Black Cats looking to cross City's path
- Sun 01 Jan 2012, 9:16AM
- Posted by David Clayton
With City’s three nearest title challengers mustering just one point between them yesterday, it’s hard to imagine the Blues having a better end to 2011.
There should be no team-talk necessary ahead of today’s trip to Sunderland, with unexpected favours from Blackburn, Aston Villa and Swansea giving City the chance to hit 2012 running – provided victory is achieved at the Stadium of Light.
Hoping to prevent that happening is new Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill, who in today’s Sunday Mirror, reveals he wants to use City’s blueprint to make Sunderland into a force to be reckoned with.
Says O’Neill: “This is really big talk. Wouldn’t it be something to aspire to from a club of the calibre of Sunderland? That would be great. I’m not saying we would ever be in the market for those players (City have bought), but it’s something to aspire to.
"It would be fantastic to make the Stadium of Light a fortress again. When you look at the fixture against City, in terms of a New Year’s resolution, that would be great.
“Manchester City is a game that we look forward to because they have become a ‘glamour’ side now — and it is a big fixture for us. But I’m hoping that, over the course of time, this would be the kind of fixture you would relish.
“The fans’ passion is tremendous. It’s almost as if they’re waiting for something to happen. I think they could carry the team along. Perhaps sometimes they don’t even realise it.”
Sounds like a rallying call if I ever heard of one!
Meanwhile, with plenty of 2011 reviews still around this morning, Duncan White in the Telegraph charts City’s steady ascent in his well-written feature.
He writes: “Last year City arrived, winning the FA Cup, qualifying for the Champions League and setting the pace in the new season. After a brief adolescence they matured as a football team last year (even Mario Balotelli. Well, nearly).
"What 2012 will tell us is just how powerful City have grown.
The Christmas fixtures will have shaken any complacency out of them and acquainted them with the sheer concentration it is going to take to hold off a chasing Manchester United
...What the media says...
“Roberto Mancini has a deep and powerful squad and that internal competition has been one of the driving factors in their impressive 2011.
“What the City manager needs is for those players to sustain that level of competition through until May. The title race will be compelling.”
Indeed it will. Happy New Year and as John Lennon once wrote, let’s hope it’s a good one…