The Bumper Bundle of City Slurs: The Journalist Files (Part 1)
A long time ago, in a place not very far away, some wise men came from the east to transform an ailing football club. City fans couldn’t believe their luck, and thanked every fictional god for their change of fortune. Not everyone took it so well though. Rival fans were predictably none too pleased as the death-knell was rung on football as we knew it, but plenty in the media took an instant dislike to the blues too. Here’s the first part of a selection of buffoonery from Her Majesty’s press over the past 6 years. Sit back and enjoy.
All excerpts in bold are my favourite bits…..
It starts with a match report. I wouldn’t wipe my backside with the Sun newspaper (it would be impractical anyway), but this was the sort of coverage you could expect in the early days of the new regime. Neil Custis took a particular dislike to all Brazilians (the players at least)…
Neil Custis Match Report
Robinho was left on the bench and as for that waster Elano, the sooner Hughes gets him out the better. A sub once again, Elano pranced around like a pop diva as he warmed up. He even kissed a young fan on the head, causing more little ones to queue up in the hope of the same. Who on earth does he think he is? When he and fellow Brazilian Robinho saw Ireland put City ahead on 28 minutes, they just stood still and clapped. Would you really want this pair in the trenches fighting alongside you? When Robinho finally came on just past the hour mark, he responded with one weak effort on goal. Pathetic.
It is a shame he and Elano have not got the passion that Ireland displays.
Others though have spent six years praying for City to fail. Bless ‘em.
Ian Winwood, Daily Mirror
Dear Santa Claus,
Santa, my request this year is quite simple: I was wondering if it might be possible for you to ensure that Manchester City are relegated from the Premier League?
….Basically, I would like Manchester City to be relegated for the good of football itself. I have nothing against the second team in England’s third city, apart from the fact that they are the latest club to believe that the recipe for football greatness contains just one ingredient: money.
Down at the City of Manchester Stadium – the Middle Eastlands, if you prefer – there is crazy money – and with it, crazy talk. There’s mindless chatter of triumph and glory, of capturing every great football currently playing the game, just like those cartoon aliens did with basketball players in the film Space Jam.
There’s talk of £200,000 a week contracts, maybe more. It might not come to this, but you can bet your offshore holding account that Frank Lampard’s £130,000 a week at Chelsea will soon be eclipsed.
10 years ago, would you have believed that some players would be making a million pounds every eight weeks?
No? Well, what’s to say that these things won’t continue to defy belief?
I want Manchester City to be relegated simply because no one really believes that it can happen. Relegation doesn’t happen to the rich clubs, so it seems; it’s for the Stoke City’s and West Brom’s of this country.
But most of all I want City to go down because they are the just the latest bad example football is setting for a whole new generation of fans. They spread the idea that being a football fan is only about one thing, and that thing is success.
Worse still, it seems that the only thing that can buy this success is money.
United fans took a similar different viewpoint, their argument somewhat at odds with the fact that the football club they tried to deride was founded in the 19th century. They weren’t very big on irony either, as the following shows:
Rick Boardman of the band Delphic said in a interview, talking about City fans:
“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.”
But it’s not just about history where United dominate City of course. It’s also about the most important factor in any club’s standing in the game – global popularity. This gem appeared on manutdtalk.com in July 2009:
Man Utd are bigger than Man City ever will be.
(carefully selected excerpts)
My recent trip to Malaysia to watch Manchester United’s pre-season friendly against a Malaysian XI highlighted why this club is so great and why Man City are decades away from usurping Manchester United – and there is only a small, tiny, improbable chance of that happening.
Arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Friday morning, my mates and I bumped into fellow reds, who promptly redirected us to the Bunga Raya VIP complex. There we met Man Utd fans from all over Asia: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Vietnam.
Fans of all ages and backgrounds were there to greet our heroes. Some waited for hours just to get a glimpse of their heroes. Luckily for me, we were late and so only had to wait a short while before seeing Giggsy and co. How many fans would turn up to greet Man City at an airport in Asia?
Does Man City even have an Asian fan cub outside of Thailand?
The next stop was to book in at our hotel and rest before heading for the training session that afternoon. An estimated 40,000 people showed up just to watch the reds train!
How many people would turn up to watch a Man City training session?!
The next day, a whopping 100,000 people showed up to see their heroes in action!
As former British colonies, there are really only two teams that matter in Malaysia and Singapore – Manchester United and Liverpool. The same pretty much applies for most of Asia.
Bitter rival fans simply cannot comprehend how deeply the love for these two clubs runs in the veins of Asian fans.
This kind of passion is built up over decades.
Fans from all over the world have been taking Manchester United to their hearts for decades. They have done so because of the swashbuckling football, because of the heroic players, because of Sir Matt Busby’s ability to turn the nightmare of Munich into the fairytale of Wembley and because of all the amazing moments in the Theatre of Dreams.
