by Mike Devlin

Everyone loves a good villain, not just in fiction but also in real life, and because the same is true for football, enter stage right, Manchester City.

Putting aside the work in the community, the housing project weighing in at around 6,000 new homes in East Manchester, the stadium expansion, and the Academy where the future will come from, if you put all that aside just for a moment, it will give you enough time to scratch the surface whereby you will discover pure unadulterated evil – of the very smelly kind.

Where it once used to be reported that City were ‘buying the league’ (and let’s face it, any expenditure on a player that makes you better resulting in a title, is in effect ‘buying the league’, much like any team in the division – Manchester United buy Robin van Persie and win the league, for example; it’s a shocker, I know), that has now almost exclusively disappeared, and is now only heard from opposing fans that have ran out of common sense and have a very loose grasp of the English language. This has now been replaced in the media with … well, not so much ‘hate’, more like small digs here and there that are disguised as ‘honest opinion’. Or not, as in the case of SKY Sports, that dispensed with all subtleness and simply offered us a great big steaming pile of bullshit:

Article image 1

Obviously, Hart, Milner, Barry, Richards, and Lescott were unavailable for comment at the time, or were they all too busy polishing their medals from all those wins? Maybe next time, huh?

Sometimes, though, what appeared to be a balanced comment is very quickly rubbished by the same person not too long later. When John Cross of the Daily Mirror popped up and said “Man City is a bad move for Delph. Don’t think he’ll play enough. It’s not good for Aston Villa, but a lot better than losing him for free.”, many were nodding in agreement, or if they weren’t, they could at least respect that this was a personal opinion. Then a couple of days later he said this:

“Chelsea compete the £8m (plus Van Ginkel loan) deal for @asmir1. Good to see Begovic back himself to compete and improve at a top club #cfc”

Now, each comment in isolation is fine, but together? In one ‘player isn’t going to play enough so don’t do it’ and in the other, ‘player isn’t going to play enough but he’s competing’.

Now when Mr Arsenal wrote both of these comments, I doubt there was something in the back of his mind thinking ‘let’s have a dig at City’, but the problem is that fans remember and because things like this happen so often, they can be forgiven for getting a little tetchy. Perhaps John should have had a word with his co-worker, Dave Kidd – and I can’t believe I am about to praise Kidd here – when he wrote that Delph had bottled it, whereas Sterling was stepping up to the plate (Kidd did actually mention Richards, and that he was one of the voices warning Delph, which we know isn’t true because Richards said so – so not entire praise for the man from me, which makes me feel so much better).

Now it would perhaps be a tad harsh of me to single out John Cross, after all, when called out on those two comments, he did go on to say, “I don’t like the home grown rule. I’d rather see another Agüero than a Delph. Wouldn’t you?”, which I think even Delph would agree with. So we will move on to the La Gazzetta dello Sport when they recently claimed that City were holding players hostage.

A ridiculous thing to suggest, of course, and it is based on Roma wanting to get Dzeko done as cheaply as possible, whilst City refuse, rightfully so, on the issue – much like what Liverpool did with Sterling. Pay up or shut up.

But why are City targeted in this manner? There is a reason, and some of you won’t like it.

It’s because all football clubs that are in the spotlight are, but the trouble is, we, as City fans, notice it because we read so much about our club, just like Arsenal fans notice it when it happens to them, and Manchester United fans, too – many often went looking for these articles when they slumped into the 7th spot (I know I did), just so we could continue laughing. But they’d seen them already, and were being constantly wound up by professionals.

The one exception though is Liverpool, who were representing a Golden Age of days gone by, and much of the media were teenagers when the club last swept aside all before them, and it felt like they were clinging on to those childhood memories. Ergo they got a free ride in the press … in the main. But even fans of Liverpool will no doubt point at some articles and say “they were taking the piss; look!” This may be true, and it most certainly is today; one need only see the LMFAO line-up that was recently printed in a couple of newspapers.

So what can we do about this? Simple really – stop buying them, and clicking on them. That feeling of ‘looking to be offended’ from some fans needs to stop. If readerships go down and everyone is on the same page (no pun intended) as to why we’re all doing this, then attitudes will change; they’ll have to. We are as much a part of the problem as they are, so you can’t blame them if we keep soaking it up for whatever that reason may be. Sure, it might mean we can no longer seek out ‘fun’ articles to take the piss out of another club, but then neither can they with us.

What we will end up with will be concise reporting – y’know worthy of that 5 year journalism degree – and whilst we as fans of all clubs may still disagree, we will at least not have to deal with what amounts to the aforementioned unadulterated ‘bullshit’ emanating from so many corners.