Alex Bonner looks back at Sunday’s Capital One Cup final, assessing the significance of the match for both victors Manchester City and defeated finalists Sunderland.
Manchester City overcame a resurgent Sunderland side to claim the Capital One Cup, providing Manuel Pellegrini with his first trophy on English soil.
Second-half goals from Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas secured City’s first league cup since 1976, after Fabio Borini had given Sunderland a first-half lead. The result, a 3–1 victory for City, will surely provide the team with a much needed boost which could prove significant in the title race, particularly as the season is now approaching its final stages.
Though Sunderland performed admirably throughout, deservedly leading at half–time courtesy of a Borini strike after 10 minutes of play, City’s quality, in all departments of the field, proved too much for Sunderland over the 90 minutes, with creative midfielder Nasri, in particular, having a superb game.
However, Sunderland’s battling performance will give them additional confidence when tackling their remaining Premier League fixtures, especially following a cup run that has seen them beat the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. But this sparkling cup form will need to be transferred into the remaining league games in order for Sunderland to have any chance of avoiding the drop.
The Black Cats have three winnable games coming up, meaning their performance in Sunday’s final could give them the necessary belief to stage a winning run. This should see them eventually avoiding the pitfall that is relegation to the Championship.
The Capital One Cup was not top of Pellegrini’s list of priorities when he was appointed as Roberto Mancini’s replacement as Manchester City manager in the summer. However, the fact that Pellegrini has gone on to claim his first trophy in England will undoubtedly prove significant, enabling him to make a statement that could prove pivotal in the Premier League title race.
This statement could be similar to the one Jose Mourinho made in his first season as Chelsea manager; Mourinho made the League cup a primary target, and went on to win a domestic double in the form of the League cup and Premier League title.
A manager’s first trophy in a new country is always likely to prove significant, especially for a manager like Pellegrini who has suffered from criticisms in the past directed at his relatively small trophy cabinet. City’s players were visibly elated at the full–time whistle, demonstrating how much their victory means to both Pellegrini and his players.
Pellegrini, having claimed his first trophy on English soil, has used this trophy as a means of promoting his team’s chances of achieving an unprecedented quadruple, and with City still in the race for the Premier League title, a quadruple remains an outside possibility for the Chilean. Pellegrini’s confidence has been reaffirmed by some of his players, Nasri in particular agreeing with the aims set by his manager.
To have any chance of taking the quadruple, City must first overcome FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic in their upcoming quarter-final, before preparing for the more daunting task of overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in the Champions League round of 16 three days later.
The difficulty of such a task means that the goal of obtaining the domestic treble will likely prove a more realistic objective for the Manchester club.bookmark me