Yes, I know I grew up a United fan but it is particularly difficult to drum up much sympathy for Manchester City at the moment.
It’s not their fault they hit the jackpot, and their arrival as live contenders in this fascinating title race has given the whole quilted rug of English football a good shake. I guess it’s just envy.
The lairy lottery winners have moved in next door to the stuffy old residents of Millionaires’ Row and built more extensions than Cheryl’s got. Noisy neighbours who have rows in the street and break-up and make-up on a weekly basis. I went off Shameless the moment the Maguires arrived on the Chatsworth estate, and this feels a bit the same.
I did my first ever telly commentary at Maine Road. City 5 United 1. I was the only Red in captivity who grew a soft spot for the Blues too. (I feel like Tony Soprano ‘fessing up to Dr Melfi here.) The thing is I’m of an age where change grates on the feelings, and the move to Eastlands and the open arms for Thaksin Shinawatra were already a bit much to take. Now this. Now, the supporters with the best gallows humour in football are sounding brasher and more boastful than United fans – which is saying something.
So watching Leighton Baines (that is the same Leighton Baines, isn’t it?) and co prick the Carlos bubble last night was not an uncomfortable experience. I always thought Tevez would return to the fold. He just wants to feel loved.
Balotelli is from another solar system altogether, though. I fancy that will end in tears. I’ve always been uneasy about the way Robbie (is it, Sky?) Mancini arrived in the job and he is just somehow not a man I’m constantly yearning to see succeed.
Please don’t let this manager get the City wagons in a circle and nurture a ‘no-one likes us but we don’t care’ mentality. People have always liked City. Throughout my life, they’ve been one of those ‘proper’ clubs like West Ham and Sunderland – kids through the system, locals through the turnstiles, putting their fans through the mill but always coming out the other side still recognisable as the same club with the same personality.
The funny thing is I was dying for Adam Johnson to turn the game round just to spite the scarfed one. The same well-worn instincts that make me suspicious of Robbie and Super Mario get good feelings about Johnson, Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany.
I guess they are just what an old blogger like me sees as ‘City players’ – good guys. And maybe good guys finish second and I’m just nervous about this City finishing first.
Confession over, for now…