Saturday’s uneven and un-inspirational FA Cup performance versus Stoke confirms many of the fears supporters had about playing without either Carlos Tevez or Craig Bellamy. Both will be unavailable for tomorrow’s league clash with the same Potters, but cup tied Adam Johnson will be available.
Without Johnson in the lineup, City struggled for attacking link up play behind the strikers, and Stephan Ireland’s run of poor form continued despite his mouthing off about Mark Hughes during the week.
City’s recent FA Cup History has seldom if ever seen such a poor later round performance at Eastlands. While disastrous cup ties have taken place in the early rounds of both the FA and League Cups (most recently City’s embarrassing performance under Hughes versus Nottingham Forest last year), most poor Cup efforts such as the 2007 Quarterfinal rout at the hands of Blackburn have come away from home.
Roberto Mancini is now learning first hand about the grind of English football and fixture congestion. Often times his Inter Milan teams began to fade down the stretch of the Serie A campaign, sometimes allowing its title rivals to sense a collapse. While Mancini’s 2007 and 2008 Inter teams did win the Serie A title, their were wobbly stretches of football in February and March.
City’s FA Cup and Champions League qualification ambitions demand that these wobbles be minimized.