Modern day rivals like Chelsea and now Man City still have to earn that right. That honour of being truly established in the hearts of fans around the world. United has a rich history of iconic players like Best, Law, Charlton, Whiteside, Robson, Bruce, Keane, Cantona, Giggs, Scholes, Cleverley, Beckham and more recently Rooney as well as Ronaldo.
Who do Chelsea or City have?
Even if Man City have the financial clout to buy a star-studded squad like The Galacticos, it doesn’t guarantee success and it doesn’t guarantee a loyal GLOBAL fan base like United has, because United earned that fan base with its history, legendary players, attacking football and yes, clever marketing. But unlike Chelsea and now Man City, United were not bank-rolled. No, United enjoyed the fruits of their own labour and foresight.
I do not begrudge Man City fans the right to be positive about the future and I do think it’s reasonable to say that they will be challenging for honours soon, but what I take exception to is the exaggerated statements about Man City nearly being a bigger club than Manchester United.
Boys…. You are decades away from even getting close to Manchester United!
Man City supporters are simply kidding themselves if they think they are going to magically become bigger than United or even a top four club overnight.
Man City will do well to get into the top 6 this coming season and they might well challenge for honours in the near future, but please, please spare me the nonsense that you are a bigger club than Man United.
You are decades away from usurping us – and there is a very slim chance of that happening.
You do not have the players, nor do you play the kind of football that captures people’s imaginations and most of all, you cannot buy class or an identity.
The little shred of identity that Manchester City had went out the window when you decided to bend over and remain silent when Thaksin bought your club and then sold it to the Arabs.
Who are the real glory hunters?
Contrary to popular belief Manchester United built their success on good policies and good management. Man City spent £180million more than United and still were a mid-table club last season. You can buy mercenaries, but you cannot buy class.
Decades, boys. Decades….
(oh ok, I admit I added the Cleverley bit…)
But with things progressing nicely, there was still plenty to criticise City over, and not just off the pitch. Emmanuel Adebayor’s ASSAULT on Robin Van Persie (he could have been killed) for example made the headlines for over a week. The fall-out from his goal celebration against the same time rumbled on for even longer:
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.”
Simon Hattenstone said “If even now all he wants to do is take out his revenge with his studs and provoke crowds into riots what’s he going to be like when things go bad?”
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.”
Henry Winter: “So whose emotion do you want most in football? A multi-millionaire itinerant footballer crowing in the face of erstwhile employers who nurtured him, paid him handsomely and cherished him until he was tempted away by riches elsewhere, or fans momentarily allowing their passions to run away with them in defending their club? Thursday’s decision by the Football Association not to punish Emmanuel Adebayor for inciting Arsenal supporters at Eastlands on Sept 12 is devoid of logic, defies police evidence and makes a mockery of its chief executive’s stance.
In every sense, Adebayor went too far. A one-game ban would have reminded him and his immature peers of that. It’s not difficult.”
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.
If he’d done that in the street, etc etc……
Over at the Guardian, there was one journalist that kept providing little nuggets of gold. Step forward Paul Wilson:
“They (City) keep trying to throw squillions of pounds at marquee signings who plainly prefer staying where they are…”
“Younger players who could give City some of their best years and still have a trade-on value….that is the very blueprint United are now following, while City seem to have abandoned the notion…”
“Throwing suitcases full of bank notes at a new trickster…”
“They (United, in the transfer market) accept defeat with dignity and look elsewhere.”
“It is not United’s style to lay siege to rival clubs or try to wear down their star players with repeated offers..”
“City could learn a lesson or two in humility from their illustrious neighbours.”
“None of the top-four managers seem unduly concerned by project Eastlands…”
“City have just paid top whack for a United reject…” (Tevez)
“With Ferguson you can be pretty sure you will get one an answer. He answers questions directly – at least when in a good mood and away from the immediate stresses of the season proper. Get Fergie to chat and you are bound to end up with something interesting…”
“The first is that he (Ferguson) enjoys talking about football, and will happily deal with sensible questions instead of regarding press conferences as an unpleasant chore…”
“Fergie even has City fans hanging on his every word….”
“….the Everton chairman must realise that sooner or later City will come calling for Moyes. Being City, they will probably aim for José Mourinho first, yet top Champions League managers tend to go to top Champions League clubs and City have never kicked a ball in the Champions League.”
And then the big news began to filter through. A little nondescript club called Manchester City had bid over £100m to buy a footballer. They were going to offer him half a million pounds a week, and lots of other stuff too. The transfer amount changed during the day. It went up to £150m, back down to £120m, back up again, and so did the wages. At one point he was rumoured to be earning almost as much as a mediocre film star or a racing driver. Football was being read its final rites. This club weren’t in the Big Four. They weren’t in the epic Champions League every season, weren’t part of the G14 (R.I.P.). They didn’t even have members on the FA Board. They certainly didn’t usually feature in Sky Sports’ Special Super Grand Slam Spectacular Sunday.
