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The A-Z of Manchester City Villains

February 25, 2014

Antic, Raddy. The first on this list and the first villain of my City-supporting life. A mere year into my bumpy journey with City and up popped Antic to condemn City to relegation and make me question if I had made the right allegiance, something I continued to question for a couple of decades. He was also responsible for David Pleat’s inclusion on the list, as you will see.

Ball, Alan. Where to start? A terrible, terrible manager and it seems that telling players you once won the World Cup doesn’t guarantee better performances. Who knew?  A flat-cap on the touchline is not a great look either, if I’m honest. There have been so many poor managerial appointments in City’s history (yes, we do have one), but Ball stands out for me.

Crerand, Paddy. There is a cast of thousands, and it would be easy to choose Eamonn Holmes, Clayton Blackmore, Lou Macari, Terry Christian, Mumford & Sons and many more, but if you were to choose one United sycophant who sees everything through red-tinted glasses, can never see any fault in their club and drones on repeatedly about history and the DNA/soul of their club, a DNA and soul that makes them more special than any other club, then this is your man, the man for all occasions.

Danny Mills. Need I say more? Well I will anyway. Happy to leech off the club for years and seems even happier to slate the club at every possible opportunity. I don’t know what he has against the club and I don’t care, but how the guy gets endless media jobs and onto an FA Commission is baffling.

Everton. Bogey club, c*ap restricted view, poor quality 100-year-old seats, a crowd baying for blood, with every decision that goes against them portrayed as a miscarriage of justice (see their booing of Lloris as he lay partially-unconscious on the pitch this season), and older fans will tell you what thugs a sizeable minority of them were in the 80’s, and thus their hatred for them. And then there was the CHOSEN ONE’s bleating over the Joleon Lescott transfer. For that alone they are on the list.
(and we lost 9-1 to them in 1906).

Ferguson, Alex. David Moyes or Alex Ferguson? A ruthless dictator who got more out of his teams than seemed feasible, the day of his retirement was a good day for City, Chelsea, Arsenal et al. In every sense of the word(s), good riddance. Check out his autobiography’s mentions of City if you are ever down, it will cheer you up no end (don’t buy it,obviously, just find the extracts).

Gene Kelly stand. Always amusing to watch other people dressed in cheap mackintoshes getting drenched, but come on – what a ridiculous addition to the old ground. An embarrassment, if truth be known.

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Halsey, Mark. Yeah, that’s right, Mark Halsey. Please spare me how he was a hero for the added time amount in the play-off final. The amount added on was correct, and merely him doing his job. Since then he seemed to go out of his way to give us nothing. Now he is whoring himself around in the pursuit of money and fame. So sod him.

Ian Rush – yes, City did what City do best by holding the ball in the corner when drawing a match they needed to win to avoid relegation, but if Liverpool had done their job and not put any effort in, as morally they should have done in a meaningless game for them (ahem), then perhaps the king of all cock-ups may never have occurred. Rush scored that day so I hold him especially responsible, in one of those irrational hatred things we all have.
(Don’t we?)

Jon Macken – for scoring one outrageous goal against City on a rainy day in Preston, thus convincing our profligate manager that you were worth spending £5m on. If only it had bounced wide.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Ah, the pied piper of the city-are-evil-and-are-killing-football-you-can’t-disrupt-the-status-quo-we-do-things-the-right-way-and-intend-to-keep-squashing-anyone-who-gets-in-our-way-and-we’ll-go-crying-to-UEFA-if-you-try-and-stop-us-or-perhaps-start-a-European-super-league brigade.
As Bayern Munich chief executive, Rummenigge likes nothing more than to bleat about City and not meeting financial fair play rules. Thankfully his bleating seems to have been in vain whilst his own club do things the right way, organically backed by huge corporations.
The Bundesliga is all that is good in football of course and you only have to mention the league to David Conn and a change of pants is required but the likes of Ruminegge have got their way and domestic and European domination has come to fruition for Bayern now. Mission accomplished.

League, Champions. Little known fact klaxon – in 1929, a young George Orwell wrote a book that was never published called 1992. In it, the anti-hero James Grimble was conditioned to like a “brave new world” by a constant stream of propaganda that was communicated through big screens (Orwell was a visionary). This new world had shiny balls, evocative opera-lite music blasted through huge speakers 24/7, and money. Lots and lots of money. Orwell called it the Champions League, a league for champions and all their powerful friends who weren’t champions but needed to stay powerful so they could keep trying to be champions along with their select group of friends. There was no resistence to this world that Orwell painted so evocatively and hauntingly. Resistance was, after all, futile.
And thus City, and so many other clubs, never had a chance of success anymore without a benefactor. The beautiful game.

Michel Platini. The devil himself, in human form. The greatest trick Platini ever pulled….
I don’t know if Platini is angry because he has a woman’s name or he genuinely thinks Financial Fair Play is a good thing, but the fact is it addresses few of the issues in the modern game (it would not have prevented Portsmouth’s woes, for example), helps maintain a status quo and was introduced only after pressure was applied from Europe’s most powerful clubs, which tells you all you need to know.Any footballing great is diminished in my eyes when he becomes a politican, and that is all he is now, the rights and wrongs of the game of little concern as long as he gets along in life.

