FA braces itself for the Manchester invasion

During liverpool's glory, glory years, Kenny Dalglish used to refer to Wembley as "Anfield South". Next month, as three clubs from within a 20-mile radius of each other head to London for the FA Cup semi-finals, it will become "Greater Manchester South".

Some 100,000 fans from the two Manchester clubs and Bolton Wanderers will descend on London for the semi-finals and, although Stoke lies 50 miles to the south, its supporters too are likely to use the same rail line.

The FA will meet tomorrow to decide on the scheduling of both games. Semi-finals at the new Wembley, which is contracted to stage these fixtures until 2036, have tended to start at 5pm or 5.15pm on Saturday with a 4pm kick-off time on Sunday.

The showdown between United and City is likely to be staged on Saturday, 16 April, to avoid the London Marathon the following day and the prospect of fans from City, United and Liverpool – who are at Arsenal on the Sunday – converging at Euston Station.

And it is Euston that symbolises the absurdity of a Wembley semi-final. If the 5.15pm match finishes in 90 minutes, there will be two trains available with a combined capacity of 878 seats, of which 290 are first class. With extra-time and penalties, there will be one scheduled train service that will get supporters back to Manchester Piccadilly. It leaves Marylebone at 10pm and arrives, via a couple of changes at Birmingham, 12 hours and 39 minutes later.

However, Virgin, which runs the West Coast franchise, said it has already received requests to hire charter trains while extra relief trains could be put on, depending on the availability of crew and rolling stock.

An FA spokesperson said: "The fact two teams are coming down from Manchester does pose different circumstances, but we deal with different issues like this on a regular basis. We are not expecting huge problems or issues over this. We will also be talking to rail transport providers who will be bringing fans from Manchester."

The Metropolitan Police will have a major say on what day the all-Manchester semi-final, the first since 1926, will be held, but they are fully prepared for the influx of thousands of fans. "We deal with football matches – FA Cup semi-finals and final, internationals – all the time," said a spokesman.

For those in Manchester's sky blue half who are emerging from the shadow cast by Old Trafford, it scarcely matters where they face United. Every player in Roberto Mancini's squad is aware of the banner on Old Trafford's Stretford End that season by season ticks over the years Manchester City have gone trophy-less. It stands at 35.

"It spurs us on," said Micah Richards, whose header at Eastlands against Reading set up the semi-final meeting. "But we have a good squad now and it would be nice to be part of a team that pulls it down one day. We have players coming back from injury in Nigel de Jong, Adam Johnson and James Milner. We are going to need them, although we still feel we can do something this year."

After their first-leg defeat by Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League, the FA Cup may be the only realistic route to silverware. "Playing United makes it special but it would have been even more special had it been the final," said Richards. "But at least we know that if we beat United there is a really good chance we could win it."

Richards embraced Mancini after the goal, a make-up after the defeat in Kiev that had ended with a dressing-room row about the quality of City's defending in the Lobanovsky Stadium.

"I have always said that since Mancini's been here, he's been good to me," said Richards. "He has given me a chance from day one and he is still playing me. Having been here so long and having come through the academy, it did feel really nice to score such an important goal."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album