Tag Archives: Manchester City

Reality Bites

In a week where it seemed every discussion on football concerned off-field matters, it was nice to see the game come back yesterday with a healthy dose of realism. Whether it be lunatic plans to turn the Premiership into a U2 tour, or hyperbolic panic over whether lost legends would be appropriately commemorated, it seemed to have slipped everyone’s mind that it is what takes place on the field that keeps us, as fans, so attached.

I experienced a slight feeling of surprise that a match actually took place at all in yesterday’s Manchester derby, such was the speculation surrounding it’s unique preamble. Yet once the whistle went, it didn’t take long before I, as a football fan, and a neutral on this most partizan of occasions, was back in the place I know best, a place I could feel comfortable again.

Having taken in the parades, the mascots, the adapted kits, and the wonderfully observed (much to my surprise, I must admit) minute’s silence, this match, far from being weighed down by any emotional baggage, instantly became a classic tactical battle that could have been played out in any era of the game – one that was won, hands down, by Manchester City’s Sven Goran Eriksson.

Manchester United could probably have been forgiven for believing that things would go their way in this match, given the massive wave of sympathy that flowed in their favour, but City turned up with a spot-on attitude and a classic underdog’s gameplan, and upset both the script and the odds.

It took around ten minutes for the game to settle into a pattern that was never really broken. All of a sudden, Manchester United found themselves banging their heads against the brick wall that was City’s five-man midfield, expertly marshalled by man-of-the-match Dietmar Hamann, a realist’s footballer if ever there was one. Any thoughts of the occasion were lost, as suddenly United found three crucial points in the Championship race drifting away from them.

Immediately afterwards, over at Stamford Bridge, the worldwide audience got a timely taste of just what could be coming in their direction in 2011. If they’ve got any sense or taste, they’ll be writing their letters of opposition in Kuala Lumpur right now.

Quite why Chelsea and Liverpool even bother to fulfil this fixture is a mystery to me, neither of them ever has any inclination to win it, so they might as well just take a point each and save us all the misery of sitting through the worst 90 minutes of the season. As dull, turgid, pointless, meaningless 0-0 draws go, this was up there with the best of them.

Between them the two sides mustered one solitary goalbound effort in the entire match – and that was a Peter Crouch header so tame that the big man could have picked himself up, made his way to the goal and saved it himself if he so wished.

My initial thought was that new rules ought to be brought in to enable these two to be docked points for this display. My second thought was that if some yank wants to walk on at the end of this, and insist the game be settled by a session of “added-time Multiball!”, then I for one would be in favour. Bring it on, it would actually be better than this.

Then I paused for a third thought. I realised that this was great. I had endured 90 minutes of total crap, but in a silly way that only hardened football fans can understand I had thoroughly enjoyed it. This was football reality, the game brought down to it’s bare bones, and a match that will bring absolutely no new converts to the game.

After this week’s insane proposals, it was exactly the sort of game that needed to be showcased to a worldwide audience. After all, if you’re going to market a product, then you must be honest with your customers about exactly what they’ll be letting themselves in for, so well done Premier League for not keeping the truth locked away.

Anyone watching Chelsea v Liverpool in one of the exotic locations the Premier League has lined up will surely now feel feel far more threatened by English Football coming their way than we feel by the idea of losing it.

A day that, if Sky Sports and the Premier League had had their way, was meant to be full of emotion, passion, and excitement ended up being dominated by arch-professionalism and heavy strategy. Good. It reassured me that you can take the football out of England, but you’ll never take England out of the football.

Jamie.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Chelsea FC, Comment, England, English Premier League, FA, Football, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Munich Air Disaster, Opinion, Sky, Soccer, Sport, Sven Goran Eriksson, Television

Munich: A City Fan’s View

Something about the Munich air crash has been brewing within me for some time. In fact, I suggested the idea of writing up on this site a controversial City fan’s view around a month ago.

I’ve avoided actually doing it because wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to say. Did I want to point out that United arguably exploited the disaster to create a kind of club founding-myth (something that was suggested in the Manchester Evening News as early as 1959)?

Did I want to say something about the hypocrisy of some of the things coming out of the club and its sympathisers in the media, given how little respect fans of United (and every other club, including City) give to the memory of the Hillsborough disaster? (I always find a good test of how offensive something is, is to remove the word ‘scouse’ and replace it with ‘black’, and think about whether a “respectable” broadsheet paper would publish it. But that’s another issue.)

On the other hand, did I want to write an apology to United for what some City fans might do – or for what they might have done without the sustained pressure from inside and outside Eastlands? Did I want to muse on the rights of football fans to say what they like inside the ground, given what Sol Campbell said earlier this season about abuse?

I don’t know. There are too many issues I want to explore and I don’t really think, on reflection, that it’s appropriate to base a discussion of them around the anniversary of a tragedy.

National newspapers don’t necessarily like complexity, so for most of them this week has been about one young man – Duncan Edwards, who died at the age of 21 and a few months, younger than I am now. His death has been made to stand for the whole Munich crash: the end of a great team, and the cruel way in which youthful promise was taken away. Not many events in football have this kind of symbolic power.