So back to the Sun we go and another piece of award-winning journalism.
WHERE ARE THE A-LISTERS AT CITY?
(Steven is the Sun’s CHIEF SPORTS WRITER. The crème de la crème. This guy has muscled his way to the top past quality writers like Neil Custis, or that other Custis ( the one who wanted David Beckham as England manager)).
THEY were the club who announced they intended to sign Lionel Messi, Kaka, Cesc Fabregas and Juventus keeper Gigi Buffon.
Oh, yes, and Cristiano Ronaldo was also on his way to Manchester City – in the January 2009 transfer window for £135million.
As the Manchester United fans waiting for the tram that would take them back into the city centre after the 3-0 win over Newcastle last Monday chanted: “They wanted Kaka and got Bellamy – City are a massive club.”
To date Sheikh Mansour has splashed £355m on transfer fees, including £130m in the close season alone.
Throw in £488m in wages, the £210m cost of the takeover and a further £20m capital expenditure and we’re already up to an incredible £1billion.
Yet City still can’t get the mega-stars. Instead, they have been forced to settle for second best. It’s David Silva not David Villa. It’s Mario Balotelli not Fernando Torres.
The same David Silva who will remember Spain’s World Cup-winning triumph in South Africa as the time he lost his place in the starting line-up.
There are also massive question marks over holding midfielder Yaya Toure (£24m) plus defenders Jerome Boateng (£10.5m) and Alexsandar Kolarov (£16m).
Yet the key to buying the title is an out-and-out goalscorer.
As Blackburn proved when they broke the British transfer record by signing Alan Shearer for £3.3m in 1992-93.
As Chelsea confirmed in 2004 when they paid a club record £24m for Didier Drogba, the hottest young striker in Europe.
City are paying through the nose for supporting cast players.
Top of the bill headliners like Messi, Kaka and Ronaldo remain as elusive as ever.
Mark Lawrenson questioned how City could be throwing obscene amounts of money in trying to sign Kaka:
“At a time when people have been left devastated by the credit crunch, football is in danger of shooting itself in the foot. It would be bad enough during a boom time, but during these tough economic times it is sick. If City do this then they will lose the sympathy and support of fans who will begin to question the morality of how someone can spend that sort of money on a player rather than build a new hospital or pay for some lifesaving medical care. People will turn round and say: ‘The world has gone mad. I’m not sure about football any more’. How would you feel if you can’t pay the bills while a player at your club is on mind-boggling money?”
Lawrenson was right. I lost count of the number of fans that came up to me in the street in 2009 and said to me, “the world has gone mad. I’m not sure about football any more.”
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor then told the world of his disapproval of City’s bid for Kaka.
“It is a bit bizarre that, in these times of credit crunch, we are talking about a club paying £100m for one player,” he said.
“One of the things we have to ask is…is football sending out the right signals given the current financial climate? Football needs to set a good example to the rest of the world, as we do with our anti-racism programmes and community projects. Football cannot be immune from the credit crunch and whilst City are an exception to the rule, the game has a duty to show financial propriety at this moment in time.”
(Apropos of nothing, Gordon Taylor is the highest paid union official in the world. Taylor earns a £1million yearly salary – five times the remuneration of the second highest-paid union official and around ten times that of the average League Two player.)
Andy Gray had an opinion, naturally.
“If Manchester City’s pursuit of Kaka suggests one thing it is that football is losing touch with the real world and the genuine supporter. Don’t get me wrong. I am excited as anyone about the prospect of seeing the Brazilian in the Premier League BUT it has to be for the right reasons and at a sensible price of £50m-£60m.”
What Andy was saying was that if City signed him for £60m, it was a sensible deal. But if City signed him for £100m, football was dead.
The time had come for Simon Hattenstone to enlighten all City fans.
“Arsène Wenger says Manchester City are not in touch with the world, that we’re destroying football and the global economy by creating inflationary pressures in deflationary times, that we lack values and have no sense of reality. How dare he?
Very easily, in fact. And any true Manchester City fan, however hungry for success, would agree with the Arsenal manager.
For years I despised Chelsea for bringing the crass loadsamoney culture to football. Now City, my life-long club, are making Chelsea look positively Shylockian. City have been a comedy club for years, but people used to laugh with us rather than at us. Not now. A billion quid a week for Kaka and it looks as if he might be coming. And he calls himself a Christian. Jesus.
Ah, but these are exciting times at City, enjoy, friends tell me, roll with it, as those Oasis boys would say. Pardon me? Being knocked out of the League Cup by Brighton, hammered in the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest and perilously close to the drop zone is exciting?
