It’s a huge weekend for… Luton’s police, Rodgers, Mancini and Balotelli
Luton’s police force
It is one of those fixtures that younger fans may not realise holds such fear in the eyes of football authorities and the police, simply due to the financial decline of Luton in recent years. However, many will be aware of the hatred that surrounds Luton v Millwall, two of the game’s hardcore hooligan outfits.
In 1985, also in the FA Cup and at Kenilworth Road, Millwall fans rioted throughout this fixture. Policemen and dogs were forced to deal with a barrage of coins, glass, stones and seats, with the game close to being abandoned on numerous occasions as there were multiple injuries sustained.
Whether or not there is a cup upset or not, let us please see no repeat of the wholesale violence that surrounded that day. It could be the FA Cup’s best magic trick yet.
It really is two steps forward, one step back for Liverpool at the moment, and that’s being a touch generous. The manager seems to be upholding this David Brent-esque vision that everything is well, summed up by his claim that losing 2-0 at Zenit St Petersburg was a ‘near-perfect’ performance.
There was a genuine feeling of expectancy at Anfield on Monday, but it seems that Rodgers’ side are only ever a couple of games away from an inept performance or surprise defeat to sap away the hope on Merseyside. Thanks to their upset at Oldham, Liverpool face Swansea this weekend, Rodgers’ old stomping ground. The Swans’ away form has been poor of late, and Rodgers will demand that his side get back on track.
Interestingly, Rodgers’ win percentage currently sits below that of previous incumbent Kenny Dalglish. Improvements, and more importantly consistency, are much-needed.
You would be well within your rights to question how Bobby Mancini is still in a job. In a league and a game in which patience is rarely utilised, Manchester City have been remarkably patient with their Italian manager. He has spent hundreds of millions on players, and only an extraordinary comeback away from having an FA Cup to show for it.
His tactics have been odd, his signings ridiculous at times and the performance of his side decreased from last season. One of the richest clubs in the world are unlikely to settle for second best, and one could not blame them for doing so.
The FA Cup is all that is left to win, and Mancini will not want any further repeats of last week’s shambolics.
Super Mario may have left these shores, but his is still very much an eventful life. He has played two games in Italy and scored three goals. He has been racially abused by Silvio Berlusconi’s brother and last weekend was subject to monkey chants by supporters of Cagliari and Inter, who were playing hundreds of miles away.
This weekend Balo’s Milan face Fiorentina, who chanted anti-Heysel songs at Juventus last week. All good fun in Italy, isn’t it? Well, no. Let’s just hope that if Balotelli suffers similar abuse this weekend, he will do what he does best and score once more.