365 days ago, Manchester City went to Old Trafford and battered their greatest rivals 6-1 on their own ground. It was a stunning performance; one which buried the memories of so many past disappointments and saw City’s title challenge suddenly become serious. Our new, all-out-attacking philosophy was being justified as we sat 5 points clear with a goal difference of plus-26 after just 9 matches of the season. It was a victory of seismic proportions.
As a City fan, I will never forget that match. So many times as a youngster I would have to pretend to be ill on a Monday morning after a derby day hammering in order to avoid the inevitable stick from United fans at school. For years, we were nothing short of shite and United were champions; regularly beating us on the way to silverware. The time we went 2-0 up at Maine Road only to see the lead dissipate and lose 3-2 was bad one. The image of Roy Keane celebrating the winner on that day in ‘93 will forever be burnt into my retinas. Then there was the 5-0 in ’94, another particularly painful memory that haunted City fans for years afterwards. This 6-1 was a balm that helped soothe some of those long-standing derby-inflicted aches and pains. We hadn’t just won – we had taken them apart and let the league know we were serious title contenders. For those reasons, it’s a game that City fans should always remember and enjoy.
However, the sight of so many City fans engaging in HAPPY 61RTHDAY festivities on the internet – a way of celebrating the ‘anniversary’ of that great match – was beyond ridiculous. I mean, seriously, how fucking embarrassing can you get? Our fans are regularly accused of being purveyors of a small-club mentality and I’m afraid that this sort of activity makes those claims very difficult to argue against. Did United fans celebrate an anniversary of the 5-0 12 months after that game? I very much doubt it. That’s because, as a side that sees the big picture and concentrates on delivering silverware for the club, they realise that wins against your local rivals aren’t the be-all-and-end-all.
It wasn’t just fans. Kevin Horlock, a decent midfield player who was part of some shocking City sides, tweeted:
“In remembrance of what all them cockney reds went through a year ago tomoz please join me at midnight in 6 mins of uncontrollable laughter”.
What utter small-mindedness. Not only is his ‘Cockney reds’ jibe a cringeworthy cliche, his eagerness to celebrate a win from 12 months ago is, quite frankly, humiliating. Our expensively assembled squad won a match comfortably and in style. Is that really cause for ‘anniversary’ celebrations?
Having expressed these views on Twitter, I’ve been called all sorts of names, accused of being a ‘rag’, and told to lighten up. So let me be clear: I have no problem with fans singing songs about the 6-1 or talking fondly about the match with their mates. Enjoy it – it was a terrific day. But creating and celebrating an ‘anniversary’ is utterly embarrassing and something I cannot engage in. It’s unnecessary and makes us look cheap, small and pathetic. We are now a club that wins silverware and competes in Europe, with plans to dominate English football for the foreseeable future – we have bigger fish to fry, as it were. When we were rubbish, a win over United did feel like a huge achievement but we’re now a side looking to win big trophies. Let’s concentrate on continuing our success against all clubs, not focusing on the one from down the road. We’re better than that.