Manchester City - City Fans Cop The Flack But Who's To Blame?
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City Fans Cop The Flack But Who's To Blame?

Music maestro and Vital Manchester City regular, Roy Harper sent us the following.

There's an idea floating about that Robinho could go to Inter in a straight swap deal for Balotelli. I thought that it'd be a good idea about two weeks ago, but then I remembered the racial abuse thing at Inter.

It might be out of the frying pan into the fire for Robinho to go there. Potentially dangerous for the 'career' of one so sensitive.

Lots of unanswered questions

There are the wages too. It doesn't seem to me like he'd want to take that much risk. Not even if we offered them a straight swap plus a few £million for his wages. Inter would want to bite our hand off, of course, but would he want to go?...If he thought about it.

And how good/bad IS Balotelli? It's so contentious I don't think it can happen. It has to be separate deals even if Inter want him, otherwise it's just clogging the movement of players in this window. But things have moved on again.

I notice that in the last few days that 'we', the fans of MCFC are under the national cosh again over the unresolved matter between Robinho and Manchester proper. A lot of us see the damage he's causing by still being 'owned' by us. Some want to keep him. HE clearly doesn't want to be here. We don't really think the management wants him to be here. Santos, Brazil and Abu Dhabi probably don't want him to be here. Most of the fans who knew about him at the time wouldn't have paid really serious money for him either. Certainly I wasn't enthusiastic. So, MCFC fans cop the flack, but who's really to blame?

Sparky's puzzled look

Well, the management at City didn't buy him. I remember clearly the puzzled look Mark Hughes gave to the cameras when he and Robinho met at the airport. The 'declaration of intent'/marquee signing was actually a forgivably tasteless move made by a stupidly rich young man who is probably now just beginning to learn that, in reality, the world works in a slightly different way.

The depth of your wallet can often determine how good looking the woman on your arm is. The breadth of the wallet may also determine whether she wants to keep you or not. If she doesn't, and you've stupidly signed a long contract with her, without even having her on your arm in the first place, then you have to hope that one of your equally rich acquaintances can take her off your hands (arm). Not necessarily because you can't afford her, but because you can't be seen to be so openly profligate.

Wastefulness in itself is un-businesslike and invites not only loss of face, but justified criticism. No matter whether you can afford it or not you become a world-renowned flash basket.

If your aim in life is to become football's version of Simon Cowell, then great. But if you're carrying the hopes and aspirations of a community football club with over a century of pedigree to its credit, then some in that community will begin to doubt yours.

Few idiot fan websites

The few idiot fans won't know the difference. They'll build web pages with titles like "We've got Moronho". Meanwhile, back at the ranch, ALL the fans are tarred with the same tasteless brush. And are despised and lampooned by other fans. So, are the City fans to blame? Especially for supporting a team they've supported since before the rich young owner was born?

Well, they only acquire blame by becoming acquiescent to everything the young owner does. If they have a voice, or care to acquire one, then there's at least a chance that they will be able to convey something of the original spirit of the club to the Executive (board), AND, to the greater football community.

If they don't wish to acquire a voice, then by default, they agree that their club is a complete autonomy, the only practical operation of which is to dictate from the top down. That there is no voice except that of the owner and his hired hands. That, in effect, Manchester City Football Club has nothing to do with the people who follow it or the collective character and will of their locality at all. It might as well be North Korea FC or Portsmouth FC, (but profoundly not FC Barcelona).

Should the MCFC Board speak for us?

So, there's a couple of questions to ask. Do we think that it's right that the MCFC owner and board speak for us in every instance? Can we be fairly represented by independent outlets such as media news pages and fanzines? 'The noisy neighbours' have a green and yellow protest going at present, and Liverpool have had an ongoing 'Yanks Out' campaign.

Are we all so dutifully ambivalent that we would never presume to have an alternative voice to the one being fed from on high to the Daily Drivel, and regurgitated in a long series of defamatory 'Moneybags' and 'Big Spenders' articles? Or don't we give a shirt? Just so long as the game's followed by a keg of Bud and some god-awful Dorothy being slagged off on the Y-Factor for having visible dog breath.


Is the answer to form a supporters club that's independent enough to be able to be publicly critical of the board? (It would have to have access beyond that which an autocracy would normally grant). Is there a way of doing that through the council planning dept?

An information for permission type of exchange, where each keeps the other aware of their dealings, with a certain amount of information being accessible to responsible people. Or is the danger represented by fifth columnists a non-starter in the Gulf? Or don't you think you could, or should, ever attempt to rock any boat you're a virtual passenger on?

If you don't think you should ever rock any boat, then be prepared to listen to stuff like this...'City fans, I know you've got money coming out your ears...' (Football Spy 5/8/10) for the rest of your lives.

Robinho + £10M to Inter or Balotelli?

