FEATURE: Some City Fans Need To Grow Up

I am proud of Manchester City.  I like feeling part of this Victorian institution which has stood for generations of people like me. I have invested a lot into them emotionally for three decades, and got a lot out.  Most of my mates support them too.  As a result, I have always been slightly irritated when I have had to deal with the negative stereotype of a City fan which can pervade.  The hysterical  small-timer, the unhealthily obsessed, the Bitter Blue.  It is even more annoying when in some City fans this stereotype bares out.

It has got worse recently, and seemed to reach a peak around the Champions League game against Roma.  Before the game Paul Scholes – who upon retirement has morphed into a cross of Dapper Laughs, Zinedine Zidane and Howdy Doody – amplified the criticism around the ground not being full for what was supposedly a big tie.  The reason many gave for the relatively low turnout in response was a nuanced one around City fan’s relationship with the competition: which is valid, but one which sounds shrill when attempting to express it within 140 characters.  It would have been more useful to have the courage to admit the fundamental truth that there are better things to spend forty odd-quid on than a game of football with little riding on that single result.  It is also probably a more poignant response to a millionaire asking why normal people are not putting their hands in their pocket for something which they are currently viewing for free.

For most though, the problem is not ex-players of rival clubs gobbing off: it’s the fact that they are given a platform by a major TV network for that very purpose.  The establishment are after us, you see.

Or so the more unhinged – but not insignificant – part of the club’s fanbase would tell you.  It grumbled loudly again last night when a bad refereeing decision led to CSKA’s equalising goal.  The Hungarian referee was identified as the latest part of a conspiracy maintained by scores of officials, not to mention governing bodies at national and continental level, as well as dozens of the most prominent members of the print media and the aforementioned broadcasters.

The sheer amount of people required to be involved in this cover up makes hoaxing the moon landing seem quaint and parochial in comparison.  If that level of deceit is considered to be too farfetched for winning the space race then involving even more people in order to stop someone winning a game of football is fanciful to say the least.

The fact of the matter is that UEFA does not have to act in an underhand way for the Champions League to benefit certain clubs.  It is already structurally geared towards helping the established teams through its transparent seedings and coefficient system. It is a system which will eventually end up working in City’s favour: a process which could be accelerated if City could turn over the second best side from Europe’s fifth best league at home.

“Platini got what he wanted” is now a familiar refrain.  The logical explanation of the Financial Fair Play rules has shifted: it is no longer the result of vested interests causing mission creep away from a laudible aim to make football fairer; it is now a vendetta orchestrated by one powerful man who has made it his life’s work to destroy one club.  The result of Gerry Gow leaving his studs in during a pre-season friendly and some Moss Side scallies telling him to stop codding.

The complaints are increasingly glib: during the recent draw against Chelsea they received a free kick on the edge of the box and took it too quickly; as soon as the referee blew his whistle to retake the dead ball a man who sits close to me exclaimed that the referee would not have done so had the ball flown into the City goal.  This was a throwaway comment, but an interesting one when considering the similar way in which City’s current success has been built to Chelsea’s: the victimisation which is now felt is not ideological or sporting any more: it is just personal.

I recognise that this has now become a whinge about a whinge, and also that the majority of City fans have a better sense of perspective than the types which I have outlined here: they are not as vocal, however, and that is the reason why it is frustrating when the caricaturish aspect of our support speaks on your behalf.

This present position is a product of our past.  In the period prior to the Abu Dhabi takeover we prided ourselves on being good fans of a bad team.  Most other fans were sympathetic to us and we felt that we deserved some good luck.  When a huge slice of good luck came about we felt that we were entitled to that as well as the approval to which we clinged previously.

The answer to this is not to become ‘good fans of a good team’: most interpretations of what that constitutes would be frankly awful, and would be even more distorted from the relationship that I enjoy with the club than the mentality which I have argued against in this piece.  Besides this, even the worst proponents of this bitterness do not even believe most of the things which they say themselves.  If they believed that the whole thing was a stitch up why would they continue to watch it?  Deep down there must be some hope after all, probably because there is evidently so much to be hopeful for.  The more real fear is that of failure but who wants to admit that?

Written by Gaz who is on Twitter

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7 comments on “FEATURE: Some City Fans Need To Grow Up
  1. David,

    I don’t disagree with anything you say here, really.

