x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

First cup is the sweetest, insists Manchester City coach

David Platt cites local rivals as an example of how one trophy can lead to many more.

Manchester // As a former England captain, one of the country's most successful footballing exports and one of the game's more eloquent thinkers, David Platt has developed a theory about silverware.

As a player, he won it for four different clubs, besides reaching the semi-finals of both the World Cup and the European Championships on international duty.

His conclusion is simple: the first trophy matters most.

As Manchester City's first-team coach, Platt hopes to end the 35-year wait in today's FA Cup final against Stoke.

Delving into history, he believes the precedents are encouraging. The most famous is elsewhere in Manchester: months after some supporters were calling for his head, Sir Alex Ferguson lifted the FA Cup in 1990 to trigger an era of astonishing success.

Said Platt: "It's been well-documented about Manchester United and what they won and then went on to achieve. But it's not just them. Go back to Nottingham Forest and ask Brian Clough what was the most important trophy and it wasn't the two European Cups, it was the League Cup in 1977. His first one. Why? Because he felt that it gave his group of players a winning mentality."

Platt's relationship, both personal and professional, with Roberto Mancini goes back to their shared time at Sampdoria.

After their paths diverged, the Italian went on to win Serie A three times as Inter manager. But, Platt said, "You ask Roberto what's the most important cup he won at Inter and he will tell you it was the first Italian Cup they won."

He is aware that City's long drought has preyed on the minds of the club's fans.

"You only have to go around the place and the supporters are coming to you and talking to you and that 35 years keeps getting mentioned," he said. "We talk about ending that wait and '2011 FA Cup winners' would sound nice and stay there forever.

"For the supporters that becomes a major issue and quite rightly. But if we were to win, I hope - and don't think - it would be another 35 years before we win another trophy.

"The goal is to win more trophies, but you have to win the first one. Given everything people are saying about the first trophy they win, it has huge importance."

A trophy, too, brings a tangible reward that Champions League qualification, no matter how significant, does not.

"When I went to Italy, the first trophy I won was the Uefa Cup at Juventus," Platt said.

"The club gave us a replica Uefa Cup. You wanted that. I won the Italian Cup with Sampdoria and we had replica ones.

"I came back and won the double with Arsenal and had replica ones made of that, too. They sit there. It's more than just a medal. They are miniatures of what you've won but they are big enough and heavy enough."

Heavy enough to end the weight of three decades of expectation and, perhaps, to set City on the road to further silverware.

 

sports@thenational.ae