Manchester City fans face an ‘unfortunate’ choice between the men’s and women’s teams on Sunday — all because of a potential Europa League final appearance that hasn’t even materialised.
City Women have their biggest game of the season against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday in the FA Cup final, looking to complete a cup double after a testing season. That final kicks off at 2.30pm, half an hour after Pep Guardiola’s men’s side get under way across London at West Ham in the Premier League — a game that could move them on the brink of another title.
With the West Ham game originally scheduled for a 4.30pm kick off, at least allowing for fans to watch one game on TV if they attended the other, it was moved at the last minute to a 2pm slot instead, directly clashing with the cup final . City Women boss Gareth Taylor says the switch came about as West Ham were banking on an appearance in the Europa League final on Wednesday.
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No Premier League games take place on Saturday due to the men’s FA Cup final, and Taylor says the knock-on effect means many City fans face a difficult choice on Sunday — even with a record-breaking 50,000 crowd expected at Wembley.
“It’s unfortunate, it wasn’t our doing. West Ham men asked for that game to be moved for the Sunday because they anticipated they would be in the competition they were in,” he said.
“Now they’re out, so it’s a shame. I know there’s a lot of supporters that watch both men’s and women’s, unfortunately that’s been taken away again. We had the same when we played the semi-final, we were both in London but the kick-offs were too close for supporters to get across.
“It’s unfortunate but it speaks volumes that we’ve still sold over 50k tickets, it goes to show the interest is really there.
“[The ticket sales] is outstanding, shows the game is moving in the right direction., we played in a final last year which was a different feel with no supporters. So this will be amazing, there’s no better place to see a pretty full Wembley, the atmosphere will be amazing. It’s really nice for players of both teams to be able to celebrate that with their supporters and family.
“It will be fantastic, two good teams going at it, slugging it out, and two teams who’ve shown real quality this season.”
Taylor revealed that City are in good spirits ahead of the final, and will take confidence from their performance against Chelsea in the Continental Cup final this season, and the winning run of 13 victories in a row since that victory.
“It’s gone well, we’ve had a nice build-up,” he said. “The players are in good form, everyone is in a good mood and we’re really looking forward to the game on Sunday. We’re going into it in form but so have Chelsea, they finished the season well. It can sometimes have a relevance, the rhythm and tempo we look for.
“It’s a one-off game and who manages the game on the day, who plays the game and not the occasion. We’ve been there before, in cup finals a lot, so have Chelsea so there’s no real edge for either team. Just the ones who go and perform best of the day will take the trophy home.
“[the Continental Cup final] it was a couple of months ago, it was a game where the girls were amazing, really put us into a confident place where we followed it up with consecutive wins until the final game of the season which was amazing, to credit to the players.
“We want to go win another trophy, we’ve been successful in this trophy previously. Regardless of what happens Sunday we’re really proud of how we finished off the season and we’re moving in the right direction.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.