Manchester City fans, I bring good news: Assuming the visit to Sunderland does not end in defeat, Manchester City, mathematically, can’t finish bottom of the Premier League (that’s also not allowing for any points deductions Portsmouth are going to incur). And, if Arsenal beat Hull and Wolves get nothing at Turf Moor, then a victory at the Stadium of Light will ensure Premiership football for the Citizens next season.
We could be safe by Sunday evening. Fingers crossed, eh?
See, there’s a certain oddity about City fans I’ve noticed that doesn’t seem to be present with any other set of supporters. I don’t know many grounds in the country where the phrase “come on, one more just to be safe” can be heard when the team is five goals to the good and there would be no hint of irony in the tone of voice. It says it all when, for the first nine years of my life, I was convinced we were called F****** Hell City.
City have done stupid things for years – in 1938 they became the first (and are currently still the only) team ever to be relegated whilst being reigning league champions; in the 1957/58 season they scored over 100 goals and also conceded over 100 goals; then there’s always being 2-0 in front at half time at in the final home game of 2007/08 to Fulham (who had been without an away win all season)… and finishing the game as the losing side, with the 2-3 final score being the springboard for Fulham’s survival that season.
I suppose City fans have to have some wry sense of humour to be able to deal with turns of events like that. The same sense of humour is shared by the club itself: the rumour has it that, on one occasion, when a City fan was so disgusted with what he had seen, he ran onto the pitch and tore up his season ticket. Later in the week, he received a replacement, accompanied with the note ‘If we have to suffer this rubbish, then so do you.’ Though I fear we’re heading into urban myth territory, there.
This stupidity must be something ingrained into the club’s DNA, because managers, coaches, directors, chairmen, players and even stadiums have been and gone, yet the stupidity remains. Outside of football, I’m a firm believer that no amount of positive or negative thinking can influence an outcome one way or another; I have no belief that fate exists or plays a part in how life transpires and I don’t believe in anything of the supernatural. But, when City are playing, that doesn’t stop me sending daggers from my eyes into Frank Lampard’s back as he stepped up to take a penalty, thinking ‘miss miss miss’, during City’s 2-1 win over Chelsea or asking a God I don’t believe in to use powers I don’t believe he has to help us on derby day. There’s more chance of the club changing its name to Manchester City and Woodland Folk than there is of any of the above bearing an influence on what happened, but it still doesn’t stop me doing it.
But can that stupidity be vanquished? Can it be locked away somewhere, never to see the light of day again, like an unwanted Christmas present or Katie Price’s dignity? After all, even after large investments City aren’t immune to creating little to no chances in a series of dire displays, which culminated in a 2-4 victory at Chelsea and the completion their first league double over the London club since 1957. Predictably unpredictable.
City currently sit on level points with fourth place, having played a game less. It’s at this point in articles like this one where the columnist would start looking at the form book as some sort of guide to working out who would be favourites to get that fourth spot. But with City’s ability to throw anything away, Tottenham and Villa’s notoriety in bottling their position better than Coca Cola could ever bottle tap water and Liverpool’s somewhat haphazard displays all season, it would probably be better to study the Lord of the Rings books for clues than it would be to study any of the form books.
I still think City are in the best position to grab fourth, but it’s all going to come down to whose capacity to bottle it wins out… Whoever bottles fourth place the least will get there and that’s not going to be easy for experienced bottlers such as Manchester City Football Club. The bright side, though, is that, Aston Villa, Tottenham and Liverpool have all bottled finishing fourth in the past, while this is new territory for City.
City can do this and I still believe are favourites to… If we can beat Everton in our game in hand and just not lose against Tottenham and Aston Villa at home, surely that advantage would be too much for even City, the perennial thrower awayers, to throw away? I suppose I’m tempting that fate I don’t believe in by saying that.
Sunderland await City this weekend and the black cats have just broken a winless streak that stretched back to the end of November last year. Normally, any opposition would want that record to continue going into their fixture with the under-performing team, but this is City. The Sunderland victory over Bolton was quite a good result for us – because it eliminates the possibility of another typical City moment and means that that little niggle won’t be in the back of our minds.
I’d quite like City to get the fourth place. I’ve never seen the club win something; I’ve never even seen the club do better than has been expected of them, with the possible exception of the Kevin Keegan promotion season. I’m sick to the back teeth of being every cabbie’s second favourite club – ask any supporter of a successful club if they’d rather be less successful and more popular and they’ll look at you like you’ve just handed them a bag of hedgehogs.
Either way, whatever happens, it should be a lot more interesting than a Lily Allen album. Though, that’s not especially hard.
Written By David Mooney