Summerbee hails exceptional Man City side

MANCHESTER - Winning the FA Cup to end a 35-year trophy drought could open the floodgates for a Manchester City side as exceptional as the club's last vintage team, according to former winger Mike Summerbee.

Summerbee, one of the key players during City's glory days in the late 1960s and early 1970s, believes if the current team beat Stoke City in Saturday's final at Wembley it could be the start of a similar golden era.

"If they can win this trophy, when you start to win trophies that's it... things will happen," the 68-year-old told Reuters in an interview at Manchester City's training ground.

"That's what happens when you get momentum going. This is a very important game."

Summerbee, a swashbuckling winger with a fiery temperament, helped the club win four trophies in three seasons, capturing the 1968 league title, 1969 FA Cup, 1970 League Cup and 1970 European Cup Winners' Cup.

"Hopefully this is the start of Manchester City going on to win many trophies as we did," he said. "In 18 months we started winning everything."

City have already enjoyed their best season for many years, securing a top-four finish this week to ensure their highest ever Premier League placing and a place in at least the playoff round of the Champions League.

Being able to offer elite European competition should help the world's richest club attract even more top players according to manager Roberto Mancini. Summerbee thinks that might not be necessary.

"It's not about investment. They've got a lot of quality players here," he said of a team featuring Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure and a host of top international players.

EXCEPTIONAL SIDE

Despite the obvious differences in playing eras, Summerbee said there was something this team had in common with his.

"This is an exceptional side, exceptional players," said Summerbee, whose cross set up the winning goal in the 1969 FA Cup Final. "We were an exceptional side from 1965 to 1975.

"The football today is totally different to our day. Our days was more a physical contact day, now this is a game of pure football and the pitches are beautiful, it was never like that when we were playing."

Now a club ambassador, Summerbee will be travelling to London for Saturday's final and while he is looking forward to an "emotional" day he is annoyed it is being played before the league season is over.

"It's totally rubbish that," he said of the decision to bring the date forward to give Wembley time to prepare to host the May 28 Champions League final.

"It should never be that. When we played, it was the last game of the football season and that was it finished. It's so wrong, it's ridiculous."