Discontent swirls around the columns and arches of the old ramparts like a serpent intent on wreaking havoc upon all it surveys. A clock strikes the witching hour somewhere in the middle distance of a corridor lit badly by flickering torches. The sound of knives being sharpened on an industrial lathe can clearly be heard. Somebody might already be screaming.
The night talks to us in cold, discomforting epithets. Robert the Dread and shallow-water-City. Dead Men Walking and Motionless Shakeless Kolarov. Disaster is close at hand. Or, at least, something that smells very like disaster. It might, on the other hand, just be badly cooked brodino. Flee if you can, if you wish and, if you stay, avert your gaze, for terrible hobgoblins are about to enter the realms of humankind and blow out those torches of hope. All we will be left with will be the clothes we stand in, a clinging darkness and -possibly- the Europa League.
Then, without as much as the briefest of warnings, the glorious Manchester City of recent times reappears and smites four goals past the hapless men-children of Leeds. They tinker with them like a cat fiddles with a ball of wool. Then, when the plaything is bedraggled and out of shape, they bat it casually into the bushes. Are we to laugh again and straighten our backs, or to remain hunched in the corner, awaiting the next fearsome blow? Is this the way to salvation, an army of marching luminaries, bare-chested and brave, chanting about the best team in the and and all the world? Or are we to start daubing sheets with welcome phrases in Portuguese?
Modern football has taught us to treat victory and defeat in the same exaggerated manner. Second place in the table? Woe is me. Look at the millions of petrodollars fluttering in the Lancashire gale. A defeat at Southampton? God bring down a cloud of locusts on anybody, who does not equate such a thing to the very gates of doom rattling on their ill-gotten hinges, the very end of civilization as we know it. Horsemeat bound in sheets of cheap pasta awaits us all.
|Scott Sinclair, Champions League|
City's midfield, strident and well turned out, ran tiny intricate rings around its opponents, leaving Michael Brown with his shirt on back-to-front and his team-mates chasing what appeared to be the dust marks left by shadows. The goal tally could and maybe should have been seven or eight, but the happy crowd went home with four to slot into their memory banks...
|Missing Cavani's music|
Instead talk is cheap and our air is char-grilled. In place of lying in the sun awaiting another tidal wave of smiles and belly laughs, we find ourselves huddled in an uncomfortable ball, avoiding the stares and muttering about "wholesale clear-outs". Between the knee-jerk reactions to life's tiny ups and downs and the lack of any reaction at all to last summer's needs, it is charming to see that we are still capable of cutting a funny old figure sometimes.