No, exciting times were doing the double over Manchester United last year, and challenging for a top-four slot for half the season with a hybrid team of homegrown kids and foreign imports. But let’s not be rose-tinted.
So to yesterday, and our Abu Dhabi saviours who announced they were going to sign up a 20-strong squad of £30m plus players as if that were a guarantee of success, and that they were going to break all records in terms of transfer fees and wages, as if that in itself was a measure of success.
I still can’t believe Kaka will sign. I don’t want to believe that one of the world’s leading footballers would stoop so low as to join us. But say he does, and just say we go on to buy up the entire Brazil squad for a few trillion quid, and they did gel, and we did win the league with the most expensive team ever assembled, would it really feel like a triumph? I hope not.”
Matt Hughes went further. By even entertaining the notion of moving to Manchester City he said the Brazilian was jeopardising his reputation as a high-class footballer consumed by chasing the biggest prizes and risks cheapening his status to that of a mere mercenary. It would be a tacit acceptance that his earning potential was more important than his achievements. It would be sad to see him effectively abandon his professional aspirations in his mid-twenties.
Strangely, such worries were absent when Real Madrid were rumoured to be paying £100m for Ronaldo, or when Chelsea themselves bid 100m euros for Kaka in 2006.
Another concern that had the nation frothing at the mouth was the sad demise of the club’s youth academy, which was definitely going to decline now, as City would never play a youth player again and the England team, which contained no City players and had had no success for over 40 years, was now going to suffer as a result.
Bobby Robson had his say (disgusted), as did Alan Shearer (dismayed), Dave Whelan (shocked), Ian Wright (outraged), Joe Royle (upset), Martin O’ Neill (quizzical), Paul Merson (confused) and of course Alex Ferguson (dismissive). In fact, Sky Sports News asked every Premiership manager for his opinion.
Gordon Waddell was furious, as shown in his article entitled “Football will die if Manchester City sign Kaka”.
“When Manchester City sign Kaka, stick it in your diary as the day the people’s game died forever. When a footballer is paid enough to keep a factory of 1000 people in wages for a week? In this economic climate?
Kaka’s good – great, even – but the Brazilian is human.
That’s why his signing has nothing to do with football.
And why it will spell the beginning of the end for a lot of punters.
I rarely wish failure on anyone but in this case I’ll make an exception. For the sake of the beautiful game.”
Kenny Burns was ill with revulsion.
“I CANNOT get my breath with all the talk of Manchester City paying more than £100m for AC Milan’s Kaka.
And paying him £500,000 a week.
The world and this country has gone completely mad. It is disgraceful, embarrassing, stomach-turning really.
This kind of money should be saved for throwing around to make star-studded teams on those computer games, not for the real world.
The owners should wake up and smell the coffee. There is a credit crunch on and the country is in meltdown.”
Martin Lipton in the Mirror was next in the queue.
“The snub could not have been more public, a bruising of Dubai pride that will take many months to ease.
But as Kaka last night effectively told Manchester City they may know the price of anything but understand the value of nothing, it may have been the best embarrassment the club will ever undergo.
And it could be the best thing that has happened to English football in years.
City were close to becoming the wealthiest laughing stock the game has ever known.
Trying to run before you’ve really learned to walk is an elementary error, the sort of mistake immature clubs with immature owners make.
City have tried to build a glittering palace before they even started to lay down the foundations.
Last night City looked what they are, jumped-up, arrogant and out of touch. But it could be the most important night of the new era – if they learn their lessons.”
And then along came “freelance journalist” Michael Henderson, to make an abject fool of himself.
“They might not be chortling in Miles Platting right now but everywhere else people are roaring. At a time of global uncertainty you can always rely on ‘Cit-eh’ to don red noses in the noble cause of cheering us all up, and they have not disappointed.
Being a laughing-stock in England was never enough for a club of such overwhelming ambition. Now, after a week of buffoonery unparalleled in the history of football, they have finally achieved the international recognition they craved for so long. Manchester’s little-regarded other team is now a laughing-stock throughout the world!
Comedians to the world! Even the great Morecambe and Wise couldn’t pull off that trick. Yet, by reducing Mark Hughes, a manager of some promise, to the rank of errand boy, endorsing a transfer policy that values Craig Bellamy at a cool 14 million smackers, and now, after the humiliation of Milan, hurling insults at one of the world’s grandest clubs, the former sportswear salesman (Cook) has won the gratitude of millions.
When the mouthpiece of a club synonymous with high-spending failure accuses Milan of lacking ‘sophistication’, it is surely time to start counting the spoons. To demean the club you represent so shamelessly in public does not merely insult Milan; it insults the game itself.
The mood may be changing because it is clear that a growing number of City fans are deeply ashamed of their club’s conduct.”
That was City told…….
To be continued…….