Manchester City and Wigan face each other later today in the FA Cup final. The pair has enjoyed contrasting fortunes this season.
Manchester City challenged for the Premier League title as expected, but fell just short of their relentless neighbours Manchester United.
While their opponents Wigan have endured another season of struggling at the bottom of the Premier League table.
In fact, you could even say that this cup final is an unwanted distraction for the Latics, with a crucial Premier League game coming up on Tuesday night.
This is very much a case of sheikhs vs. paupers. Manchester City has had the fortune of having hundreds of millions of pounds to spend on players, courtesy of their oil-rich owner Sheikh Mansour. The money spent has already brought in trophies and will probably carry on doing so in the future.
In contrast, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has been a very shrewd operator in the transfer market to bring in players that have so far been good enough to keep Wigan in the Premier League, so far that is.
Martinez’s work on a shoestring budget has attracted interest from elsewhere in his managerial services. In previous summers, the Spaniard has attracted the interest of Aston Villa and Liverpool. His performance in keeping Wigan in the top flight, while playing passing football, has now attracted the interest of Everton.
The Toffee’s will be without a manager on July 1st, when David Moyes leaves to join Manchester United to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. Martinez had been the favourite for the job for a good while, but he is starting to slip in the betting, after declaring he would not make a decision on his future until the summer.
The speculation must be an unwanted distraction, but it seems that the move would interest the Spaniard. The move to Goodison Park may become even more enticing if the Latics lose their battle for survival.
The FA Cup final really is not Wigan’s priority. It may be a good day out for the fans, as the Latic’s have never made it to the FA Cup final. However, it is impossible for the fans and players not to be thinking about the crunch trip to Arsenal on Tuesday night in the Premier League.
Tuesday night’s clash is a must-win game for the Latics, but they will find it difficult to win against an Arsenal team still looking to secure Champions League football for next season. The Latics have performed miracles in surviving the drop in the last few seasons, but this could be one too many relegation battle for the Latic’s.
Although at the start of the season the FA Cup would not have been top of Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini’s wishlist it is always nice to claim silverware. Prior to Mancini’s arrival at Eastland’s trophies were in short supply at City.
Under Roberto Mancini, City has claimed silverware in the previous two seasons. Last season the Citizens claimed the Premier League title and the season before that they won the FA Cup.
Speculation in the media has grown in the last few days that Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini could replace the Italian in the City dugout. Mancini has done a decent job at City and it seems that the majority of City fans want the Italian to stay at the club.
I think it would be harsh on the Italian if he were to be sacked this summer, especially with Manchester United set to be in a transition season under new boss David Moyes. Surely Mancini should be given another season?
It is hard to see any other outcome than a Manchester City victory at Wembley. The Citizens will not want to end the season without a trophy and the FA Cup final is the perfect opportunity for City to continue winning silverware.
Had Wigan already been safe from the drop then I believe they would make this game more of a priority. However, with Premier League survival at risk, I am sure that this game will take a backseat to Tuesday’s game.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez claims that his teams focus is fully on the FA Cup final. However, that is hard to believe with Wigan so precariously placed in the Premier League table. I would not back against a Wigan win, but they certainly head into the game as major underdogs.
Who will win the FA Cup final?