Cup runs could leave City playing two games a week EVERY week

7th March 2011

If City continue to progress in the FA Cup and Europa League then they’re likely to have to play twice a week every week until the end of the season. The league games against Tottenham and Stoke would need to be moved to accommodate cup games with the only available slots being around Wednesday 20 April for Spurs and Wednesday 11 May for Stoke.

Having not played in a cup final since 1981, City could face the ridiculous situation of having to play two before the final league game at Bolton! A replay against Reading could leave City playing three games in one week.

Here’s the potential fixture pile-up:

Thursday 10 March
Europa League: Dynamo Kiev v City

Sunday 13 March
FA Cup: City v Reading

Thursday 17 March
Europa League: City v Dynamo Kiev

Sunday 20 March
Premier League: Chelsea v City

Saturday 26 March
Internationals: eg. Wales v England

Tuesday 29 March
Internationals: eg. England v Ghana

Sunday 3 April
Premier League: City v Sunderland

Thursday 7 April
Europa League quarter-final 1st leg

Monday 11 April
Premier League: Liverpool v City

Thursday 14 April
Europa League quarter-final 2nd leg

Saturday or Sunday 16/17 April
FA Cup semi-final

Moves to midweek: City v Tottenham

Monday 25 April
Premier League: Blackburn v City

Thursday 28 April
Europa League semi-final 1st leg

Sunday 1 May
Premier League: City v West Ham

Thursday 5 May
Europa League semi-final 2nd leg

Saturday 7 May
Premier League: Everton v City

Saturday 14 May
FA Cup final

Moves to midweek: City v Stoke

Wednesday 18 May
Europa League final

Sunday 22 May
Premier League: Bolton v City

Looking at our last two league performances, City’s chances of finishing in the top four could be wrecked by the fatigue and injuries caused by the cup games. Mancini has spoken about the boost of injured players returning. However logic says that if we continue to play twice a week, then we’re twice as likely to pick up more injuries than by playing once a week.

To keep the side fresh for league games, the manager will have to rotate his squad more heavily than he has of late. That should mean the likes of Jo, Wright-Phillips and Boyata starting more games, particularly in the Europa League. Youngsters like Guidetti, Razak and Wabara should also be brought in.

With nine league games and a maximum of eleven cup games to go, there’s a case for saying Mancini should be playing almost entirely different sides, as shown below.

League team:
Hart
Richards – Kompany – Lescott – Zabaleta
de Jong – Barry
Silva – Y Toure – Balotelli
Tevez

Cup team:
Hart
Wabara – Boyata – Boateng – Kolarov
Vieira – M Johnson
Wright-Phillips/Jo – Milner – A Johnson
Dzeko

It may reduce our chances of winning the Europa League but the difficulty of Premier League matches this season, where every side is capable of getting a result, makes it essential.

Martin O’Neill once fielded a weakened side in the latter stages of the Europa League when he felt there was a chance of Villa qualifying for the Champions League. He missed out was widely criticised. Mancini may have to make the same gamble.

Fans may crave a trophy, but our business model requires Champions League qualification. If he secures a Champions League place, Mancini is likely to be our manager next season. If he misses out, then his job prospects are a lot less secure, regardless of whether he wins some silverware.

Note: Fixture lists available here:
Premier League
Europa League
FA Cup
Internationals

5 Responses to “Cup runs could leave City playing two games a week EVERY week”

  1. Jem says:

    This is what we have always wanted, our season being alive and roaring towards the end of the season. What you complaining for? Although I do think the F.A. cup winner should get a champions league place to revitalise the competition instead of 4th in the league. As things are its unfair that 4th, we are talking 4th, in the league is more important than winning the F.A. cup, something aint right with that.

    • Blue Days says:

      Hi Jem, I’m not against being in Cups at the end of the season. Quite the contrary! I am against the bloated nature of the Europa League – it’s far too many games for a cup competition.

      My fear is that it could cost us a Champions League place if Mancini doesn’t rotate more. I agree that giving the winners of the FA Cup a place in the Champions League would liven it up a bit, though I wouldn’t give one to the runner-up if the winners had already qualified.

      The winners of the Europa League should get one too, without it coming off their country’s allocation. It’s the least the winners deserve for slogging through the thing.

  2. HeavyRiffs says:

    @Jem
    Agree with your sentiments, but would you like to see the likes of Portsmouth or Birmingham in the CL? No disrespect to those teams, but 4th spot over a long old season, is more of an achievement in my book, just a thought.

  3. Jem says:

    I agree with both of you. But lets face it if there was a C.L. place for the F.A. cup Portsmouth wouldn’t win it as the big boys (now us, isn’t that cool) would be going all out to win, at least until their place in league was secure. And if they did win it after playing against the best that was thrown at them, well then they deserve to be there. Europa league is way too long for what you get. Mind you I’m from Dublin so if we are going to win it, pleeeeease make it be this year.

    • Chris says:

      It’s also possible to make a small argument that some teams are better suited to a cup knock-out system than a league (e.g. an attacking side who offer 2 wins and a loss in every 3 games will leave you higher in a league but also knock you out of a cup, when compared to a less attacking side who offers a single win and and 2 draws (assuming winning cup ties on away goals/pens )).

      Besides, if the prize is a cup competition, what better way to qualify than a cup competition. At least then the ‘Champions’ League would involve more champions of something.

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