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Published on January 22nd, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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Wembley here we come!

As I watched City absent-mindedly swot West Ham aside at Upton Park, several thoughts passed through my mind. One was “What is the collective term for bubbles?” I suggested a “Forest of bubbles”, though Fred Eyre countered with a “sink full”. That question had popped into my head as we watched the entrance of the teams through a “insert as appropriate” of bubbles from the touchline.

Yes, that’s right, that was the subject at the front of our minds, as Manchester City entered the field for a major Cup semi-final, just 90 minutes from Wembley. Speaking for myself, this wasn’t arrogance, this was simply dealing with reality. There were no butterflies, nervous tension of “what if it all goes wrong” thoughts running through my mind, bubbles seemed more relevant at that moment. City were 6-0 up from the first leg, and were fielding a strong team, led up front by Aguero and Negredo, arguably the best strike force in the club’s history. I (we) were in new territory, “odds on” favourites and all that.

In a funny sort of way, the lack of “jeopardy” made the game slightly less enjoyable, but a quick backward glance at forty years of losing at home to Mansfield or Bury and a clear memory of an inevitable relegation being confirmed at West Ham, one season, soon brought my mind back to the task in hand, watching City qualify for their first League Cup Final since I was a boy, and that was quite a while ago!

I have to confess that I’d assumed Aguero and Negredo would not start the game, surely they weren’t needed, but this ruthless City team showed total professionalism, and a goal within three minutes snuffed out any doubts there might have been.

Even my mate Charlie had said, before the game, “if West Ham were 3-0 up at half time….” I stopped him there, but I’ll bet many older City fans, who’ve seen it all, still had that thought briefly run through their mind.

There were a couple of worries during the evening. A different referee, on a different night, might have shown Sergio Aguero a red card. I thought his mistimed tackle was worth yellow, but I’ve seen reds flashed after those types of incidents. Alvaro Negredo’s late tumble gave him a troubling shoulder problem, clearly not a dislocation, but a worry, none-the-less. Could City have made it through while wrapping Aguero and Negredo in cotton wool ; probably, no definitely!

Marcos Lopes did very well. I interviewed him after the game and his down-to-earth reaction was very impressive, heaping praise on his mentor Patrick Viera.

Stevan Jovetic’s cameo was encouraging, and Jack Rodwell’s too. Let’s hope their injury worries will soon be consigned to history, just like my memories of being relegated at West Ham, after this 9-0 aggregate win. Even though it was 5am before I reached my bed, I slept better after this game than after that 2-0 defeat at Upton Park in May 1987, when City went down after just 2 wins in the last 18 games of that season. Oh how times have changed.

Kevin Keegan was a fascinating guest on Blue Tuesday, offering this nugget of advice to aspiring manager Shaun Goater “don’t nail the furniture down in your office!”

If you missed messrs Keegan and Goater, you missed a treat, but you can download the podcast via bbc.co.uk/radiomanchester

– Ian Cheeseman

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