    But I do believe the overall standard of officiating in the UCL is biased against us. Not in a “nutter Bluemoon conspiracist way.”

    No, rather, I do believe there is a perception amongst officials that the bread needs to be buttered a certain way.

    I was watching a Europa League match the other day and the commentator noted: “official X wants to be selected for the Champions League and is doing everything he can to show he can keep a match under control.”

    Well just this. So I’m that Hungarian referee and think “do Platini, Gill et al want me doing City any favours?”

    Also, why is it that the big name star players and clubs routinely seem to get all the calls? Officials probably on some level feel that is what is wanted of them. And I believe they would be correct too. The simple elegance of this is that no brown envelopes are ever required.

    Not making an excuse here for our dreadful play. Just saying that the deck appears stacked. The overwhelming majority of decisions do seem to go against us. And one should be able to point that out without immediately having to don the proverbial tinfoil hat.

  2. i thought this was a decent article – underneath it all is the fundamental issue that FFP, conspiracy theories etc would have no wind beneath them if the team were able to do better in the Champions League. Why we are no able to make a better fist of it is quite simply beyond me – but I am 100% certain that our continued struggles has nothing to do with FFP, dodgy decisions (and yes the penalty decision was a shocker – but we should have had the game put away long before that

    As for timing the day after the Moscow debacle – then who cares there is most unlikely to be a good time to talk about it!


  3. John – I never said that FFP was laudable. Read it again, along with my comment above for that matter. And I didn’t realise that people were so touchy that they couldn’t read any reference to a defeat the day after it happened, even if it is set out within a much wider context.

    Besides this, the point of this article was that some fans are developing a persecution complex about everything. How do I address that without pulling together various examples from different places?

    • “I never said that FFP was laudable”

      “The logical explanation of the Financial Fair Play rules has shifted: it is no longer the result of vested interests causing mission creep away from a laudible aim to make football fairer;”

      Talk about nuancing!

      “Besides this, the point of this article was that some fans are developing a persecution complex about everything. How do I address that without pulling together various examples from different places?”

      You address it, as all good journalist do, point by point. Not by generalisations.

      Gazz, you are ‘of my tribe’ and therefore a friend. So to TUBLU, you’d do worse than read his reply again.


  4. Contemplations from Gazza’s navel.

    If you don’t mind me saying so, there’s seems at lot of negative stereotype about yourself.

    Your rant is an all inclusive mish mash, covering match day attendance, media hostility, poor refereeing, conspiracy theory, FFP and so forth and so on and on and on …..

    That you should attempt to rub salt briskly into the wound the day following Moscow, is weird. What on earth motivated you, are you unhinged?

    If you truly believe there is anything laudable about FFP, then unhinged you must be and consequently losing your marbles!

  5. Hi Tublu,
    I think that it’s laudible to get football finances under control, and it was with that mandate that Platini got the UEFA presidency. It’s been covered extensively elsewhere that initially he wanted to deal with debt. Once he ended up in that position he ran up against a load of vested interests and having to be seen to do “something” we ended up with FFP which does not tackle the original aim. This is the mission creep I outline in the piece.

  6. I was enjoying reading this – output from a like minded city fan I thought – until I got to this !! ‘a laudible aim to make football fairer’; after mopping the full fat latte off my screen I have to ask, do you really think that’s what FFP is ? honestly ?

    On a tangential note I don’t particularly care for the CL, I do go to each home game work permitting (and was at the roma game) but I don’t really enjoy them as ‘events’. For the ginger ponce to tell me I should because it’s a ‘big’ game, special evening etc is a little irritating – how appropriate given that he is also little and irritating.

    What I dislike most about the uefa circus is the total, unashamed hypocrisy of the whole gig. It’s about the fans and the football family they say before forcing the clubs to cover up the first 4 rows of seats so they can sell bigger advertising hoardings. The major sponsor is Heineken, try buying one before the game (unless you’re a guest of the same uefa trough snufflers of course). Then chuck in the hideous spectacle of some of the worst diving, cheating whining teams from leagues I have no interest in and add the triple R (random rubbish ref) factor and you’re all set for a night of not much fun.
    There, I feel better now, back to work.

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