COMING up against Manchester City can hardly be described as any other game for Uwe Rosler.
But the Wigan Athletic manager is determined that preparation for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final tie will be as normal as is possible.
Rosler – a City legend from his playing days – has not yet been to the Etihad as an opposition player or manager.
All that will change on Sunday afternoon, when Latics face City in a rematch of last season’s FA Cup final.
Latics, of course, famously won that day, thanks to Ben Watson’s late header – a goal that has been replayed in virtually every household in Wigan on a daily basis ever since.
Rosler admits he’ll be running the rule over that game as part of his meticulous preparation for the weekend. But he is determined to keep things as ‘normal’ as can be.
“It’s very important that we prepare as normal as possible,” said the German.
“If we started doing things that we would not normally do, the players would sense that.
“In my experience, the more normal your approach, the more chance you have of getting something from the game.
“Yes we will be watching parts of last year’s cup final as part of our preparation.
“But we will also be watching more recent City games such as Watford and Stoke, to give us an overall view.”
Rosler admits his initial reaction to the draw wasn’t particularly favourable.
But he feels the cup holders have a chance of repeating their Wembley heroics – as long as they do it their own way.
“When I heard the draw, my first impression was not good,” Rosler recognised.
“Our chances decreased with the fact we play Manchester City away from home.
“Personally, I still want to go to the final again, but to do that we have a massive mountain to climb.
“This club showed 10 months ago that is possible, and it can happen again. We must find our own way to do that, we have to be ourselves. A copy is never as good as the original.”
He continued: “We have as much confidence as is possible for a side going to play Manchester City.
“The squad is looking in a strong state, we have a number of players coming back from injury.
“We have had two weeks where we have not had to contend with a midweek game, and that has allowed us to refresh certain players and build up certain others.
“We have a very challenging period coming up, starting with Sunday, but we want to be competitive and successful in both competitions.”
Rosler will inevitably be a central figure in the build-up, given his obvious ties with City.
But he has tried to deflect as much focus as possible back on to his players, who are 90 minutes away from booking a fourth trip to Wembley in the space of 12 months.
“I would like to say again that this game is not all about Uwe Rosler,” he insisted.
“It is about Wigan Athletic playing Manchester City, and the focus should all be about the players.
“We have done so well in getting this far – it’s only the third time football club has ever reached the quarter-finals – and there should be recognition for the players.
“In saying that, I can’t deny my past, and I don’t want to deny my past.
“I have never hidden the fact I have a very emotional bond to Manchester City.
“But I would also like to highlight the fact that I am very happy and extremely privileged to be the manager of Wigan Athletic – the current FA Cup holders.
“To combine both will be a challenge. As me after the game how I have coped with it. But if I know myself as well as I know myself, I think I will be okay.”
That said, Rosler admits City will always occupy a special part of his heart after the support he received during his successful battle against cancer over a decade ago.
“The way the club and the supporters supported me during my illness and my recovery, I will never forget that,” he added.
“At that time, it was all about surviving.
“I just wanted to stay healthy. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.
“Now, 11 years later, I will be going back with my Wigan Athletic team and I couldn’t be prouder.”