Friday, November 8, 2019

TOP TENS: Stand-in Goalies

Kyle Walker's slow-motion heroics in the San Siro provoked the not unreasonable question, "how many times has this sort of nonsense happened before?" and the answer is - as you would expect with anything slightly daft at City - "plenty of times", although not so much in these days of well-packed substitute benches. Our Top Ten becomes a Top 11, if you include another unforgettable bit of City slapstick-goalkeeper action with David James playing upfront v Middlesbrough.

1. ALAN OAKES for BERT TRAUTMANN. Season 1962-63
As things get just a little hot under the collar during City's slightly out of control 6-1 defeat at Upton Park, 'keeper Trautmann, not known for his histrionics, becomes super peeved with referee Ken Stokes after he allows West Ham's 4th goal to stand. No VAR to muddy the waters further in those days, of course. Trautmann chucks his green jersey on the pitch after being sent off, leaving midfield stalwart Oakes to pick it up and carry on the good work. Two further goals are conceded in the mayhem.

2. MATT GRAY for HARRY DOWD. Season 1963-64.
A year later and another goalkeeping catastrophe against Bury at Maine Road. Dowd injures his finger in the 55th minute, but courageously decides he wants to play on. Matt Gray takes up the reigns in goal and Dowd cavorts around to such good effect up front, he ends up scoring the 87th minute equaliser, to bring the house down. Hero.   

3. MIKE DOYLE for RON HEALEY. Season 1970-71.
Nottingham Forest are at Maine Road for a run of the mill league fixture, but Healey's injury spices things up with first half goal-scorer Doyle summoned to the sticks. Forest surge back to win 3-1 with a hesitant Doyle powerless to stop any of the goals.

4. MIKE DOYLE for KEITH MacRAE. Season 1974-75.
City are at Filbert Street when early disaster strikes, with injury to Scottish keeper MacRae. In steps Doyle for the second time in two seasons, who proceeds to give a masterclass of brave goalkeeping right through to the 89th minute, when Bob Lee pops in the Leicester winner. Doyle had kept them out for 80 minutes.

5. TOMMY BOOTH for JOE CORRIGAN. Season 1980-81.
Joe Corrigan is hurt in a collision with Jeff Cook after just three minutes of a League Cup tie at Stoke, but soldiers on until half time, when a suspected cracked knee cap (ouch), makes it impossible to carry on. Stalwart defender Booth steps up to the plate and City rally to Stoke's third minute opener by producing a rousing second half, where Booth is well protected and mainly untroubled, while Tony Henry pops in a late equaliser.

6. BOBBY McDONALD for JOE CORRIGAN. Season 1982-83.
Corrigan dislocates his shoulder in the third minute of City's home game with Watford and is helped off the pitch by Roy Bailey. Up steps McDonald, looking like a munchkin in Corrigan's massive green shirt, to provide one of the most amazing spectacles ever seen at Maine Road. The Scot is quite magnificent keeping the visitors at bay for 87 minutes. Dennis Tueart nets to put City top of the table. Only City provide comfort of this kind.

7. STEVE REDMOND for ERIC NIXON. Season 1987-88.
Nixon is done up like a kipper by Mark Bright, who has had a running feud with the keeper since early in the game. Knowing Nixon is already on a yellow, Bright charges into Nixon when he is in possession of the ball and crumples to the floor to get the keeper red-carded. When tempers settle, Redmond takes the green shirt in time to watch Neil Redfearn's penalty slide past him. It provokes a Palace come-back and a 3-1 win.

8. NIGEL GLEGHORN for ANDY DIBBLE. Season 1988-89.
Dibble pulls a muscle taking a goal kick with City 2-down at Fellows Park and in the middle of a dire display. Up steps Gleghorn and that siege mentality is plugged in immediately, with a rousing City response putting them 3-2 up by the beginning of the second half. No City story is complete without more farce to top and tail the event, though, and in steps goal-scorer David Oldfield with the perfect back pass to set up Walsall's late equaliser.

9. NIGEL GLEGHORN for ANDY DIBBLE. Season 1988-89.
Just over a month later and City have learned their lesson, bringing in the experience of Paul Cooper from Ipswich for the vital promotion run-in. Inexplicably manager Mel Machin chooses the just about fit again Dibble to play in the vital home game with Palace. Naturally Dibble breaks down and in steps Gleghorn again to keep the marauding Palace strike force at bay in a 1-1 draw. 

