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Know Your Opponent: An Interview With Ric Turner From Bluemoon

For two completely different sets of reasons, fans of both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have endured something of an emotional rollercoaster this season. Here's how Sunday's opposition see things going into this tie.

Alex Livesey

Ric Turner has been running the fantastic Bluemoon site, which incorporates a forum, a news outlet and a blog, since 2001. I caught up with him to discuss his views, hopes and concerns in advance of City's journey to the Lane on Sunday, a game in which more than pride is on the line for both teams.


EF: Before we kick this all off, I just have to ask you: on a scale of bemused to completely outraged, how do you feel about Matija Nastasic not making the PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist?

RT: Ha, I'd say I'm more bemused than outraged. It is, of course, plainly ridiculous that Nastasic hasn't made the shortlist when Jack Wilshere (with 20 league appearances) and Danny Welbeck (with one league goal) have. Not sure if it's bias towards Arsenal and Manchester United, or just towards English players but I won't lose any sleep over it. I imagine most right thinking football fans can see the absurdity in the decision. Bale will rightly win it regardless. Nastasic, however, is a tremendous prospect, and clearly underrated by many.

EF: As things stand, City are sitting second in the League despite a largely strong League campaign by any team's standards. The side look to have the runner-up spot nailed down, and could very well add another title to the cabinet with awin in the FA Cup final. What are your feelings about the way this season has panned out, and your thoughts for the short and medium-term future of City, going in to this game?

RT: If we win the cup final, then a trophy and second place finish should represent a highly successful season for most clubs. City have had such a paucity of success over the years that it seems arrogant to suggest otherwise. However, with the squad we have then the failure to defend our title, coupled with another disappointing show in Europe, mean that it's tinged with disappointment. I'll take it of course, though. Regardless, there remain question marks over the future of Roberto Mancini, justified or not, and I think this summer will represent a significant watershed in the future of the club. If Mancini retains his job then his position is unquestionably strengthened; if not it demonstrates the power wielded by Begiristain and Soriano.

EF: What is your favourite-ever memory from this tie in the past?

RT: Unquestionably the 4-3 F.A. Cup win at White Hart Lane in 2004. Not just because we were pretty shit at the time, but to win any game having been been 3-0 behind at half time is a significant achievement. The fact that we were away from home, with 10 men, makes it all the more memorable. A stunning game, from a City perspective at least.

EF: The last time these two teams met, Tottenham and their fans were in something of a dark place, misery that City merely compounded for us on the day. What lessons should Roberto Mancini take away from the win at the Etihad?

RT: I don't think Mancini will read too much into the game in November. Tottenham were clearly in a transitional period at the time, and we still required a late winner to secure the win. I think we'll draw confidence from the fact that we've won the last four games against Spurs, but I'm not convinced that will necessarily impact on the result. The game is probably more important to Spurs, in terms of the race for fourth (we conceded the title some time ago).

EF: It goes without saying that Spurs will need to find a way to cope with Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez to get any sort of result on Sunday. Where else do you see the key battles taking place in this game?

RT: If, as seems likely, Lennon and Bale are passed fit then our full backs will need to be on their game. We'll surely go with Zabaleta and Clichy, and they are as well equipped as any to deal with your wide threat. Dembele looks a class act in midfield, so Barry and Toure will need to win the physical battle in the middle of the park. It's a relief that Sandro isn't playing, as I rate him highly.

EF: Do you think Mancini will have any special plan to deal with Tottenham's width if Bale and Lennon are back in the side for this game, then?

RT: As mentioned, I have great faith in our full backs (Clichy and Zabaleta). I'd go as far as to say I genuinely wouldn't swap them for any other full back pairing in the league. Bale clearly requires special attention as he is an exceptional talent, so Milner is a certainty to start to help nullify his threat.

EF: Emmanuel Adebayor should be back in the starting lineup this weekend. What sort of reception do you think he'll get from the travelling fans?

RT: There isn't great animosity to Adebayor from the City fans; certainly not on the scale of your North London rivals. It's more just a feeling that he is a bit of a lazy, half-arsed sod who only turns it on when needed (usually when his contract is up for renewal, or against a previous team). As such, he'll probably bag a hatrick on Sunday. Having said that, his (somewhat ironic) comments about us lacking mental fortitude won't have gone down well.

EF: Looking past the game, a more general question to round things off: Tottenham and City are generally credited as the two teams that broke the hegemony of the League's top-four teams and established in it's place what's sometimes termed the ‘Sky Six' (United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs). How do you forsee the power relations between these sides shifting over the seasons to come?

RT: The "Fair Play" rules (and I use that term loosely) will clearly cement the hegemony of the top clubs, and as such it's impossible to see any other club breaking into that six now for the foreseeable future, which I think is to the great detriment of the game. It's effectively a cartel, and I think it's shameful that it's being passed off (by the clubs who support it, and the media) as being an altrusitic measure, when anyone with any common sense can see that it is designed purely out of self-interest from the bigger clubs. In terms of power shifts, it's hard to see United, City or Chelsea dropping out of the top three for the foreseeable future, so fourth spot will be fiercely contested between yourselves, Liverpool and Arsenal for the next few years.

EF: Finally, what is your score prediction?

RT: It's a difficult one to call. City have done well in the big games recently, and will draw confidence from the 5-1 at White Hart Lane last season, but we looked extremely lethargic on Wednesday night against Wigan. It's perhaps inevitable that the wins over United and Chelsea will have taken their toll, but there's a danger in the City camp that minds will start drifting towards the Cup Final and the proverbial foot will be taken off the pedal. Spurs, on the other hand, have everything to play for and will be bolstered by the return of Bale, Lennon and Defoe (if reports are to be believed). I suppose though you could argue that the added pressure could act as a hniderance rather than anincentive. On that bombshell, I'll remain firmly on the fence and back a draw. 2-2.