So Manchester City have lost a staggering £121 million in the last 12 months, which sounds about right given their summer largesse and it is perhaps inevitable that a club eternally derided as also-rans by the other half of Manchester will eventually win something. The older supporters, who remember wearing flares and platform shoes the last time City won a major trophy, will no doubt be ecstatic to end the prolonged sense of relative misery. For the current generation, this will be the springboard from which the blue half of a great city will rise and go on to dominate European football for a generation.
And here’s where it all stops making sense. This writer was always led to believe that City fans took a perverse sense of pride in being the ‘real Manc’ club who were not very good, frequently broke, and having to make do with an assortment of misfiring mid-market signings, managers who did well for everyone except them, and the strange cancer which appeared to induce mass paralysis at Maine Road throughout most of the 1990s. This was a side whose crowds pushed 30,000 while they were in the third tier. For most people’s money, that would qualify their supporters as some of the best on earth. Were their ‘bigger’ rivals across Manchester to suffer the same fate, it would be interesting to find out how many of their die-hard fans were more like fair-weather friends.
Yes, their team was poor and they lost at home to Bury, but their club had soul. So one cannot help but ask how many City fans get this, and how much the artificial nature of any future ‘achievements’ will dilute their sentimental value. It would be wrong to single City out, as Chelsea’s recent success is built on exactly the same model. Rules from UEFA to bring expenditure inline with turnover cannot come soon enough. Then real Blues and City fans can get their club back. If you think these are the ramblings of a sentimental fool, try singing “Ooh ah Sheikh Mansoor” with any conviction.