10. NIALL QUINN for TONY COTON. Season 190-91.
More City slapstick as Coton is sent off for bringing Dean Saunders down. Coton leaves but not before handing his shirt over and throwing his gloves in the ref's face. Derby needing points to avoid relegation then see Saunders long run-up produce a good penalty, which Quinn stretches to and puts around the post. City win, Dean is sent down. 

Monday, October 7, 2019


No need for hyperbole
That Nuno Espirito Santo was a goalkeeper during a nomadic and relatively low-profile playing career might to some extent explain his success in setting up his Wolves side's solid defensive lines against City at the weekend. His team's energy, cohesion and robustness in escaping with a neat 2-0 victory from a ground where almost nobody prevails these days, speaks volumes for his players' belief in his organisational abilities. It also said something about the unusually deep collective malfunction that City managed to manufacture.

Wolves - with five set up across midfield - first thwarted a hesitant-looking City, then took advantage of continuing droopiness after the break - when they might reasonably have expected the charge of the Light Blue Brigade to begin - to score twice on the counter, the hitherto directionless Adama Traore suddenly finding laser guidance for both his runs and his shots. In the forward's case it had been a biblical transformation from the corner flag-bothering whippet of former times.

For their part, City started poorly and got gradually worse. A collective off day, perhaps, compounded by a number of perceived blind-spots from Pep Guardiola (the Catalan has blind spots? Whoa!!!) regarding team selection and positioning. The team's history of success with Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva together in midfield is sparse. With Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling ineffectual, Silva marooned and Aguero cast adrift alone up front, it was left to the makeshift back four to perform their Charlie Farley routine as Jimenez bore down through the middle. Enter the threshing right leg of Nicolas Otamendi, a thing of beauty that should surely find itself a place in any national walking stick museum they intend to open up in Buenos Aires in the not too distant future. For a man from the land of tango to be in charge of such stiff and unresponsive limbs must be close to a crime punishable with a long prison sentence in Argentina.

And yet Otamendi still walks the streets a free man. Possibly for not much longer.

Guardiola too, it must be said, was also busy having an off-day. If he thought swapping Walker for Oleksandr Zinchenko and trotting the amiable but spasmodically terrifying João Cancelo to the right was all that was needed, then the last two weeks' worth of press speculation about Bernardo Silva's mental state must have finally got to him too. The onslaught in the press has thankfully, now that
Otamendi moves in for the kill on Jimenez
Liverpool are eight points clear and beginning to breathe more rhythmically, come to an end. Their job done, they can move onto Mauricio Pochettino, while carefully giving Olé Summer Solstice - still at the wheel but looking more and more like the man in the silent movies holding a steering wheel that has long since been separated from its car, which is quietly driving itself down a nearby side street, a polite wide berth.

On this showing, City need no breathless work from the 5th Column to break up their confident stride. They have already fallen over their own feet without the need for a casually outstretched leg from the press box.

And yet. Eight points is neither here nor there to a team that has famously come back time and again in the past, has made it their prerogative to score late winners à la Ferguson and whose spirit has been nigh-on unquenchable as trophy after trophy has landed on the Etihad mantlepiece. Well, with that sort of entitlement comes a need to stay focussed, stay hungry and stay alert. Tricky when said mantlepiece holds all the pots it is possible to win in England, when every conceivable unlikely finish has been conjured, every impossible comeback been rubber-stamped.

One bauble remains untouched by grubby Mancunian hands, however.

Since Malcolm Allison's rampant rallying cry to "scare the cowards of Europe" fell on multiple deaf ears in 1968, City have been bashing occasionally against a big white wall. In recent times their presence has become more frequent, to the point that they have long since passed Arsenal as the Premier league's most consistent Champions League participant. Who'd have thought it, when City flopped out to Groclin Dyskobolia or when Total Network Solutions produced doughty opposition back in the day?

Santander, Widzew Lodz and Bologna may be distant memories, hazy times of slash and wriggle, but they still represent hanging ghosts needing to be exorcised.

