The Thursday Preview: Manchester City Vs Reading

Posted by on Mar 10, 2011 in The Thursday Preview | 2 Comments
Tony Book, The Kippax, King of the Kippax, Mike and Nicky Summerbee, Claremont Road, The Clarence, the Platt Lane End, Paul Lake’s Knee, those bananas, “and all the runs that Kinky makes are blinding”, 2-0 down with 5 minutes to go against Gillingham at Wembley, “Manchester…la la la”, Blue moon, red and black stripes, Górnik Zabrze, FIVE-ONE, the repartee of Peter Swales, Denis Law’s Old Trafford goal, Dennis Tueart’s overhead, Steve Daley, Bert Trautmann’s neck, “after all, you’re my Alan Ball”.

They are gone now and in their place is a counterfeit Manchester City; ripped asunder from its Moss Side roots and plonked like a spaceship from District 9 on the wintry plains of Eastlands. The only similarity between the old and new is the lack of trophies. Citizens will still argue that in that respect, it’s still the same club, but like Faust, the grip on their own soul is tenuous now. That grotesque duel with Spurs for the “achievement” of finishing in fourth place last Spring illustrates that.

A drawback of our Thursday Preview series is that a club can sometimes be in action between our putting pen to paper and the occasion itself. A gruelling trip to Kiev will presumably have an influence on Sunday’s encounter and Reading may distil hope from the suggestion that Roberto Mancini may “do a Houllier”.

But City’s squad represents a cornucopia of talent and even a weakened eleven will be fearsome. Champions League qualification is by no means a certainty, so the FA Cup remains important – Carlos Tevez in particular can be well nigh unplayable and a doubt over Matt Mills following his early exit from the action at Portman Road on Tuesday will harm the Royals’ chances of repeating their defensive heroics from Goodison.

Reading come into the game in good form – tanning Middlesbrough’s hide in a five star display at the weekend and then effortlessly cruising to victory at Ipswich. Shane Long continues his astonishing scoring streak and Mikele Leigertwood has been patrolling the midfield like a minesweeper – he crucially missed early February’s dip in form after being inexplicably docked three matches despite not being sent off at Cardiff.

Tactically, Reading may line up with a 4-4-2 that may in reality be a 4-5-1 but they can be expected to attack as much as City will allow. Two previous cup ties in the north  west have finished in draws only for the Mancunians to make hay back in Berkshire – 7-0 in 1968 and 4-0 in 1993 – and I was at Elm Park for the latter as Niall Quinn rose majestically to nod in a Steve Lomas cross. I rather expect a similar outcome this time and feel Reading have a good chance of entering the draw for the semi finals, albeit in either/or mode.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

1 Comment

  1. Lanterne Rouge
    March 10, 2011

    I appreciate your comments which were very well put indeed. As a primarily Football League focused website, our natural concentration is on the smaller club.

    I certainly do not dispute how wonderful Man City fans are – as good as any around infact – nobody forgets those huge crowds when they were in the third tier. I spent three happy years at university watching the team at Maine Road – very happy days.

    But there has to be a question mark among City fans as to whether this is the same club that they owe their loyalty to – Jô is hardly a cut price option when he cost an initial 6 million – double what Reading have ever paid for a player. Obviously you are quite right to show loyalty and to get behind the team but I know many City fans are rueful and would perhaps rather have achieved success without the big budgets.

    But without being churlish – good luck tonight. I know that Mancini has fully respected the FA Cup but feel he may be forced into changes by the arduousness of the trip to the Ukraine. It would be good to see Michael Johnson feature if he is at all near readiness.

    Reply

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