Finally, is the fantasy of being rich worth being the most reviled fans in history? The management may save us from this acrimony by refusing Balotelli and the rest, or by negotiating on a fiscally feasible level. And by adopting a market-indexed yearly budget for all transfers, (excepting fees paid for the world's top ten players), with wage bonuses based on performance criteria.

Perhaps we do have a couple of windows yet before some of us are obliged to try to find a way of voicing something other than complete approval of MCFC Ltd. Some have already voted, with their feet, in all directions, to and from.

Robinho + £10M to Inter for Balotelli; a distant maybe, but Diego Forlan to City! Wow! Now you're talking. A great season would be assured, as would be my presence in east Manchester. What a player!! A one man team, even if he's in the last couple of years of his career. Which reminds me.. I don't care whether we come 4th or 10th, just as long as the games are inspiring.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: Roy Harper Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday August 7 2010

Time: 1:43PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
You might not care if you came 10th, but i'm sure a lot of other people would. The many people who would lose their jobs for example.
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07/08/2010 14:14:00

I blame Willy :)
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07/08/2010 14:15:00

I blame the obsessed Everton scum
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07/08/2010 14:23:00

Good article Roy.
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07/08/2010 14:32:00

A very good article and I can only hope an alternative voice of reason can be heard before the heart and soul is truely ripped out of the club.It,s becoming to akin to Barnum's circus.
Spud 1
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07/08/2010 15:10:00

Fantastic article. I must say, Hats Off to (Roy) Harper!
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07/08/2010 15:42:00

I see mark still hasn't found his sense of humour!
Vanilla Ice
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07/08/2010 15:44:00

The few idiot fans won't know the difference. They'll build web pages with titles like "We've got Moronho". Meanwhile, back at the ranch, ALL the fans are tarred with the same tasteless brush. And are despised and lampooned by other fans. Your on here writing your views and asking the City faithful questions ? Are they the only ones that matter ? A lot of these idiot fans as you put it do it as a hobby for their love of City or are you the only one allowed that also ? Finally Reading this I'd swear you think that you own the club. Dissapointed at vital publishing this to be honest .
Brian Roban
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07/08/2010 16:19:00

I think he is alluding to the fact that people take more notice of the brash and uncompromising nature of some of the outspoken fans and targeting ALL of our supporters - while actually the majority are nothing like these. In some quarters it seems like we have become a nouveau riche overnight sensation. This does not represent the 95% of supporters who have the decency for a bit of modesty and the ones who are despereate for the club to continue our successful youth policy, and the fans that will still be making their way to Eastlands every week even if everything went to pot and we slip back down the leagues. The heart and soul of City is well and truely intact - and this is evident in the 100% of poll users who said that they think we should drop our interest in Milner because the fee was rediculous. We may be the richest club in the world but we havent lost the plot - or moure importantly, our dignity.
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07/08/2010 16:38:00

I agree with eightism and for the article to suggest the club may have lost its spirit is harsh and couldn't be further from the truth. The soul of the club is the fans. We're in a position of power with our financial backing at the moment and there will be all sorts of opinions about us most of which won't be flattering. This is the time to develop thick skins(as if we didnt alredy have that) cos with the extent of animosity towards us atm, you're bound to start doubting your own club if you pay it any mind.
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07/08/2010 17:15:00

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I am not sure I agree with yours Roy (although it's formulated mainly through questions). Firstly Robinho, has not been a waste of money. Ok at first sight you might think that given that he only really played 1 season then went off on loan, but the value of his buy was so much more than the nr of games he played and goals he scored. Robinho was THE marquee signing, a proof of intent that put Manchester City on the map internationally and helped attract other top quality players - it was a necessity if City was to break into the Bigtime. Regarding the owner, you seem to depict him as this spoiled brat with no business acumen just here to waste his money for fun, again I don't agree with you. I think this is the image the tabloids have tried so hard painting and by the looks of it they've been ever so successful. For me the owner is a businessman who knows what he's doing - he's got rid of City's entire debt, Carrington's been rejuvinated, the academy is a the centre of the business philosophy, every single department within the club has been professionalized. The investment that we're doing in players also increases the value of the club, I am sure that if Sheik Mansoour decided to sell the club tomorrow he'd make a healthy profit even with having had to pay over the odds for some players in order to achieve success quickly. Now regarding the fans, I don't think MCFC are preventing us from voicing our opinions, it's a democracy we can do as we like, but what exactly would you want us to do? congregate in front of Eastlands with banners pleading for the Sheik to stop his investments so we don't have to take the jealousy from other fans or the crap from the Newspapers anymore? yeah why don't you try doing that, I'm sure you'll be pretty alone - not because city fans are afraid to rock the boat or don't have any share of voice - but simply because most are satisfied with what is happening at our club.
Blue ponderer
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07/08/2010 17:33:00

