City legend Dickov warns Mancini: Beware banana-skin Barnsley! (and he should know… he helped Oldham KO Liverpool)
it was their first league title in 44 years. Barnsley have been waiting 101 years to build on their single top-level triumph, when they won the FA Cup in 1912.
Barnsley boss David Flitcroft played professional football for Preston, Lincoln, Chester, Rochdale, Macclesfield, Bury, Hyde and Rochdale. City counterpart Roberto Mancini played for Bologna, Sampdoria, Lazio and Leicester.
Barnsley and City were both founded by clergymen. Barnsley were formed as Barnsley St Peter’s in 1887. City started life as St Mark’s in 1880 by the rector at St Mark’s in west Gorton, Rev. Arthur Connell.
‘On TV you know somebody will watch it
and say ‘he can play'. And that has happened with Matt Smith – who
signed a boot deal with Warrior after scoring two against Liverpool –
and I’ve had clubs in touch asking about him after the Cup games.’
Premier League clubs have contacted Dickov about about Smith and he is certain that the same potential opportunities lie ahead for any Barnsley players who shines on the Eastlands stage.
Speaking at his home in Cheshire – with the historic silver trophy on his kitchen table courtesy of FA Cup betting partner William Hill – Dickov revealed that his most inspirational team talks as a player came from Joe Royle during his days at Manchester City.
‘Big Joe Royle was my most inspirational manager with his team talks and he would always say ‘be the best you can’.
‘I told the Oldham lads just that and after I said it to them a couple of times I asked them what they thought it meant.
‘Matt Smith is a bright lad and understood it more than most, but some other lads would say that they had to be man of the match, to put in an outstanding performance, be the best player on the pitch.
‘But with all the relegation pressure on them I wanted to alleviate that and explained what it meant.
‘Essentially, give it everything you have got and nobody will ask any questions of you.
Shock: A brace from Matt Smith sealed Oldham's famous victory against seven-time winners Liverpool
‘I told them ‘be the best you can and have a right good go'.
‘If the Barnsley players do the same it will not be easy for City – I am sure Barnsley will score.
‘When Steve Gerrard and Jamie Carragher
were not in the starting line-up at Boundary Park that was massive for
us, Carra was going mad on the bench. I watched Liverpool against Stoke
and saw how Tony Pullis’ team beat them.
Fond memories: Dickov was in the Arsenal squad that won the FA Cup in 1993
‘But after the game Carra, Gerrard and Brendan Rogers came into the dressing and shook hands with the lads. That was real class and meant a lot.
‘I suspect Manchester City won’t be resting players as they must think that the FA Cup is their one chance of getting silverware this year.
‘So you would like to think Roberto Mancini will play his strongest team.
‘He’ll have to respect Barnsley as they are the biggest banana-skin between City and FA Cup glory.
Vote of confidence: Dickov is sure that Barnsley will score at the Emirates
‘Whatever the Barnsley lads do they will be heroes back home, but I am supporting City but don’t get me wrong I would love Barnsley to get the replay and get another tie at home.
Dickov also has fond memories of the FA Cup from his time as a player: ‘I was just a kid when I got my FA Cup winners medal back in 1993 with Arsenal, but I wasn’t on the pitch.
'I got a League Cup winners medal that same season and a European Cup winners medal the next season as part of the squad.’
Old boy: Dickov was instrumental in City's return to the Premier League after they dropped to the old Division Two
But Dickov’s biggest Wembley moment was scoring the equaliser for Manchester City against Gillingham in the Second Division play-off in 1999 that put the club back on the long road to the top flight.
In the meantime Dickov – who is mulling over his latest job offers – is enjoying his short break out of football and planning a day out to the Cheltenham Gold Cup with one-time room mate from his Derby and Leicester days Robbie Savage – another William Hill sporting ambassador.
William Hill match odds: Manchester City 1/8, Draw, 15/2, Barnsley 18/1