Clearly though circumstances are already beginning to force Guardiola's hand. An early deficit in the league will mean experimentation with the likes of Phil Foden, Eric Garcia and Angelino on a more regular basis, while waiting and hoping that nothing treacherous happens in Europe until the likes of Stones, Laporte, Sané and De Bruyne return. Survive an easy-looking group C and fire up the engines for a new year surge appears to be the name of the game already. It is high time Europe did look at City as more than just a dangerous draw to avoid, but a real and potential name on the trophy. That would crown everything that has been worked for over the last 11 years, would put a feather in what is already a very luxurious cap and carry the extra spice of putting the noses of some of the UEFA bigwigs out of joint at the same time.

Guardiola and his band of merry men will tell you we fight on on all fronts, but some fronts are more tempting than others and there is one that now beckons more strongly then ever before.

Sunday, September 29, 2019


Just how the sight of Kevin de Bruyne's strutting one touch pass routine can make one think of Gerry Gow might be a mystery to those, who remember the craggy, knock-kneed City threshing machine of the 1981 FA Cup run. Gow, with his shirt hanging limply over his unremarkable hips and a bubble perm as ragged as his thigh-high tackling, was a master of the mean midfield swamps of the 70s and early 80s. Those slender hips supported a pair of spindly-looking legs that you felt might not resist a collision with a pensioners shopping trolley down at Tescos on a busy Sunday. How wrong appearances can be. Gow was a one man wrecking machine, whose legs were quite tough enough to carve coloured patches all over the likes of Osvaldo Ardiles, Mick Mills, Kevin Bond and anyone else who came into reach during that 81 Cup run. And that included Trevor Ross and a clutch of white legged chuffers wearing the royal blue of Everton too.

With pre-match thoughts flickering back to those epic days of noise and danger, a little-changed Goodison Park provided arriving supporters with plenty of nostalgia for a past, which in City's case, seems more distant with every gold-leaf pass off the boot of today's swaggering stars.

City's midfield on that January afternoon had featured the willing running of Paul Power, destined for better times with Everton later in his career, the honest running of Steve Mackenzie and Gow's Jurassic Park tackling.

In their unimaginably sleek peach and yellow outfits, today's City looked like a set of well licked lollypops at certain points of an uncomfortable day out at Goodison Park. With the home side unexpectedly finding some claws after a dismal, soft-touch run of defeats in the Premier League, we were made to revisit the old untidy days of maulings from David Moyes' well-psyched shock troops, a regular embarrassment in these parts not so long ago.

Gerry Gow's rickety legs make it to Wembley

But, the Norwich defeat has taught City a lesson or two. Despite forced defensive reorganisation, there is a new purpose to City's performances, as seen in precision-fed defeats of Watford (8-0), Shakhtar Donetsk (3-0) and Preston North End (3-0) in the space of less than two weeks. The way City started, controlled and purposeful, another simple win rapidly seemed tangible.

The opening goal, yet another thing of beauty in a succession of weekly treats, saw Riyad Mahrez skip down the right flank untroubled by the flailing attentions of Lucas Digne. As the Algerian flier checked back inside, he laid off a simple short pass to the supporting Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian's response to this gently rolled pass was as predictable as a dog barking at a cat. The Belgian hit one of his uniquely swirling outswingers, which are near-on impossible to defend. The ball duly arced in front of the flapping dinosaur arms of Jason Pickford and his wrong-footed defensive line, allowing Gabriel Jesus to throw himself into the inviting space. The Brazilian was horizontal by the time his head met the ball, providing a pleasantly aesthetic finish to a lightning move.

Geometry and geology entwined. Precision holes sliced into the heart of Everton's defence. All seemed set fair, but City again failed to take chances, gradually backed off and Everton accepted the invitation to be part of the contest. Gundogan had already managed to find the bar from Mahrez's outrageous cross when standing practically underneath it and more chances came and went before the home side were level.

Many will blame City's makeshift defence and it never really looked completely settled once Everton had rallied, but in truth Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho has so far not been the nail-chewing affair it might have been. The Brazilian has slotted seamlessly into the hole left by Aymeric Laporte and, despite brickbats and guffaws at his wayward style, his South American colleague has performed admirably enough too.

Fernandinho's block tackle may have squirmed to Seamus Coleman to offer the Irishman a chance to chip delicately over Ederson, but he had been coping comfortably enough with the in-form Dominic Calvert Lewin up to that point.

