thoroughly worn out by now, the postman didn’t manage to get Wigan’s copies of The Script delivered to them in time.
It took nerve, it took determination and it took the kind of northern grit that keeps the snow at bay every winter, but let the records show that Man City’s quadruple hopes in the year 2014 were ended by Wigan Athletic, not Barcelona.
True enough, a Lionel Messi penalty at the Etihad loosened the lid on that difficult jar, as did a typically cool Dani Alves finish later on – but the Latics were the ones who managed to open it; looking every inch the FA Cup holders they are with some steely heroics and, further to writing their name in the history books (which DID arrive last May unlike that script), adding a definitive underline to their efforts.
So as Wigan look into booking a Megabus down Wembley Way, don’t feel too derisive of Manuel Pellegrini and his incredible team; their only crime was trying.
Could Barcelona do it on a wet Tuesday night at the DW Stadium? Absolutely they could; but that’s not Wigan’s problem. They’re heading back to Wembley to do it all over again instead.