Whilst many will argue that Manchester City were slightly unfortunate to lose to Wigan Athletic in their recent FA Cup tie, the overriding fact is that Wigan scored and City didn’t.
However the game pans out it is difficult to make a case for the losing team ever being deserving of victory. The simple truth about football, which should be a very simple game, is that the team which scores the most goals wins.
Manchester City, runaway leaders of the Premier League, played their first choice eleven from the available players. They were up against a team who are two divisions below them and fighting for promotion. In a David and Goliath encounter such as this one, good or bad luck should play no part.
Yes, it is true that Wigan raised their game, a fact which must be very annoying for their fans and manager who will wonder how their team can beat the Premier League’s best one minute then struggle against teams at their own level the next. But even if their game was raised, there is still no way it should have been anywhere near the level of the Premier League leaders!
In fairness, they did win their next game, which was against fellow wannabe giant-killers Rochdale, 1-0 with a less than convincing performance against a team 21 places BELOW them in the first division.
City, on the other hand, bounced back from their defeat by beating an abject Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final.
Pep Guardiola is trying to get his team to play at a consistent level for the whole game in every game. It is an impossible task but he knows if he can get anywhere near the perfection he craves then his team will win many more games than they lose, a fact he is proving this season.
It is likely that he has used the Wigan defeat as a reminder to his players of what can happen when your levels drop. OK, the players can point to missed chances and bad luck as their excuses for losing the game but it is doubtful Pep accepts any of that nonsense.
The plain fact of the matter is that they were beaten by a team who should never have beaten them. City should have been good enough to score six against Wigan and, on the night, they weren’t. That is the lack of consistency Guardiola fears because, if such a performance were to happen in the Champion’s League, then there is a very good chance that City would be out of the competition.
Even in the first half, against Arsenal, City were lethargic and only led at half-time because Arsenal were worse. The second half brought the real Manchester City to the field and their two additional goals came in a few minutes of fast and exciting football which other teams find difficult to counter.
In his post-match interviews, Guardiola gave a clue as to what had been discussed in the changing room at half-time when he said that City, on their first half performance would win nothing but have a chance if they can maintain a higher level of consistency which, in the second half, they did.
So the Wigan loss, while undoubtedly a painful one because the FA Cup is a very important part of the “real” quadruple or treble, was a reminder of what can happen if a top team doesn’t treat EVERY competitive game with the same respect because, whatever anybody says, Manchester City expected just to turn up and beat Wigan and so did the majority of other people in football land.
The fact that they didn’t may just have been a contributing factor in their Carabao Cup final win against Arsenal.