If it’s possible to look beyond Arsenal v Chelsea as the game of Round 4 of the Capital One Cup, the clash between Newcastle and Manchester City has a plausible case for being similarly regarded. No question the outcome will have more impact on the respective managers than Wenger or Mourinho.
It was noticeable during the international break that Newcastle`s under-fire Alan Pardew admitted that he has tried to persuade Joe Kinnear to talk owner Mike Ashley into funding a team-strengthening initiative. Alan also had a little bite at `the hand that feeds` the club when he said that the club owner did not understand the vagaries of football. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall when the two met up again afterwards.
Pardew`s only significant signing this campaign was the on-loan deal that brought in Loic Remy and the manager pointed out the difficulty of recruiting the kind of players the Magpies wanted, `flair players`, because they are such a rare commodity and consequently were at a premium in terms of availability and cost. He didn`t mention that when trying to bring in foreign players, which seems to be a significant feature of his policy, being unable to offer a chance of Champions League qualification, let alone participation, was a massive negative point.
Manuel Pellegrini has no such difficulties, having a bottomless cache of money available to him at Manchester City, plus the avenue into Europe`s premier club competition as an additional carrot. Qualification is almost assured on a seasonal basis, which puts them ahead of Newcastle, but nowhere near actually adding the Champions League to the FA Cup and Premier League wins of recent seasons. Nevertheless being just a handful of games from completing the set of domestic honours is a massive incentive for City to maintain the momentum achieved in the last three years. And because of the strength in depth available at the Etihad squad rotation, when it comes to domestic club football, is going to be less detrimental, especially as that depth doesn`t diminish in quality.
The Capital One Cup Round 4 clash represents a must-win game for Pardew. But the result may just depend on something the manager has little control over after his players cross the white line. It`s an age old adage that when it comes to knock-out football it all boils down to the team that, on the day, is most up for the cup. You can call it old fashioned or part of our football culture but with such a cosmopolitan make up of current domestic football clubs the latter is less likely. If the approach of both teams is directly appropriate to the manager then attitude and application is paramount.
For Newcastle and City the Capital One Cup offers a massive opportunity to bring home some silverware. For the home side it offers a tantalising chance to break a trophy duck that stretches back to the days when black and white wasn`t just the colour of the team shirts. It was 1969 when Bobby Moncur lifted the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, predecessor of the UEFA Cup which then became the Europa Cup/League.
Alan Pardew has also come out and reigned against the boardroom edict that winning a trophy is second fiddle to staying on the Premier League, he certainly doesn`t mind ruffling a few `suit` feathers does he? Maybe that is the case but try pointing that out to a Magpies fan if they win the Capital One Cup in a few months time.
For Manchester City the Capital One Cup, should Pellegrini so wish, represents a similar opportunity to inject some silverware into the quest for another Premier League success or even Champions League credibility.
It will be interesting to see the respective team sheets on the night and as the game unfolds which of the two teams are up for it.
If they both are it promises to be some game.
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