Social media has made uncomfortable reading for City fans this week.
Unexpectedly bad result, season ticket price hikes, spoof sacking posts, gloating neighbours…
I’ve tried to avoid it but the fact is as someone who lives their life surrounded by gadgets every day I just haven’t been able to.
In many ways I have been lucky in that I don’t really follow any United players or fans on Twitter but I do follow the Journos and well, many of them have grabbed their pound of flesh this week and in some ways deservedly so. Dropping to 4th wasn’t part of the plan, and that may not yet be the worst of it given our ‘adverse points trajectory’ to quote a previously used phrase which eventually saw the end of Sparky. ‘Spend big in the summer to replace an aging team’ say some, ‘Take on UEFA over FFP’ said Gary Neville on Monday evening and therein lies the trouble.
The simple point of the matter is this team is getting older. Oh it’s not past it, not by any stretch of the imagination, it should really be top 2 with no trouble at all but it essentially has 3 problems attached to it.
1) Several of the team members have now won multiple trophies with the blues (I know who would have thought it as recently as 10 years ago) and questions are beginning to be asked about the manager’s ability to motivate them and best use their abilities. For example Milner’s almost certain departure on a free in the summer, Yaya’s continual ‘this week I love you all and want to stay for life, last week I’m unappreciated and want to move on’ mood swings and the quite visible tantrums throw by Dzeko and Nasri in recent weeks. The Charming Man’s often baffling tactical choices are not particularly helping either.
2) The pressure to be successful is greater than ever – As someone who followed home and away the season we went down to the 3rd tier it is difficult sometimes (even frustrating) to comprehend the level of bleating that goes on on Social Media. In fact it often irritates me to the point of putting it down for a while to cool off. The issue is I’m not in charge and instead the added pressure comes from the fact the owners aren’t interested in our former idiosyncrasies, they want a showcase for their country and it doesn’t reflect well when they’ve spent so much and come so far yet have to put up with an apparent barrage of criticism from all sides as a result of this years ‘failure’ by the team. While less volatile than some owners you can worry that the social pressure around the reflected glory or not on themselves will lead to a trigger being pulled somewhere, on someone, sometime soon.
3) Whether we like it or not it is possible that UEFA may have permanently blocked our path to a Champions League title… Oooo controversial! Some die hard blues might even say ‘don’t care!’ The inconvenient truth is we don’t have the funds to replace the aging team. I know, ridiculous right? Regardless of the press’ continuing complete seaming inability to workout the facts surrounding FFP some of us possess a few brain cells and can see that for at least the short term we will be behind the current European Giants of Real Madrid, Barca, Bayern Munich and yes even our neighbours.
What I’m trying to say on that final point is our owners bought us with a plan. That plan I would image was designed to run over an extended period of time to build up the strength of the team and develop a strong academy to feed into it. However, UEFA interfered, and that brought with it a couple of issues. Firstly it forced the owners to ‘rush the drawbridge’ to make it to the top table before the doors were shut permanently to new nouveau riche clubs. While that meant we got an instant boost of a great team it had the negative effect of inflating the market and marking us out as a team that was a flash harry and would pay over the odds for not exactly the cream of the crop. The second issue is that, that could never be sustainable. The academy is not yet ready, our owner’s extreme funds are unavailable to us through UEFA’s rules and while we start to rise in the revenue stakes up the list of European clubs the Euro Giants are still above us in their fan base, history and resultant revenue streams and will continue to be so for a while yet. The simple fact is thanks to UEFA – United, Real, Bayern and Barca will outspend us this summer and continue to have first dibs on the cream of the world’s footballers and therefore continue to dominate the European silverware.
In some ways it makes this weekend’s Manchester Derby even more vital. With United’s artificially protected firepower in the transfer market we need to outperform them for a few seasons to build the worldwide fan base and revenue to compete at the very top. Most of us thought that this season would see us continue to hold the upper hand. It might not now turn out that way and ‘the project’ would receive a severe blow as a result.
Should that happen I might have to give up my gadgets for the summer, and living in Bandit country like I do, I might even have to buy some earmuffs too.
That’s the problem with Evil Empires, they’re often harder to shift than you might imagine!!