Football can be very unpredictable.
It is the nature of the game. If that was not the case, lovers of the game who stake their hard-earned money on the outcome of matches would be among the world’s richest. But it seems it is rather those on the other side of the table that enjoy that benefit. That is as a result of the game’s unpredictability.
Upsets happen every day, provided enough matches are played. Some of the biggest clubs have fallen victim at different times. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and even Manchester City have all experienced such upsets.
So they are not the exclusive preserve of any team. Sometimes they can be really cruel. At other times they simply do not make any sense. Yet, they happen. Man City have had their own fair share in the past. Maybe even more than the club deserves. But it comes with the territory.
What is more important is the present and the future. Since ADUG took over the club, the team has experienced a complete change in fortunes. Not only has the investment in the club levelled the playing field with other top clubs, top-notch management has given City an edge. The result can be seen in the success achieved over the last decade.
Our history is what it is, we cannot change that. But our present and future outlook are much brighter. We cannot continue to feel sorry for ourselves and keep expecting to fail. No. Things have changed now. It is our turn to reign and we must make the best of our time.
We need to renew our minds to synchronise with the times. Once upon a time we lost unbelievable games. Some of our past results have been nothing short of incredible.
After struggling in the 1970s and 1980s with nothing to show for all the effort, City lost 1-0 to lower league side Notts County in the FA Cup during the 1990/91 season when the Blues were favorites to win the trophy.
In the 1994/95 season the team suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the League Cup and later succumbed 3-1 to Newcastle in the quarter-final of the FA Cup as well.
League Cup defeats to Lincoln City and Blackpool in 1996/97 rank up there among the biggest upsets. But City also lost at Doncaster in 2005, Chesterfield in 2006 and Brighton in 2008. That sounds terrible, except that the most successful clubs in England Manchester United and Liverpool have had their own fair share of failures too.
A quick look at the Red Devils' history of upsets reveals some of the following.
- In 2011, Manchester United lost the League Cup Quarter Final 1-2 to Crystal Palace.
- In 2015, Manchester United were knocked out of the League Cup round four by Middlesbrough.
- Norwich City bundled out the Red Devils from the FA Cup with a 2-1 victory in 1967.
- Southend humbled the Premier League side 1-0 in the fourth round of the League Cup in 2006.
If you think that must be the worst defeat our cross-town rivals ever suffered, wait…
- The Red Devils lost 0-3 to York at Old Trafford in the second round of the League Cup in 1995. The result was so bad that despite winning the return leg 3-1 United crashed out 4-3 on aggregate.
In case that was not shocking enough for you, all of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville started the game. Want more? Here we go.
- FA Cup holders United were beaten 2-0 in the third round by Bournemouth in 1984.
The upset was so shocking that then Bournemouth manager Harry Redknapp declared after the game:
“It’s got to be the greatest day of my life, and I’m sure it’s the greatest day of all the players’ lives”.
- Bristol City humbled a Jose Mourinho-tutored United 2-1 in 2017. The lineup featured a front three of Marcus Rashford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial who were later joined by Romelu Lukaku. Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player at the time, played the full match in midfield.
- Another shocker we will cover here was United’s 4-0 loss to MK Dons in the League Cup second round - 2014
Of course, there are more. And certainly time will not permit us to reel out Liverpool’s list.
The point? This is part of the game. It should not shape any team’s image.
Manchester City is a new team now different from the old City and we need to come to terms with that. Now that things have changed for the better for us, we should learn to enjoy our good fortune even if in humility.
It is true that in those days, if anyone said City would one day compete for a quadruple, it’d be like a scene from Back to the Future 3. But those days are gone. The times have changed and we cannot remain stuck in the past.
And if the media continues to associate quadruples with us season after season we can see that as a compliment rather than as an opportunity to laugh at us. After all, our team is deserving of it.
We may end up achieving it one day like we did with the domestic treble (making history in the process). But even if we don’t, who cares?
The very fact that Man City is now associated with quadruples shows just how much things have changed. We can embrace the new reality rather hold on to the distant past. Why choose to identify more with an unfavourable past than a favourable present and future anyway?
As it stands, our team is recreating our history.
We owe no one an apology for our current successes and the ones to come. That’s not arrogance. That’s pride in the badge! It’s just like patriotism to one’s country.
It can be the new City way.
Just as the club has been transformed in the last 13 years, as fans we may need to take a second look at how we see our club. That can also affect how others see us and treat us.