Boss braced for another cup battle
- 24 February 2010 10:57
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Roberto Mancini is braced for another aerial bombardment when he sends out a City side to play Stoke for the fourth time since his arrival in December.
The sight of Rory Delap's long throws arrowing in on the City penalty area has become a familiar one over the last two months, and the Potters have proved to be a tough nut to crack in both league and cup encounters.
There is a place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup sponsored by E.On at stake tonight, and the Blues' boss is calling on his team to stand firm and tough it out at the Britannia Stadium.
He told mcfc.co.uk, "We know it's going to be difficult, and a different game to the one against Liverpool. We know all about Stoke's tactics now. There will be many corners and throw-ins and the ball will spend a long time in the air. We'll have to prepare and be ready for how they will approach the game.
"If we put the ball out of play near our goal, we'll know what's coming! But we have played Stoke three times since I came here, we know how they play and we know it's better for us when we play the ball on the ground. Stoke will come hard at us and we have to match them.
We must be more aggressive and start the game quicker than we did last week. We will still be prepared for set-pieces but we have to be prepared to fight for every ball. We will try to play our football, but we have to be prepared to fight all the way.
Mancini's hand will be forced when it comes to selection by a combination of factors. Adam Johnson is cup-tied, Martin Petrov has a knee injury, Patrick Vieira is suspended and Carlos Tevez is on compassionate leave in Argentina. However the return to fitness of Vincent Kompany cancelled out worries over Kolo Toure's slight knee injury last weekend, and defensively the manager has a few more options to choose from.
"In defence we have a lot of choices to make," he added, "if Kolo has come through training OK that's better for us, but we don't have as many in attack. Roque's knee is so-so, which means Emmanuel is our only main striker that is fully fit, but if Roque has trained OK he will be available for the bench at least.
"I would have been happier to already be in the next round after our home game, so Stoke have a better chance. But, it's a different game, and it's the FA Cup. It will be better for us if we can make their fans go quiet early on. We will have to concentrate and play at 100% from the very start."