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Man City Reignite Passion for Capital One Cup After 38-Year Absence from Final

FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 453706157 (L) and 461787467) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Manuel Pellegrini manager of Manchester City  (L) and Sunderland manager Gus Poyet. Manchester City and Sunderland meet in the Capital One Final on March 2,2014 at Wembley Stadium.
***LEFT IMAGE*** WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City manager looks on during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at The Hawthorns on December 4, 2013 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE***  LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Sunderland manager Gus Poyet looks on before the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Sunderland at Craven Cottage on January 11, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

There was a time in the 1970s when Manchester City and the League Cup were inextricably linked.

Between 1970 and 1976, City appeared in three finals, winning two of them and becoming synonymous with a trophy that was first launched in 1960.

City's inaugural League Cup win came in 1970 when they beat West Brom 2-1 on an awful pitch at Wembley. Jeff Astle gave Albion an early lead, only for Mike Doyle—who went on to captain the club with distinction—to equalise and send the match into extra-time. Glynn Pardoe hit City's winner as their love affair with the trophy began.

City's line-up that day is like a who's who of their most important ex-players, as they secured their third major trophy in three seasons.

Managed by the great Joe Mercer, who had delivered the title in '68 and the FA Cup in '69, City's XI included Tony Book, Tommy Booth, Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee, Francis Lee and, of course, the inspirational Doyle. It was a memorable season for City, who also won the European Cup Winners' Cup six weeks later.

This was a golden age for the team from Maine Road.

They returned to the final four years later but were beaten 2-1 by Wolverhampton Wanderers after a late John Richards goal won it for the Midlanders. Bell had equalised for City after Kenny Hibbitt's opener, but there was to be no repeat of the Wembley party of four years earlier. 

It was a bitter disappointment, but one that would spur them on a couple of years later when they returned for their third League Cup final in six years in what proved to be a classic match now entrenched in football folklore.

With Doyle now captaining the side, and with Joe Royle—who would later return to guide them to two successive promotions as manager—up front, City beat Newcastle 2-1 to lift the trophy once more.

Peter Barnes gave City the lead after a free-kick was headed back across goal by Doyle for the winger to finish. But as was tradition for City in League Cup finals, it was a close match, and Newcastle got back into the game before half-time with a goal from Alan Gowling.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  David Silva of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Im
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

But one of the most famous goals in the history of the old Wembley stadium won it for City when Dennis Tueart scored a magnificent overhead kick. It was a glorious moment that will forever be remembered by the City fans.

However, it turned out to be City's last appearance in the final. Sunday's match with Sunderland will bring to an end a 38-year absence from the showpiece event that for a short but wonderful few years was a big part of City's most successful period.

City have an opportunity to reignite their love for the League Cup. Can Vincent Kompany follow in the footsteps of Mike Doyle and bring the historic, three-handled trophy back to Manchester?

 

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_

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