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Adam Baker

Adam Baker writes

Posted Monday, January 8th 2018

It can be done - Johnson

Twenty different English clubs have attempted to beat Manchester City so far this season – and all have failed.

That number includes all 19 of the Citizens’ Premier League opponents; and some have even had two goes at it. The other club to try and fail was the current runaway Sky Bet Championship leaders Wolves, who managed a draw at the Etihad Stadium in the Carabao Cup fourth round.

The Black Country club lost on penalty kicks, just like Leicester City in the quarter-finals, as Manchester City’s prowess from 12 yards (eight successful spot-kicks from eight from two shoot-outs) helped to secure their doubleheader with Lee Johnson’s side.

So what convinces the City head coach that his players can be the ones to succeed where all others have failed?

Well here’s a little history lesson involving Johnson himself.

Season 2011/12 saw Celtic targeting a domestic treble when they faced Kilmarnock in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden.

No one gave Killie a hope. The bookies certainly didn’t. But Johnson insists inside the dressing room they had belief.

In fact it was the City boss who crossed for the winner; Dieter van Tornhout the recipient of Johnson’s left-wing cross and his header broke green and white hearts in the Scottish capital.

“I think we were priced at something like 18/1 in a two-horse race to lift the trophy and we beat them,” Johnson recalled, in an exclusive BCTV interview.

“The concentration levels it will take to ensure we don’t get infiltrated in our back-line will be huge. In saying that, I do believe in the qualities in our squad and the challenge is to make sure we play our game."

Head coach Lee Johnson

“There’s no doubt we’re an extreme underdog against Manchester City, so it’s very similar to when that Kilmarnock side beat Celtic in the cup final.

“The boys are in credit in this competition. We just have to give it our all. It can be done.

“This tie is obviously played over 180 minutes, so it will only be half-time after Tuesday evening.

“We need to do our best to ensure we stay in the tie coming back to Ashton Gate.”

Lee Johnson was part of the Kilmarnock side that shocked Celtic in 2012

PHENOMENAL EFFORT

He added: “The players have been exceptional so far.

“The effort they’ve demonstrated to beat four Premier League teams en route has been phenomenal.

“Now they find themselves in the semi-finals of a major cup competition and facing the best team in the country right now.

“The concentration levels it will take to ensure we don’t get infiltrated in our back-line will be huge.

“In saying that, I do believe in the qualities in our squad and the challenge is to make sure we play our game.

“We definitely did that against Manchester United in the last round, so that’s a box ticked. Now we have to do it against a side that is used to having up to 85% possession in games.”

EXCLUSIVE BCTV INTERVIEWS