The Province

Saints big underdogs in Cup final vs. City

Relegation-threatened Sunderland faces powerhouse Manchester City at Wembley

- Bob Lenarduzzi Bob Lenarduzzi is president of Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Season tickets for 2014 are on sale now. Visit to www.whitecapsf­

Manchester City and Sunderland play in Sunday’s League Cup final at Wembley, and City are the obvious favourites. Sunderland boss Gus Poyet even fears his team could even be embarrasse­d if they play as poorly as they did in their recent 4-1 loss to Arsenal.

Sunderland though have enjoyed some success against City, including winning their last four home encounters with the Citizens. And City haven’t been in the greatest form of late, having failed to score in three of their last five games.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini is hoping the return of top scorer Sergio Aguero will help, as the Argentine sniper is nearly recovered from a hamstring injury. If City win as expected, it will be Pellegrini’s first trophy at the club, in a season in which they were expected to win multiple trophies. That might remove a little bit of the sting of his team’s 2-0 home loss to Barcelona in the Champions League. But only a little bit.

Young guns

In the Premier League, one of the more notable games has Liverpool visiting ninth-place Southampto­n on Saturday.

Southampto­n have a good young squad and are definitely looking to the future. Striker Jay Rodriguez and midfielder Adam Lallana are enjoying breakout seasons, and both were named to England this week for an upcoming friendly with Denmark. Also getting the call for the first time is 18-year-old Southampto­n left back Luke Shaw.

The Saints made an interestin­g move this week by bringing in former NHL coach Ralph Krueger, who joins the club in an unspecifie­d management capacity. The German-born Kreuger most recently worked as a consultant helping Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team win gold at Sochi. He has no experience in soccer, so it’s not clear what he’ll be doing at Southampto­n. He apparently does motivation­al speaking, so that could be part of it. Derby days

Real Madrid are flying high, and now face crosstown rivals Atletico in a key derby showdown on Sunday. Real have moved top of the table in Spain after rivals Barcelona and Atletico both lost last weekend.

Everything is going Real’s way after a crushing 6-1 victory away versus Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday. The attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were unstoppabl­e in that game, and the three have combined for 46 goals in La Liga this season.

Real seem to be hitting their peak at the right time. Atletico, meanwhile, are in a bit of a decline and were recently swept by Real in both legs of the Spanish Cup.

Atletico did manage to finally end their long derby jinx by beating Real 1-0 back in September, but can they do it again? If they do, it would be the first time they have swept their rivals in the league since 1951. Long memories

The last time Sunderland were in a League Cup final was 1985 when they lost 1-0 to Norwich City. The key moment in the game was a mistake by 18-year-old Sunderland defender David Corner, who was only on the squad because team captain Shaun Elliott was suspended.

On the play, the local youngster was near the corner flag trying to shepherd the ball into touch, when he was dispossess­ed by a Norwich attacker, leading to the game’s only goal. Corner was blamed for the loss, and that one error haunted him for the rest of his career and beyond!

Three decades later, Corner still lives and works in his hometown as a member of the Sunderland police force. He’s easily recognized by his bright orange hair, and says that hardly a week goes by where somebody doesn’t remind him that he should have just kicked the ball out of play.

Once while on the job, he responded to a police incident where a man was angrily waving a sword. When the man recognized Corner, he put down the sword and surrendere­d, because he thought the former player was due some luck. He then asked him, “but, Davie lad, why didn’t you just put it out?”

 ?? — DAVID CANNON/ALLSPORT FILES ?? David Corner is shown in 1985, when a play during the League Cup final haunted him the rest of his career.
— DAVID CANNON/ALLSPORT FILES David Corner is shown in 1985, when a play during the League Cup final haunted him the rest of his career.
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