City Of Manchester StadiumOur Away Fans Views feature has laid dormant for a while, but when Ric from Manchester City site Bluemoon contacted us for an interview – which you can read here – I figured we should get him to return the favour;

Thoughts on the draw? Are Leeds United a team you’ve missed playing since our impressive freefalling exploits?

I was pleased when the draw was made. Without wanting to sound condescending, Leeds are a “proper” club and will bring a great away following which should make for a decent atmosphere (obviously having home advantage was an additional bonus). Despite the historical antipathy between the two clubs, I’d like to see Leeds back in the top flight where they belong.

It’s hard to rule anything out after last season, but the gap between yourselves and Manchester United looks a little too much now – is the title race effectively over and will that make the FA Cup more of a priority for City than it perhaps was previously?

Saturday’s abject display at Southampton effectively ended our title challenge, and the F.A. Cup is now our only chance of silverware. As such it probably does take on greater significance for the club now, but we’ve always treated the F.A. Cup seriously under Mancini.

Mancini has promised to make changes following that disappointing result at the weekend so what kind of team are you expecting him to field on Sunday?

It’s difficult to predict what sort of team we’ll put out on Sunday. Mancini vowed to make changes but he won’t jeopardise our chances of progressing just to make a point. At a guess, I’d expect us to line-up something like this: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Barry, Yaya Toure, Silva, Milner, Dzeko, Aguero.

Any youth players in your ranks you’d recommend for a loan spell at Elland Road? Preferably a winger, or two…

Mancini’s aversion to wingers means we don’t really have many wide players, even in the youth team. Denis Suarez and Marco Lopez are both promising attacking midfielders though, and would benefit from a loan spell in the Championship as their first team opportunities are restricted at the moment.

I’m already missing Mario Balotelli’s antics, how did City fans react to his sale? Was it a mistake?

Balotelli was popular amongst City fans who enjoyed his eccentricities, and he was an important member of the title winning squad (getting the vital assist for Aguero’s injury time winner against QPR). However, his performances waned this season and he looked increasingly like he couldn’t be arsed being here, so some of the goodwill evaporated. It was a shame to see him leave as he never really fulfilled his potential in England, but it was the right move for both parties.

The press are starting to speculate on the future of Mancini, are you expecting him to be replaced at the end of the season, and if he is, who would you like to see as his successor?

The main objectives this season were to retain the title, and progress to the knock out stages of the Champions League. We’ve failed on both counts, so pressure is mounting on Mancini. I’m keen for him to succeed, as I’d prefer to see continuity and stability at the club, and am eternally grateful for his achievements over the past two seasons. However, it’s looking increasingly likely that he will move on at the end of the season, with a return to his native Italy the most likely scenario. He has cut an increasingly dejected figure of late, and is making some bizarre team selections and tactical changes. His man-management, questionable at the best of times, is more fractious than ever with Mancini publicly questioning the ability and desire of his players who, in turn, are responding with a series of abject displays.

In terms of his replacement, Guardiola would’ve been the ideal candidate but is obviously no longer available. I’m not convinced the club will be keen on Mourinho, because of the baggage he brings with him, and Jurgen Klopp has effectively ruled himself out. After that there are no obvious candidates that spring to mind. Michael Laudrup would be a decent outside bet, but I’m not convinced he’s a better manager than Mancini.

Must have been nice to end that “30 years” chant Manchester United fans used to combine with their love for Leeds? Have they made up a new chant for you yet?

It was certainly nice to see the “rolling” 35 years banner ripped down from the Stretford End, but our neighbours remain a bit obsessed by us, spending as much time singing about City as their own team. Obviously our recent successes have rendered the inspired “35 years… f**k all” chant a bit irrelevant, so now they just resort to making stuff up about our attendances. Bless them.

How do you respond to criticism from opposition fans who say City have bought their success? Is there an alternative way to be successful in modern football?

All the teams that have achieved success in the Premiership era have done so by investing heavily. City are no different in that respect, indeed it’s the only way you can compete at the top level. The days where a few astute signings, coupled with a decent youth policy, can win you the league are long gone. There seems to be a bit of misconception that teams like United and Arsenal do things the “right” way, conveniently ignoring the huge amounts of money they’ve spent on players over the years. City are just playing catch up.

Finally, what’s your prediction for the match?

It will be a hard fought game, but City should have too much quality and win by a couple of goals. I’ll go for 3-1.