Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Manchester City FC

Before you carry on this is not my usual venomous attack on Manchester's smaller club. I will actually admit to having a few friends and three cousins who support 'the dark side' of Manchester, and I feel very sorry for them at the moment, as I actually do for all genuine City fans.

In 2005 a few thousand of us threw in our season tickets at Old Trafford in protest at the Glazer takeover of our beloved United. In reality the Glazers were the final straw, many of us had become pissed off with the ever growing commercialisation of the game, with Sky dictating kick of times and their money meaning clubs could afford to increasingly treat the fans like serfs while going for the high paying corporate 'customer'. Our clubs had become corporate monsters, a consequence of the mid-1980s when the FA turned their backs on their own rules as first Tottenham, then others, ceased to be football clubs and became PLCs, out to do nothing more than make a profit, then more profit and even more profit no matter how. Indeed Eric Cantona cited excessive commercialisation, especially of his name and image, as one of the reasons for his premature retirement.

In 2004 one of the biggest watersheds happened, the ultimate kick in the face for football's true fans. Wimbledon FC became an American style franchise and were moved to Milton Keynes, becoming the hated bastard club that is 'MK Dons'. Football had finally sold its soul. But the takeover of Wimbledon had spawned, in 2002, AFC Wimbledon, a club set up by true football fans, owned and run by them and now riding high in the Blue Square Premier.

Those of us in Manchester who had spurned United in 2005, after following them for decades home and away and throughout Europe, needed a new home. It felt like a particularly awful divorce. No more Old Trafford where I'd spent many happy, and some thoroughly miserable Saturdays since the early 1960s. No more terrifying experiences at derby games or at West Ham, or being tear gassed by French police in Lyon. No more flights from Manchester with my dad to see them in Athens, Munich, Madrid or Milan et al. What now?

A group of dedicated lads had already been thinking of a breakaway club since the early '90s, when Rupert Murdoch was circling like a shark. So the blueprint was dusted off and with help from AFC Wimbledon, Supporters Direct and others FC United of Manchester was born.

So back to City. One of the people advising on the birth of FC United was a Manchester City fan and journalist, David Conn. If you care about football and only make one resolution for 2010 please resolve to read his book The Beautiful Game? Searching the Soul of Football. It really is gut wrenching reading for the fans of any professional football club in the country.

Yesterday I had the misfortune to see Roberto Mancini's press conference when he was unveiled as the new manager of Manchester City. He seems a pleasant enough fella but, bear in mind, he has been in negotiations these last three weeks to become their manager while Mark Hughes was still managing them, and only losing two games this season. My view is that given the time United gave Alex Ferguson, Hughes could have succeeded, but that's for City fans to argue about.

What really made me wretch was the arrogant bastard called Garry Cook, the Chief Executive of Manchester City. Personally I wouldn't buy a penny Arrowbar off the creep and I suggest that Mancini keeps checking regularly between his shoulder blades.

Cook is one of those grey suited twats who seem to have no interest or awareness of football, but could have an orgasm at the sight of a healthy balance sheet. He kept stating how City are just like any other 'business'. Well tell that to somebody who was watching City from the Kippax in the '60s and '70s you nobhead. As Shankly said: "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." But Cook will never understand that statement, and I doubt he is human enough to even detect the irony.

He then explained the sacking of Hughes by explaining how they had done a "trajectory" of points for the rest of the season. That "trajectory" showed Hughes falling short of their targets at the end of the season. Well there speaks an accountant with no soul, no knowledge of human nature and less knowledge of football. Using Cook's "trajectory" method Wimbledon FC wouldn't have even entered the FA Cup in 1988, after all they could never win it. Could they? Wimbledon again.

So if, God forbid, I were a Manchester City fan I would now, if I hadn't already, be looking for another club. After all, Maine Road FC, formed by the City supporters club, is still going strong in the Vodkat League, where FC United were playing until a couple of seasons ago.

More and more fans around the country are turning away from the top flight, and it is actually very refreshing. Yes, occasionally you miss visits to the big clubs of England and Europe. But if I can't get to see FC United now, the next best thing is a trip to the Giant Axe, home of Lancaster City FC.

And I'm enjoying football more than ever now.

PS I've just found out that Cook's "trajectory", the one he cited Hughes as not being on target to achieve, was 70 points by the end of the season. They are currently on 29 points after 17 of 38 games. If they win their two outstanding games they will be on 35 points at the halfway stage. Perhaps Cook just finds the name Mancini more glamorous than Hughes. Or perhaps he thinks it's still only 2 points for a win!

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