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Published on March 9th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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The one time an Uwe Rosler moment was hard to take

I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Uwe Rosler quite well, over the last few years. He’s a man I admire on so many levels. He was a wholehearted player, who played with passion and drive, and while not the greatest striker I’ve seen in the Sky Blue of Manchester City, he wrung the best out of his abilities. I’ve seen him away from the cameras too, very much in love with his wife and family.

We know too about his battle with cancer, being given days to live, and with City fans singing his name down the phone, he not only found a way to survive, but he used his recovery period to study coaching. Having done his apprenticeship at Brentford he’s galvanised Wigan Athletic into a promotion chasing team in the Championship, and of course his team is Wembley bound in the FA Cup, thanks to their 2-1 win against City at the Etihad Stadium.

Hats off to Uwe, he got his tactics just right and had made some observations from City’s recent slow starts against Watford and Sunderland, and right from the off they looked hungry and played without fear.

However, as much as Rosler and Wigan got it right, City’s team selection, for an FACup quarter final, a competition they could have gone on to win, left me scratching my head.

I wrote a blog after the stuttering performance at Blackburn, in an earlier round, it was called “Are City as good without the Super Eight?” – here’s a bit of what I wrote,

“I think, at this stage, there are too many players on the fringes of the first eleven, who are a significant step down in quality. I’m not going to name names, you’ll have your own opinions, and I’ve got mine. They might be one and the same, but I believe that every member of the squad wants to climb onto that top step, but some are not on it, yet. That’s why we see a different level of performance, in fixtures like this.

In my opinion, the really big players are, Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Silva and Aguero. When all eight play, City are awesome. When it’s down to six, they’re not quite as good, the lower the number, the more the level drops.

The team that started against Blackburn included just two of those eight. There is a perception that City’s squad has two players of equal quality for each position. I believe City have a great squad of players, but I don’t believe there are twenty two of equal quality.”

That was back in January, here we are in March, City started the game against Wigan with three of the “Super Eight” – Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero. I asked Manuel Pellegrini if Kompany and Zabaleta had been rested for the Champions League trip to Barcelona. He answered with, “No not at all, they had played midweek Internationals”, yet Samir Nasri told me a few minutes later, that maybe the team had not been as sharp as usual, because some of the players, like him, HADN’T played in midweek.

Maybe my “Super Eight” argument is too simplistic, but even though, officially players weren’t being rested for Barcelona, that’s how it felt.

I know the game in the Nou Camp isn’t a dead rubber, but the odds of City pulling off an amazing victory, by a two goal margin, are slim. Surely getting in a banker, by first beating Wigan to leave the Blues 180 minutes from another Trophy, would have meant City could have gone to Barcelona with truly no fear. Now, a defeat there would mean City would be out of two Cups in four days, and suddenly, lying nine points adrift of Chelsea, a win at Hull City would essential, and then probably at Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and United too.

This has been a great season to be a Blue, League Cup success, goals galore, great entertaining football, sell outs at the Etihad, a new state-of-the-art training centre almost complete, the EDS team flying, and I for one love every moment of every game, every interaction with my fellow Blues, the best fans in the Land and in all the World, but with the expectation levels so high, my fear is that this season, which promised so much, might ultimately be summed up as an anticlimax; potential not quite fulfilled. It’s not over yet, and City could yet be heading for the Champions League Final and/or the Premier League title, but those two aims will not be achieved if City play as they did against Wigan, or by starting games with less that 50% of the “Super Eight”.

Next stop, Barcelona, and maybe, the greatest night in City’s recent European History. I’m lucky enough to be flying out with the team, and will be presenting Blue Tuesday on BBC Radio Manchester, from a studio in the Catalunyan City, I’ll be joined by Shaun Goater, a group of City fans based in Barcelona and a Spanish journalist who covers City games in England.

On match day I’ll bring you news of the press conference in our Breakfast show with Allan Beswick, and of course from 7pm the buildup to full match commentary on the game with “the Goat” live inside to the Nou Camp.

I can’t wait, I’m sure the atmosphere there will be memorable, and whatever the result, the City fans will have a great trip I’m sure.

If you’re going, see you on La Ramblas!

– Ian Cheeseman

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