So, it’s derby week. Everyone loves derby week. What self-respecting City fan doesn’t want to read endless articles by ex-United players (and current ones too) telling us how you can’t buy history or class or how the match doesn’t matter to them, and on and on and on, all merely a warm up until Alex Fergurson starts his legendary mind games.
Align this with Paul Scholes’s autobiography being out and I expect we won’t be able to shut up the notoriously shy and private family man in the lead up to Sunday. Oh Paul, how I yearn to hear your views on City’s emergence, it really will complete my week. Not that it’s all one-sided of course.
So we are treated to five days of tiresome, banal interviews with ex-players, ex-managers, or current players talking PR-fed nonsense and endless clichés like it being another game at the end of the day and the lads are over the moon at the thought of winning and sick as a parrot with the thought of defeat and so on. Sky Sports News will wheel out some fancy new graphics with accompanying bombastic music and the charade is complete.
It started on Wednesday with a laughable Daily Mail article, by that notoriously shy “Sportsmail Reporter” who is too modest to put his name to the endless guff he, or they produce. The article claimed that Anders Lindegaard had claimed that the Manchester derby was not that important – a complete lie, he said nothing of the sort, simply pointing out the obvious- that it won’t decide anything at this stage of the season. Sadly Nigel de Jong was soon being quoted saying City were the top dogs now – I didn’t open the article, he probably said nothing of the sort, merely mentioning the league table. Inevitably one of the old guard had to have a word or two, and it was Ryan Giggs who broke ranks first, making some laughable comments about Mario Balotelli:
“He is a little strange….. god knows how many fines he has received in England! No one except Manchester City fans really like him. ..”
If only he could cheat on his wife or girlfriend with a succession of women like most footballers do, and stop embarrassing himself by getting the odd parking ticket instead (which was a made-up story anyway). And if Giggs had the remotest idea of what football fans in this country think, he might be aware that Mr Balotelli seems rather popular with many opposition fans, due to being two pepperonis short of a pizza.
It has always been thus. Before the derby that fell close to the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, Paul Scholes had plenty to say, as fears rose that the minute’s silence may be disrupted:
“There is always that few who might cause problems. It would reflect badly on their club but that’s not stopped them over the years.”
Rick Boardman of the band Delphic said in a recent interview, talking about City fans before a derby:
“They care more about us losing than winning games themselves – I just don’t get that. It could all change but I’ve got confidence in our club. And whatever happens, we’ll always have the history. “
Today we see Mario Balotelli proclaiming the Manchester derby will soon be the biggest in the world, Chris Smalling discussing Aguero, Micah Richards claiming United are frightened of City and various other fascinating insights (such as some tactical advice for City on Sunday from Robbie Savage – cheers Robbie).
The media don’t help. After all, Sky Sports News will hype up anything. If the intensity of a Norwich v Ipswich match can be compared to the last days of Rome, then a Manchester derby is perfect fodder for them, especially if it falls into one of their Grand Slam Sundays, Super Sundays, Magnificent Mondays, Showdown Showcase Specials or World War Wednesdays.(I may have made a couple of them up). What’s more, as the internet has taken over the world, papers have more room to fill, with as much news available as they’ve always had.
Of course it’s not all bad – derby week can offer the odd nugget of gold, such as positive in-depth interviews with managers and players (there are ones with Balotelli, Young and Mancini this week), but please spare us Lou Macari’s views on City’s money. Every man has his breaking point.
But the last word should go to the The Daily Telegraph’s pointless feature about Wayne Rooney’s bicycle-kick goal against City last season. Fans and players commented on WHERE THEY WERE at that historic moment, but the go-to man must be David Prosperi, the vice-president of Aon Global PR.
“Not only was the Aon logo extremely visible throughout the multiple global TV replays and photo images when it happened, but years from now, when the goal against Manchester City is shown time and again as perhaps one of the greatest of all time, you will still see the Aon name. That one image epitomised the value of Aon’s relationship with Manchester United.”
Roll on Monday.