Newspapers. They all have it in for City, right? Well not really, but they sure make life difficult for City, as with any other sporting institution. From the stupid press conference questions, the agendas, the lies, the appalling agent-led transfer gossip to the pitiful opinion pieces from the likes of Harry Redknapp, Brian Reade or Ian Wright, we really would be better off without a swathe (but not all) of our football press.

Office, ticket (Maine Road). Only City could have an outside ticket office in the rainiest City in the country. The night the League Cup match v Ipswich was abandoned due to Paul Dickov almost drowning, I queued for my ticket outside a portakabin for 30 minutes, and have been dryer than I was that night when submerged in a bath. I haven’t been the same since.

Pleat, David. Faster than a kerb-crawling car, David skipped across the Maine Road pitch in his loafers and one of the first memories of my City-supporting life was etched indelibly on my brain. He hugged Brian Horton on his travels that day, but Brian’s a lovely bloke so I’ll let him off. The  previously mentioned 1-0 home defeat to Luton in 1983, condemning City to relegation from the top flight was a perfect example of what was to come. I’ve always held an irrational grudge against Pleat ever since, probably fortified by the opinion that he is a terrible co-commentator who can’t pronounce the simplest of names.

Quinn, Niall. Another player that makes it onto the Heroes & Villains list, once I realised this is a stupid way to compile a list (wait until you see the Z entry!). Quinn gets in for his new role as simpleton-sidekick to Martin Tyler, his inane ramblings and his ability to talk drivel about City never a joy to behold. Where United have ex-pros scattered throughout the media ready to fight their corner with ludicrous levels of prejudice and bias, here is yet another ex-player all too eager to stick the boot in. I’m not saying pundits should be biased towards old teams, but everyone else’s ex-players seem to be, so why not ours? How have we managed to scar every single one of them?
(don’t answer that)

Revolving door. A metaphorical one. City’s inability to keep one manager for any considerable period of time added to their many woes for decades and prevented any chance of stability at the club. Many managers should never have got the job in the first place of course, but the odd diamond in the faecal matter rarely stayed for too long anyway.

Swales, Peter. City’s own pantomime villain. He meant well, he was after all a blue, but it’s fair to say there were some terrible decisions along the way, and the Granada TV documentary that followed him around makes for some painful (and I’ll admit, hilarious) viewing. The footage of John Bond’s interview for the manager’s job stands out. Swales’ reign was never going to end well and it turned out the grass wasn’t greener on the other side after all. A sad time for the club and for all concerned.

Tony Coton. Yes he is on the heroes list as well, but he left us for United, so big boos all round to him. Judas!

United, Manchester. Boo, hiss (see C,F and X for further details).

Villa, Ricky. Judging by the number of times I am subjected to it, it seems Villa scored the only great goal in the history of the FA Cup. None of us will ever be allowed to forget it. The magic of the FA Cup,eh?

Weah, George. It’s stretching the definition somewhat to call Weah a villain, but he is symbolic of City’s buying policy for much of the dark days of decades past. Purchasing players who used to be good was something City specialised in and Weah fit the bill perfectly, bringing with him a large pay packet (£30k a week). In the end, Weah played 3 full games for City, but at least he didn’t hang around for too long and thus cost the club that much money. By purchasing players in the twilight of their career the odd gem was acquired this way (Ali Bernarbia springs to mind), but plenty of duffers passed through also. I’m looking at you Steve McManaman.

X-rated tackles. Martin Buchan, Roy Keane. There’s a pattern developing here.

Yeboah, Tony. His wonder-strike (you know the one) stopped the miraculous possibility of a City player actually winning goal of the season. That’s all I’ve got. If you think that’s bad….

Z – the letter Z in the club shop printing section. Hear me out, it’s the biggest villain of all. Because of City’s influx of Georgian players, namely Georgi Kinkladze, Kakha Tskhadadze  and Murtaz Shelia, the club shop ran out of the letter Z for the back of shirts. This caused a slump in sales of shirts in the shop as Mr Kinkladze especially was the most popular name and as the club charged by the letter, was a money-spinner for the club at a time when money was scarce (hence Joe Royle’s suggestion to the board to sign the enigmatic Bulgarian playmaker Vladivar Romavaronichinov). Anyway, this slump in income was crucial in City’s failure to remain competitive. A succession of poor players bought on the cheap as a result of the failure to sell shirts eventually resulted in two relegations and put the club back over a decade, brought near bankruptcy and the exit from Maine Road. Few realise it was all little Georgi Kinkladze’s fault.

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If you missed the original A-Z list of City Heroes, you can find it here:

http://comeoncity.com/2013/10/the-a-to-z-of-city-legends/

You can buy my season review books here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=howard+hockin

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One Comment
  1. Mike Easyken permalink

    No J or P for Jamie Pollock?! An outrage! Enjoyable read as ever HH

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