Generally, it is football itself that inspires us. So although a moment of silence on Saturday is only proper (and I sincerely hope it is observed), the best way to honour those young men, many of whom were from the very city whose two great clubs are meeting, is to play a great game of football.

“To say that these men paid their shillings to watch 22 hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink… for not only had you escaped from the clanking machinery of this lesser life, from work, wages, rent, doles, sick pay, insurance cards, nagging wives, ailing children, bad bosses, idle workmen, but you had escaped with most of your mates and your neighbours, with half the town, and there you were, cheering together, thumping one another on the shoulders, swapping judgements like lords of the earth, having pushed your way through a turnstile into another and altogether more splendid kind of life, hurtling with conflict and yet passionate and beautiful in its art.”  — JB Priestley

Harry.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Comment, England, English Premier League, Football, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Munich Air Disaster, Soccer, Sport

Farewell to the Moston Menace

Manchester City’s decision to allow Ishmael Miller to turn his season long loan to West Bromwich Albion into a permanent transfer (for £900,000 potentially rising to £1.4m) was good news for the Midlands side, for whom Miller has played an important part in their attempt to return to the Premier League, but as a City fan it left me with a tinge of regret.The explosion of Micah Richards onto the national scene around a year ago had pundits raving about his physique, but Miller’s is arguably even more impressive:

Moston Menace

Unlike Richards, at 6’3″ Miller is tall as well as fast and strong. Not many defenders would fancy stopping him, and his record for the Baggies this season (10 goals in 24 games) would suggest that not many of them have been successful. Indeed, it was Miller’s physique and his scoring record at City that won him the nickname within the club of ‘The Moston Menace’, after the north Manchester district from which he hails.

In fact, this is really the reason I was sad to see the back of him. I don’t remember any players in recent memory who had a nickname that was based on where they were from rather than on their name. Richard Dunne may be a rock at the heart of the City back four, and a big part in our success this season, but ‘Dunney’ is hardly the most inspiring handle.

In this age when even players who come through academies are from all over the country or even the world, a player turning out for his local team is a rarity to be cherished, in the Premier League at least. Miller wasn’t even the only Mancunian in the City first team; Michael Johnson is from Urmston and although Nedum Onuoha was born in Nigeria he was raised just a couple of miles from Maine Road; I think what really got me about Miller was that nickname. It sounded like a throw back to another age.

“Miller for City… running down the wing…The Moston Menace has it…shoots…another goal for City! The Moston Menace scores and the City fans throw their flat caps in the air!”

What might have been…a man can dream.

Harry.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Comment, English Premier League, Football, Football League, Ismael Miller, Manchester City, Soccer, Transfers, West Bromwich Albion

Munich memorial: Parker and his possible darker motive

With the Munich Memorial / Manchester Derby coming closer, there is a sense of unease in Manchester.

MPs, including the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe and the MP for Manchester Withington John Leech, are calling for caution when the match occurs on the 10th February.

However, it is the role of the Official Man City Supporters’ Association Kevin Parker, who wants a minute’s applause instead of the proposed silence, which is threatening the occasion.

It is natural to be apprehensive with such a sombre occasion coming up, and with 3,000 City fans travelling to Old Trafford. It is also true that the behaviour of several people could light the blue torch-paper. Being a Manchester United all my life, I have often been subjected to the Munich chants and the slurs from ignorant City fans, who perhaps forget that one of their own, Frank Swift, was also killed in the tragedy.

Even so (and this may seem misguided and naive to some of you), the majority of City fans I know fully realise the significance of the event, and wouldn’t dare cross that border between deep rivalry, which I am all for, into an area that would constitute an act of sheer provocation.

And this is why the unease that is being created and voiced is misguided. The handful who could use the occasion to provoke will be out-numbered by the many who will be respectful, and I fully believe that the acts of the majority will stifle that of the minority.

However, for City fans, where’s the trust? Where’s the responsibility? If I were a City fan, I’d be incredibly upset and angry that the head of my supporters association doesn’t trust the fellow fans of my football club. City fans are in danger of being tarred by the same brush.

The fact that Parker has called for a minute’s applause is arguably attempting to protect the provocative and ignorant few, and also misses the point completely. How can you celebrate the lives of Duncan Edwards, Geoff Bent and Roger Byrne et.al with an applause, when their chances to achieve were so tragically taken away?

An applause celebrates a fulfilled, detailed history (perhaps the idea of the applause, a modern take on mourning in this country at least, could also represent the possible inherent lack of respect currently present in football, but that argument is for another day). But the Busby Babes who perished in the Munich Air Disaster do not have one, because they were never given the chance. It is a time to mourn, not celebrate.

This is an event for an entire city, not just for a sect of fans. Parker’s belief that a minute’s applause would be better for the occasion and for Manchester as a whole, could well represent a more selfish motive.

However, it doesn’t help matters when you sport your advertiser on a commemorative mural…:

Mural AIG

What d’ya think? Utter rubbish? Good point? Provocative in both senses of the word? Tell us!

David.

(Image: © MEN, taken from The Daily Mail)

 

 

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Comment, English Premier League, Football, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Soccer, Sport