As the utterly dire game between Manchester City and Fulham meandered to its inevitably even conclusion, I found myself sitting in my seat at The City of Manchester Stadium wondering if it was just me that was a sane and reasonable City fan. Of course, the worrying thing is, if my opinion isn’t of the sane and reasonable variety, then that, by definition, makes me a moron. I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s true come the end.
Sunday evening saw a bigger overreaction to a draw than even the draw with Birmingham at home earlier in the season. The players, responsible for the club being in third position in the league no less, were booed from the field for not playing very well and not beating a well organised team.
And, during the game, listening to the people sitting around me in Eastlands made me wonder if I’d slipped into a parallel universe. Regular readers will know of several characters (that was the kindest word I could use without being censored) that sit around me. But this wasn’t just Angry Lady and Casual Racist who were responsible for these bouts of verbal excretions. It was much more widespread. All of the following were shouted by different people.
“Come on Carlos! You should be scoring three or four against this lot!” All too often, it seems, these days, do fans come to City and expect a big win because “it’s only such-and-such”. You’d think City fans would know better, given the club’s got previous when it comes to not getting the result they should. But teams won’t come to Eastlands and roll over, no matter their league placing. Fulham may well be lower in the league, but that doesn’t mean we will score four or five goals without playing well.
“Oh, don’t keep hitting it long!” (and this was quickly followed by “Don’t play it short, get it forward!”). I’m not quite sure what the team could have done in this instance. Playing football by neither playing long nor short passes is somewhat difficult.
“Vieira?! He’s taking a striker off and bringing on a defensive midfielder?! We should be trying to win the game! We need a decent manager!” Mancini is a decent manager. Better, I would say, than most, if not all, of the fans sitting in the crowd. And, actually, the change of Vieira for Dzeko made sense to me. City had, at that time, three strikers on the pitch, but they couldn’t get the ball to them without lumping it long. Sacrificing one for a defensive midfielder allowed Yaya Touré to push forward (where he has been effective this season) and gave City more of the ball. Perhaps Milner would have been the better choice, but I can definitely see the logic in Roberto Mancini’s substitution.
“The wages you’re on, you should be quicker than that Yaya!” I must have missed the memo that said that people who earn more money run quicker than people who earn less.
Now, I know that these are just one-off examples of pent up frustration being released during what was a very frustrating game. And I know it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the majority of fans and that I only said the thing about me being the only sane one as a useful writing device to give me a rather snappy and perhaps controversial introduction. I know the majority of City fans are sensible and reasonable and watch telly and eat chocolate like everybody else.
City didn’t get going on Sunday and, arguably, were lucky to escape with a point. But that draw is hardly the end of the world. Tottenham may well be able to draw level on points with their game in hand, but they’d have to smash in twelve without reply in that match to overtake us on goal difference. And United’s visit to Stamford Bridge won’t exactly be one to look forward to for Chelsea. And we still have to play both of these teams.
I’m not one to go for booing players. I’m not really sure what it achieves; I’m yet to see someone put in a better performance for being booed by their own fans and, at the end of the game, it looks a bit rich booing a team off when they are third in the league. Especially after they had, not long ago, been flirting with regular lower league football.
Some fans need to realise that throwing money at a team won’t instantly solve all the problems. While you can assemble a championship winning team on computer games by spending a wad of cash and racking up five goal victories every week (except I can’t, I’m rubbish at these games, I lied earlier), it doesn’t scan in real life. When the whistle blows, it’s between two teams and whoever scores the most goals wins… However much the team cost to assemble doesn’t give anybody a right to win, it simply increases the chances of them being able to score a goal (in theory, of course, because it does depend on who you spend your money on).
As for the fact that, since yesterday, it’s now been 35 years since City won a major trophy, I’m not really that fussed (though thanks to the United fans for reminding us constantly… Not that you care about City, obviously). I’ve waited all my life to see City win something and I’m sure I can wait a bit longer if need be. It’s not as if there haven’t been any improvements at City over the last eighteen months, is it?
They say that patience is a virtue. We just need to have patience. Fourth spot is definitely within our reach, third spot too. We’re still in the FA Cup with a favourable draw in that, providing we can beat Aston Villa tomorrow, we have a home tie and then one of United or Arsenal will go out. And the Europa League is still there, too.
The season’s not over in February and that’s not because of an impending relegation, for a change. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Anyway, I’m off to elbow somebody in the head, since I’ll probably escape punishment for it.
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