training, tactics and take aways

We’re off to Wembley in the morning to watch City play Sunderland in the Carling (League Cup) Final – and as every football fan knows (and probably fans of most other sports as well) it’s not enough to have the best players, fine managers, superb training facilities, sports scientists, nutritionists, physios and the like – all of that is useful but it doesn’t win games and it most certainly doesn’t win Cup Finals.

What really counts, what really makes a difference and what really carries your team over the line is the microscopic attention to ritual and detail avoiding doing what you did that time your team got beat and being certain to do just exactly what you did when your team won – that’s how life is in the often enchanted but frequently myopic world of the football fan.

And its for that reason we found ourselves having a calorie laden tea at the chip shop near The Etihad stadium where we go on match days … and on the eve of the games at Wembley in the semi final against Man Utd, the final against Stoke, the Charity Shield game against Man Utd, the semi final against Chelsea and the final against Wigan. So you see if we had not called there tonight who knows what impact that would have had on the team?

But that’s not enough – we’ve also had to replicate the whole kit and caboodle of snacks and so on (even if we don’t want them) and they have to be supplied partly by my wife and partly by Becky (who I will be picking up at 06:30 in the morning) … and it gets even more complicated because Becky has to pack the picnic and the contents have to be the same blah, blah, blah.

So there we have it – yes Sergio Aguerro may come on and score and of course YaYa Toure may dominate the midfield and the rest of the team of all-stars may well play their part – if we win it’s because tens of thousands of City fans at the game, in pubs and at home will each be following their own time-honoured rituals. I hope we have all done it right – and trust me the above is the simplified version it can get a lot more complicated than that – so for example I’ve not had fish on any of the previous pre Wembley chip shop visits, and if that makes you question my adherence to tradition – well the rules of the ritual allow certain times to change an order and as this is the first time for the League Cup final in this sequence I could pretty much have what I wanted. Interestingly and to get right into a bit of detail the quality of the chips (freshness) normally has a direct bearing on the quality of the games and number of goals – tonight’s fish and chips were first class and that bodes well (and before you ask yes the chips were a little sub standard when we played Barcelona the other week (really) and as an aside I chose a pretty romantic spot for us to sit in the car and eat them – a quiet road looking onto the new Etihad Campus development.

But on the downside (for me at least) I know for sure that tens of thousands of Sunderland fans are doing exactly the same thing …