This is the same attitude thats leading to talk of 'too many foreigners in the PL', i wish all foreign players would disappear from the PL by tomorrow and see how exciting it leaves the PL, point is, theres no need trying to fix something thats not broken and if you think MCFC is somehow broken to the extent of needing sthg like a green and yellow or yanks out campaign, you've been reading too much tabloid rubbish. The club is not going to respond to every single media drivel which comes with the territory we're in now, that doesnt mean they approve of it.
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07/08/2010 17:35:00

Bit harsh Roy! Only yesterday the club held their Family Fun Day with free admission to watch the players train at Eastlands. Ticket prices have remained reasonale in relation to other PL clubs. We have the City in the community project, the deal with Hyde Utd to help improve their facilities and the investment made in tying to improve the matchday experience for the fans. These are just a few examples of projects and incentives from the club for the good of the MCFC community. If anyone's to blame for City fans copping slack it's the cretins in the media, they know what the jealous rival fans want to hear and they're only to happy to oblige, by sensationalising and lying about City at every given opportunity.
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07/08/2010 20:55:00

A thought provoking article if ever there was one, superbly written Roy! This has been a hell of a couple of years and there is still an air of us living a kind of dream. I sometimes think I'll wake up and find us back in 99 facing the likes of Gillingham! For the record, from within the club, and from what I've seen myself in there, I have faith in the club moving in the right direction on a social community level. Alex Williams and CITC do fantastic work and long may it continue. As for what is going to happen from when the whistle blows at WHL next lunch time, where we are well overdue a win, any Blues guess is as good as mine!
Johnny Baguette
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07/08/2010 22:01:00

Our owners are on a rather steep learning curve, and in some ways the signing of Robinho was a salutary lesson to them. Let's face it, Robinho was bought in haste ( as the takeover had only just happened)- without the usual checks on his personality etc.. We needed a world class talent, and Robinho was the only one available under the circumstances. Unfortunately for us, while their is no denying his talent, his head is clearly not right! I agree with the posters who said that RObinho was a statement - I';m sure more football fans around the world had heard of him than had heard of us at the time. So Robinho was a risk that backfired, and we will inevitably lose money on him. But our owners were not being flash, they were launching a marketing campaign to get us noticed, and it clearly worked. As to our other signings? We are being forced to pay over the odds for many players (though not all) simpy because everyone knows exactly how much our owners are worth. So if we want to fast-track our way to the top, we are going to have to pay some hefty fees. I believe the one of the main reasons Hughes was sacked was that our owners were not convinced that a number of his signings were delivering value for money. But to blame our owners for fashing too much cash is a bit wide of the mark, as we are not the ones setting the transfer fees, nor will this spending continue.
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07/08/2010 22:55:00

Sure it's harsh, and I noted that when I posted it, but it's a seed that's now planted. And most of you make good points. But it's written with the gutter press in mind. They don't read these things we write on fan sites, because there's reams of it, and they consider themselves to be above it, but just in case any of them do slum it now and again, they have to be aware of the fact that clubs like ours are full of people who are able to think beyond football. What's beyond football? People are. People who can experience the 'cut and paste' society we are part of, but who don't represent it in the way that they do. I've always questioned where I'm at, and how I relate to that. That's healthy. I have nothing against the owner, he's done a lot of great things here, but I'm not sure I'd trust him in the same way I would, say, Bobby Robson. If you remember, he first turned up in the guise of Sulaiman Al-Fahim, who, believe it or not, is feted and honoured around the world. We have a great club here, but silly me, I thought that it was great before ADUG arrived. What's happening at the club is great. I love it; but I'd love the club anyway, and yes, I do own it, along with about half a million others, and there's lots to think about that, like, well, Robinho as collateral.. and a statement; all in one. Lots more to say on that. I feel another bout of qwerty coming on, but I've got things to do. Forgive me, it was a bit harsh, but I'm someone who's had the experience of losing a voice or 2, and "We've got Kakinho", although I recognise it to be a truly significant pop statement of early 21st century Manchester, is not the kind of sentiment that I necessarily want to be around for that much longer. It's not as though it's as seminal as Peggy Sue... And I'm not being elitist, those things are great and funny in small doses, I just don't need to be wading through that kind of shirt all the time, and I've said that all my life. It's like having the same Bernard Manning joke on replay for 2 years. Later..
roy harper
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08/08/2010 02:15:00

Fair comment Roy, and like you say the seed is planted. Your original piece has certainly got me thinking. I also agree that to question where we're at is healthy, if we bury our heads in the sand( no pun intended ), we're in danger of losing sight of what's important to the Club and the fans moving forward. I look forward to reading your contributions in the future, as like I said about this one, they really get me thinking, Cheers!
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08/08/2010 15:21:00

No one's going to be following this thread now but just as a footnote, I'd like it to be noted that I was at fault in using the word 'idiot' in the way that I did. If I'd have used 'boisterous' instead, then what I said couldn't have been perceived as insulting, which it wasn't intended to be, of course. I really should read things a couple of times before I post. Sometimes my use of language is a bit slack. Apologies to all those offended by this.
roy harper
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09/08/2010 00:31:00


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