One of the most successful English football clubs of the current era, Manchester City have won six Premier League titles from the last 11 on offer (as of 2021/22) and they haven’t finished out of the top four since the 2009/10 campaign. But anyone with even a fairly basic knowledge of football will understand, Man City have certainly not enjoyed such success throughout their long history.
Indeed, their fans have had to endure plenty of lean spells when it comes to silverware. It’s also worth noting that for all their recent success in the league, City have perhaps underachieved somewhat when it comes to the FA Cup: they have lifted the cup just twice since 1970. To be fair, they’ve won six of the last 10 League Cups, but that’s not our focus here.
In this article, we’ll explain how Man City have performed in the oldest domestic cup competition in football from when they first entered the tournament in the 1891/92 season to the present day. We’ll look at all their six FA Cup triumphs and who they’ve played against in the 11 finals in which they’ve competed. We’ll also give information about some of their worst FA Cup performances, including that heart-breaking loss in the final of 2013 to massive underdogs Wigan.
When Did Man City Last Win the FA Cup?
Manchester City last won the FA Cup at the end of the 2018/19 season when they battered Watford 6-0 thanks to goals from David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and two apiece from Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling. Under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola, City also won the Premier League (by a single point from Liverpool), giving the club their first and thus far only league and cup double. To be fair to Watford, they hadn’t had a bad season having made the final and finished in 11th spot in the table… a mere 48 points behind City!
FA Cup Finals
As mentioned, Man City have won six FA Cups, putting them level with Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers and behind six other clubs (Aston Villa, Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal). City’s 11 appearances in FA Cup finals again sees them falling behind six other clubs and gives them a win percentage in cup finals of 54.5%. Here’s a summary of what happened in each of the finals in which they have appeared.
|1981||Tottenham Hotspur||Lost||3-2 (in replay, first game 1-1 AET)|
|1904||Bolton Wanderers||Won||1-0 (in replay, first game 2-2)|
Stage of Elimination
Here we’ll take a look at the stage of the cup at which Man City have come a cropper over the years. As you can see from the figures below, City have made it to the quarters or beyond just over 20% of the time, but they’ve stumbled at the third round or fourth round hurdles 45% of the time. As they’ve generally only entered at the third round stage of the competition, this doesn’t look great on paper, but it’s not dissimilar to many of the other clubs who’ve won the FA Cup multiple times.
|Stage||Number of Times||Percentage|
Please note that the percentages are rounded to the nearest percentage point so don’t quite add up to 100% in this case. Note also that the competition format has changed at times and teams from the higher divisions have entered the tournament at different stages of the tournament in the past.
Times Man City Won the FA Cup
City Smashes Watford 6-0 – 2019
We’ve covered City’s 6-0 smashing of Watford in the 2019 FA Cup final above. But now let’s take a look at the other five triumphs they’ve had in this famous old cup.
City Fans Go Potty – 2011
Coming into this final, Manchester City hadn’t won anything much (other than the second tier title in 2001/02) since way back in 1969. As such, given the amount of investment that had gone into the club, they really, really wanted to win this. And that was even more the case having witnessed the number of trophies that had been snaffled up by the red half of Manchester in the previous couple of decades.
It’s fair to say this wasn’t the most convincing victory in terms of the final scoreline, but Tony Pulis’s Stoke were never going to roll over for the favourites. In reality, City bossed the game and had 59% possession and 23 shots (a massive 14 of which were on target). With the likes of Mario Balotelli, David Silva and Yaya Toure amongst their ranks, Roberto Mancini’s men were always likely to prevail.
But given the lack of silverware in the preceding years, and their status as huge favourites, the pressure was on. As it was, Toure’s 74th minute goal was enough to win the cup and arguably to kickstart the modern era of City winning a whole load of other trophies (they won the Premier League for the first time the following season).
Sporadic Triumphs – 1904, 1934, 1956, 1969
As you can see from the table above, the first four times Man City won the FA Cup were spread over the course of 65 years (which is quite a contrast from their last four League Cups that were won in consecutive seasons!). The first triumph came way back in the 1903/04 season when they overcame Bolton Wanderers 1-0 in the final at Crstal Palace. Billy Meredith got the crucial goal that day. City had finished second in the First Division and were clearly doing well at the time. It would be a while before they tasted such success in the cup again though.
