Jumping on the Manchester City bandwagon

Manchester City news: Nigel De Jong breaks the leg of Hatem Ben ArfaI don’t know the dimensions of a bandwagon – but I’m guessing that the ones that circle round Manchester City football club every few months must be pretty damn big. That’s what oil money gets you – the biggest, plushest bandwagon in town.

People often do and believe things merely because many other people do and believe the same things. I know I have. I once spent weeks telling people that they really must watch Curb Your Enthusiasm as it was so amazing, and totally ad-libbed don’t you know? I’ve never watched Curb Your Enthusiasm, to be honest.

To quote Wikipedia, which is never wrong, “appeal to the people” is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges: “If many believe so, it is so.”

As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon” regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. This is how an ex-footballer can appear on Talksport and condemn a tackle that, and I quote “I’ve only seen it a couple of times, and not from every angle”.

Welcome aboard son, help yourself to a drink, a small buffet will be served shortly.

Football bandwagons are commonplace – any glory-hunting football fan has jumped on one, anyone who suddenly becomes interested in football during a world cup. Even politicians – Tony Blair couldn’t wait to jump on the football bandwagon when he came to power in 1997, to make himself look cool. I am led to believe it was a bandwagon that got Ryan Giggs Sports Personality of the Year. I can’t think of any other reason.

For Manchester City, apart from individual incidents (more on that later), the most common bandwagon of recent years has been for bitter ex-players to jump on the “City treated me terribly money can’t buy you success I was glad to get out of the circus” bandwagon. Now Marseille are on board the City wagon, threatening to sue De Jong for a tackle on a player who now won’t play this season for another team as they had loaned him out anyway so was never going to play for Marseille and who they clearly aren’t that interested in anyway, hence the loan deal. Good luck with that. And the next time a Newcastle or Marseille player commits a bad challenge, I look forward to the media witch-hunt, legal action, and retrospective bans.

Thatcher, Adebayor, De Jong. I’m not aware of another club having a single media-led witch-hunt to match any of those on the above players.

Thatcher of course deserved to be slated, and deserved to be banned.

Adebayor deserved a ban for kicking out, and his goal celebration was ill-advised, though utter hilarious to me at the time (I turned to my mate as he did it and said “they’ll throw the book at him for that”). Adebayor’s actions helped produce possibly the largest bandwagon of modern times. The Guinness Book of Records actually lists it as the biggest since British records began (1992).

Everyone wanted their say. Everyone. Richard Scudamore was appalled, Ray Parlour said “Adebayor really owes Arsenal something for bringing him up”, Oliver Holt compared it to Cantona’s kung-fu moment. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s spokesman said Des had called for “an end to thuggery on football pitches” (ok, I made that one up). Alan Green said the book should be thrown at Adebayor – having admitted he hadn’t seen the incident. Stan Collymore said he should have got a 2 match ban for the goal celebration alone. Bobby Gould said that the whole affair would cost England in their bid for the World Cup. Alex Stepney said, “I seem to remember George Best got a six-week ban in 1970 for knocking the ball out of a referee’s hands so I think Adebayor did get off lightly. These incidents are more noticeable nowadays.”

Flawless logic.
Former Met Police commander John O’Connor said: ‘I am sure the police will want Adebayor to be made an example of. From a police perspective, Adebayor could have been arrested and then charged with actual body harm for the incident with Van Persie. He would then have faced the prospect of standing trial in court.’”

Yes, of course he could John.

Continued on Page Two

De Jong? Well, it’s been discussed to death now – let’s not go over old ground. Ian Wright, who doesn’t like City (join the queue) because City didn’t give his poor little lamb the pay rise he thought he deserved for a series of average performances (and now can’t get in the team at all), has dedicated 2 articles to the tackle, and now supports Marseille’s threat of legal action. He’s got BIG OPINIONS.

The size of the club in question means everything of course. A Chesterfield player could mow down half the opposition team with a machete and not get the coverage De Jong has had. Kevin Nolan’s “tackle” on Victor Anichebe in February 2009, was vicious and kept the player out for a year – I don’t recall half the coverage that De Jong has got. Or even a quarter, for that matter. Same with Danny Guthrie on Craig Fagan in September 2008, which broke the winger’s right tibia. Or Michael Brown on Sean Davis on the 2005-06 season or on Ryan Giggs in August 2006. No media witch-hunt for that lot, for horrendous fouls much worse than De Jong’s. No Sky-led campaign even for William Gallas, and his horrendous tackle on Mark Davies in January 2010 – Gallas escaped any further punsihment too. I guess City are just more topical at the moment. The talk of the town.

Bandwagons are easy to form though. Stoked by a Sky Sports News repetitive loop, soon everyone’s on board. Out of the woodwork come a plethora of ex-professionals, ex-referees, union officials, and vox pops with people in the street. After any big story breaks, I will rush home to see what Alan Mullery thinks before forming my own opinion. You can’t properly assess a situation until you have had the input of Tony Cascarino, and a few sound bites, knee-jerk reactions, clichés, and above all, the ability to totally overreact and drag a story out until people are jumping off buildings to avoid having to hear any more about it.

Footballers used to retire, and slip quietly into the background. Perhaps work for their club, open a pub, start a new chapter and a new career – move on. Now there’s a whole army of ex-players clogging up our screens boring the pants off us, with generic, tabloid-like opinions because Sky Sports News has got to fill 24 hours of sports coverage a day.

“The authorities have got to be looking at incidents like this…something needs to be done….reckless….malice….cynical…intent…..scissored…..got a history of this…..modern phenomena…..in my day….made an example of…”

So Sky Sports News get on the phone to Tony Cascarino.

“Hi Tony, we’ve decided to push relentlessly the tackle De Jong made at the weekend that broke Ben Arfa’s leg. Would you like to contribute a few words, normal rate?”

“Yeah, that would be great. Where do you want me?”

“We’re easy. Any preferences?”

“I was thinking at home, in front of a roaring log fire. Makes me look more sincere.”

“Bit warm isn’t it for roaring log fires?”

“Yeah but I like it. Makes me more believable. Gives me a bit of gravitas.”

“OK, roaring log fire it is. We’ll be round this afternoon. I presume you’ll be denouncing the tackle and calling for prompt action from the FA?”

“Oh, of course. Erm, is that the general view at the moment, just out of interest?”

“Yes, seems to be.”

“Yeah, definitely my view as well. Definitely.”

The only question that remains is what will be the next bandwagon be to jump on? Well there’s a large one forming for Harry Redknapp to be the next England manager, once he gets that trifling matter of tax evasion out the way. The Sunday Supplement crew are already fully on board. But the best ones are for “controversial” incidents on the pitch. Hard to say who the next player to be hounded will be, but the smart money is on a hard-tackling, foreign player with an attitude problem. Thank god the English players can control themselves a bit better.

Written By Howard Hockin