Tuesday, 25 August 2009

From liked to loathed?

It seems that we've gone from being everyone's favourite second club (ie we weren't really a threat to anyone) to being 'loathed'. Well, that's Noel Gallagher's take on the matter. On the other hand, perhaps that's just his mate Russell Brand, a West ham fan.

Personally, I've found that people are intrigued by what is going on and want to know how on Earth Mark Hughes is planning on keeping all those strikers happy. I haven't met any frothing loathing. Yet.

If it's out there, then it's primarily a dislike of the nouveau riche – or as Noel put it, a rather British dislike of anything successful (and we haven't even had any success yet!).

But whether you like it or not, football has never been a level playing field – or we'd have records of Arsenal and Accrington Stanley playing on a par – and money has always been part of that equation. Okay, it's increasingly so. But then again, Liverpool used to buy players just to keep their opponents from signing them.

It just so happens that now it's us that has the dosh. Fortunately, as a new video interview on the club's website with chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, showed, the fans are at the centre of what's going on. And the thing is, that's what we actually feel. This is light aware from – dare I mention it – the bloody awful Peter Swales era or even that of Francis Lee after he started interfering in the team.

Saturday was fun – although I ended the day hoarse from groaning every time we missed an absolute sitter. And boy, did we miss enough of them.

On the journey up, the conductor stopped to tell me, at length and as an Arsenal fan, just how good Kolo Touré is. Another City fan, making the same pilgrimage, wanted my prediction on the score. Well, since I openly sport my club colours ...

Manchester was basking in sunshine. Blue skies welcomed us back home. Fortunately, I'd remembered in advance that my seat gets the afternoon sun, and I'd possibly want my sunglasses – I needed them.

But first, with plenty of time to spare, I enjoyed an amble around the stadium. The owners had promised to make further efforts to make it feel ever more like home – like ours. Last season, they'd had banners wrapped around the eight spiral stairwells that are such a feature of the stadium. Each one has the motto, 'Pride in battle', on it, together with the club badge. And the mosaic in the background is made up of the names of every season ticket holder. On Saturday, I finally found my name. There. On the stadium.

And with samba weather to revel in, we enjoyed some samba soccer. Okay, perhaps not as much as we'd have liked, but some delightful moves, some delicious flicks and then some real hustling. The latter was particularly true of new City darling Carlos Tevez, who chased down the Wolves goalkeeper, putting pressure on him, far more than we've seen from any player for years. And it was Tevez too who beautifully set up Emmanuel Adebayor's goal in the 17th minute. Which turned out to be the winner.

But even the lack of further concrete reward – and almost letting Wolves back in the game – still saw us record our second successive Premier League clean sheet – a third in eight days if we include the midweek Barcelona friendly, which had clearly taken a toll on Stephen Ireland for one.

All of which made the journey home an easy one – helped by the massive works in the midlands finally having been completed: this time last year, the journey would have been around five hours each way. Now it takes just over two.

I'll be away for the next few games, keeping tabs from the Continent.

And while I dread the idea of plastic fans and bandwagon jumpers, if the price of some success is less popularity with other fans, then frankly, after what Gallagher N described as "30 years of sheer pain", it's a sacrifice I'm prepared to make.

No comments:

Post a Comment