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Saturday January 28, 2006
Manchester City vs Wigan Athletic
Preview | Report | Match Stats   

  Preview
Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce is determined to rip up the `typical City' tag which has dogged the club for so many years. Blues fans tend to glory in their side's notorious inconsistency and though it drove Pearce's predecessor Kevin Keegan to distraction during his early years at the club, even the former England manager had to admit defeat in the end.

A thrilling victory over Manchester United and an equally comprehensive defeat at Bolton in the last fortnight indicates nothing much has changed under Pearce either.

But the man many believe should follow Sven Goran Eriksson into the England hot-seat insists it does not have to be that way. And he won't sleep properly until the attitude changes.

``I don't like the word `typical','' he said. ``Typical means you cannot change it. It is my job to change it and get consistency from the players. ``If you are being critical the problem at the moment is a mental thing. We have to go into every game with the same mentality.

``You always strive for consistency. That is the main thing you look for. ``If you know what your team is going to deliver week in, week out, you can sleep better at night.''

Pearce could also argue massive swings in fortune are only to be expected given the large number of youngsters he is being forced to rely on at present.

Having failed to secure his top choice of transfer targets, it looks increasingly likely City will head into the remainder of the campaign with roughly the same squad that started it. Last weekend's defeat send the Blues tumbling into 10th spot - their lowest position of the entire campaign. And, while it is still a vast improvement on the situation Pearce inherited when he replaced Keegan last March, the odds on landing a UEFA Cup spot through the Premiership are becoming increasingly remote.

The situation just places greater emphasis on tomorrow's FA Cup clash with local rivals Wigan. Pearce needs little reminding City's record in the competition down the years is appalling. Since reaching the final in 1981, the best the Blues have managed is a couple of sixth round appearances, the last of which came 13 years ago.

Blackpool, Brentford, Notts County and Cardiff have all accounted for City in that time, while last year near neighbours Oldham sent them packing. Even in the last round, City flirted with disaster as Scunthorpe snatched a shock half-time lead before Robbie Fowler's hat-trick turned the tie on its head.

Pearce could call on Fowler again tomorrow as the Blues look for a fast start against a Wigan outfit on a high after securing a Carling Cup Final berth but physically drained after ploughing through two lots of extra-time in the past 10 days.

``Certainly in home matches, no matter who it is, we try to get at the opposition early,'' said Pearce. ``But Wigan are up for a fight and they didn't look too tired when they scored that goal at Arsenal the other night.

``Maybe having a cup final in the bag, they might not see it so key but it will mean everything to Paul Jewell on Saturday.'' Far from regarding Wigan as plucky newcomers, Pearce believes the Latics have already proved they will be hanging around the top flight for a few years yet.

It has not escaped his notice either they are just 90 minutes away from following the likes of Bolton and Everton by booking a place in Europe - a situation he wants City to be in by the middle of May.

``Wigan have been a shining example, not just to us, but virtually every club in the country,'' said Pearce. ``Like Bolton and Everton last season, they are an example of what you can achieve if you pull together on a consistent basis.''

 Manchester City Probable Lineup Wigan Athletic 
None None

 Manchester City Injuries Wigan Athletic 
None None

 Manchester City Suspensions Wigan Athletic 
None None

  Asian Handicap  
Manchester City  0 : 0.25  Wigan Athletic

  Fixed Odds  
Manchester City  2  
Draw  3.2  
Wigan Athletic  3.4  

 
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