Fast-forward 30 years and the final had moved to Wembley where City faced South Coast club Portsmouth. City went behind in the 28th minute to the brilliantly named Septimus Rutherford, but then up stepped Fred Tilson, whose brace earned City their second FA Cup and him a place in history (and this article).
Another sizeable gap followed before City got back to winning ways in an FA Cup final. Aside from the rather one-side Watford final, this 3-1 victory over Birmingham City was the only time City have won an FA Cup final by more than just a one-goal margin. Joe Hayes, Jack Dyson and Bobby Johnstone were on target for Les McDowall’s Man City, while Noel Kinsey got the goal for Birmingham.
Finally, the last FA Cup City won in the 20th century came in 1969 when they came up against Leicester City in the final. City had some very good players at the time including Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee and they were managed by Joe Mercer (who would go on to manage England, albeit on a caretaker basis). Once again, it was a single goal that decided things, with Neil Young (who would later go on to become a global rock star… oh, wrong one!) getting the all-important goal midway through the first half. City would have to wait a good old while before they tasted the jubilation of winning the cup after this one!
Man City’s Worst Upsets
Man City have had been on plenty of rollercoaster rides in the league over the decades, but they’ve also tasted some rather sour moments in the FA Cup too. Here are some of the toughest cup days for City. Note we’ve focussed on the more recent upsets as that coincides with City’s greatest success and, well, the higher you fly, the bigger the bump when you hit the deck!
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City – FA Cup Final 2013
The 2012/13 season was to prove something of a disappointment for Manchester City. Okay, it started well enough when they won the Community Sheild. But they got knocked out of the League Cup in the third round and then finished as runners-up to Manchester United in the Premier League. Surely Roberto Mancini’s men could at least finish the campaign on a high though? After all, they faced Wigan in the final and they’d already been relegated from the top flight.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get better for City at Wembley as Wigan shocked the footballing world by beating the favourites 1-0 to land their first major trophy. Ben Watson’s late goal was all that separated the sides. Roberto Martinez was the man in the dugout for the Latics and though he couldn’t keep his side in the Premier League, he’ll still go down in Wigan folklore for leading his side to FA Cup glory. As for the other Roberto, Mancini got sacked a couple of days after the final.
Manchester City 0-2 Middlesbrough – FA Cup Fourth Round 2015
Man City were the Premier League champions when they hosted Middlesbrough at the Etihad in the fourth road of the cup in January 2015. The home side were the strong favourites to brush the visitors aside, but Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough prove a tough nut to crack. They had been playing well in the Championship and had a very solid defence. So solid that not even the likes of David Silva or Sergio Aguero could find a way through.
Instead it was Middlesbrough who grabbed a scrappy lead through Chelsea loanee (and future Leeds star) Patrick Bamford who scored in the 53rd minute. Then Spanish player Kike, who was also on loan (from Athletic Bilbao) added a little icing to the cake in injury time when he made it 2-0 to the visitors. It’s fair to say Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t best pleased with the result, but he suggested it was down to his players being nervous… were they still having nightmares about their defeat to Wigan in 2013?
Manchester City 0-3 Nottingham Forest – FA Cup Third Round 2009
Man City were very much on the ascent in the 2008/09 season, and though they hadn’t quite made their mark (they didn’t win the Premier League until 2011/12) they were certainly heading in the right direction. So it came as something of a shock to City fans, neutrals and pundits alike when Nottingham Forest posted a comfortable 3-0 victory over City at the Etihad.
Mark Hughes was the City boss at the time, although he only lasted until December 2009 when the City owners turned to the services of Mancini. Perhaps a decent run in the FA Cup might have given Hughes a little more time. Alas, it was not to be as goals from Nathan Tyson, Robert Earnshaw and Joe Garner earned a fine victory for the visitors.
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City – FA Cup Fifth Round 2018
Five years after beating Man City in the final, Wigan repeated the trick (and the scoreline) when they got the better of Pep Guardiola’s high-flying side at the DW Stadium. Despite the visitors having a whopping 82% of the possession and 29 shots during the match, it was the home fans who were celebrating at the end of the game thanks to the only goal of the game scored by Will Grigg in the 79th minute. Pep moaned about the possibly rather harsh sending-off of Fabian Delph in the first half. But Delph is hardly Lionel Messi and City should have still had more than enough to beat a Wigan side that cost a fraction of the star-studded City team.