Every year the FA Cup throws up a few upsets. And the biggest upset in the third round came at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Nottingham Forest comfortably beat the world’s richest club, Manchester City, by three goals to secure their place in the third round. And it’s a bad omen for City fans as their team’s poor form looks set to continue in 2009.
City’s form has been woefully inconsistent this season. Great Premiership wins against Arsenal and Hull City have been eclipsed by losses at home to Everton and away to bottom-of-the-table West Brom. Manager Mark Hughes will be deeply infuriated with his team’s inability to put together a decent run of results.
Arguably, Manchester City were a better outfit under Sven Goran Eriksson. They had a solid defensive base, with Richard Dunne the main linchpin at the back. But this season, Dunne’s form has dipped and Micah Richards doesn’t look like the player that Chelsea wanted to sign for Ã‚Â£20 million a couple of years ago. The drop in form from both players has culminated in City having one of the leakiest defences in the Premiership.
Even the signing of Vincent Kompany has failed to bolster the defence. And the record Ã‚Â£32.5 million signing of Robinho has also failed to change City’s fortunes. Despite the Brazillian chipping in with 12 goals this season, Manchester City still find themselves languishing in 13th place, with only two points separating them from the relegation zone.
Mark Hughes would have been looking for a good run in the FA Cup with his team looking set to miss out on European place in the league this year.
And despite qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup, they have undoubtedly struggled in the competition. When asked after their 3-0 defeat yesterday if Hughes thought he was still the right man for the job, he replied:
“I know exactly what is needed here.”
With the purchase of Wayne Bridge for Ã‚Â£12 million and the promise of more funds, the owner, Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, clearly still has faith in Hughes’ managerial abilities. However it remains to be seen how long the owners’ patience will last. Following huge investment in the squad, he will expect a better second half to the season. If Hughes fails to deliver, he’s gone.
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