Tuesday, January 19

Head to head: A City fans view

Ahead of tonight's crunch Carling Cup tie at the City of Manchester Stadium, lifelong blue Paul Gardner talks to Reds Away about, hope, expectations and what kind of atmosphere awaits the reds.

I've been supporting City for 35 years at least. The last one I remember was the League Cup final 2-1 against Newcastle in 1976.

The highlight since then has got to be the 1981 FA Cup Final [City lost to Spurs in a replay] and the time we beat United 5-1 in 1989 - and any other time we've beaten United.

There has been more optimism around the club since the new owners took over. Around the ground there's more of a buzz because we've got the best crop of players we've probably had since the 1970s.

And with the players we've got, we do have a lot of potential.

City would prefer to finish in the top four of the league and get in the Champions League but I'm sure the fans would love a day out at Wembley. Doing both would make it a great season.

The Premier League is what people remember.

When you're playing United home and away and the away leg is second, it will be difficult. If it were the other way around I would have more optimism, but you never know with a good home win.

United are a talented bunch of lads regardless of whether it's a first team or reserve team Ferguson puts out. Either way, they have the potential to come away with a 1-0 or 2-0 win.

The atmosphere is getting better at the new ground. It was good at Maine Road and it is taking a bit of time to develop at Eastlands.

I would imagine it's going to add some electric to the atmosphere and I think it would be an even more amazing atmosphere if there's a good scoreline for City.

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