If Gundogan's hitting of the bar had raised eyebrows, heads were being scratched again when Raheem Sterling, enduring one of those days at the office where you begin the day by splashing coffee over yourself, break the printer mid-morning and make a joke about your manager's creeping body odour when he's standing just behind you in the canteen, managed to tap wide when put clean through on Pickford.

Everton had not bargained for Mahrez, however. None of us had until quite recently. Brought in from Leicester to make a difference to a squad that did not obviously require a difference being made, his task has been especially difficult over the last twelve months. Perhaps the pressure finally lifted with that glorious shimmy and strike at Brighton on the day that the title was confirmed last May; perhaps it came in captaining his country to AFCON success in the summer, but - whatever and whenever - Mahrez has transformed himself into a big player at City, one that makes a difference in games like this. Up he stepped to slot an immaculate left foot freekick past Delph's lunging foot and Pickford's outstretched finger tips.

City were back on top. How many times have opponents cast a glance at the subs' bench and shaken their heads? On this occasion, Guardiola summoned Sergio Aguero, then David Silva, then Bernardo Silva, looking relieved to be out on a football pitch, rather than enduring yet more days in the
Sterling's volley makes it over the line
limelight of Britain's hair-trigger PC culture (Sky's "match analysis" would quickly force back into the zone). As Everton withered, City stood up once more, with Sterling finally finding reward for sticking at it when every touch in his second half had seemed doomed.

Outstanding contributions along the way had been posted by Ederson, proving to all watching that there is an elastic shot stopper and brilliant reaction keeper if you look beyond those delicate foot skills, by Rodrigo, once again dominating the tight spaces in the hectic area of the pitch where friend meets foe and by the fleet-footed flier Mahrez.

Once again, City had been tested and had found the answers. Goals of beautiful precision had once more decorated the performance. Modern day City can do this. The mind floated back once more to that Cup un of 1981, when Power's dinked equaliser had prevented an exit at Goodison and the same player had floated a fantastic freekick at Villa Park in the semi final to dispose of favourites Ipswich Town. The replay of the final had also seen Mackenzie crash in a volley so straight and so sweetly hit that, had the net behind Milija Aleksik not stopped its progress, it would almost certainly have embedded itself in one of the old ground's roof supports. Reminders if they were needed that this endearing old club was producing things of beauty long before the Guardiola production line opened up, just not with such unerring regularity.

Friday, August 9, 2019


Asa Hartford is one of the very best midfielders to have worn the sky blue shirt of Manchester City. 

A terrier in the tackle with indefatigable spirit and a great eye for a pass, he represented the all-round midfield package in an era when every club had its geniuses and lynchpins in that section of the pitch. None of those built for skill in the 70s and 80s will have come off the pitch having faced the Scotsman in City's midfield without checking their legs and other body parts for bruises. Hartford was stocky and tough, solid on his feet and swift in his cutting runs forward. Built from solid Clydebank stock, he would go on to represent Scotland 36 times whilst on the books at Maine Road out of a half century of caps in total.

Hartford weighed in with goals too, often crisply struck efforts from outside the area, and was the pivot around which two separate eras of very different City sides were built.

His debut came in the opening fixture of the 1974-75 season.

Having represented West Brom against City in the 1970 League Cup final (he would play for City in the successful 76 final against Newcastle), Hartford arrived at Maine Road after a transfer to champions Leeds United fell through on health grounds. His medical had revealed a slight heart defect and Leeds decided to call the signing off at the eleventh hour. 

The Yorkshire club's loss was to be City's huge gain.

Asa Hartford takes a shot during his debut, the opening fixture of 1974-5 v. West Ham United

Hartford's midfield partner Colin Bell strides away from Frank Lampard
Scorer Rodney Marsh is congratulated by Colin Barrett, as bell walks in to add a hand shake

The opening fixture was against West Ham United, in those mid-70s days often considered a soft touch away from the tight confines of their own Upton Park, where the majority of their typically neat and tidy victories tended to come. The Hammers travelled north with a squad well packed with talent, however, including Frank Lampard, Trevor Brooking Billy Bonds and Clyde Best and on a sunny August day were expected to be part of a well-balanced and challenging opening fixture for Tony Book's City.

Book's men had other ideas, however.

Driven by the energetic probing of Hartford and Colin Bell in midfield and Rodney Marsh's enigmatic front running, City would run out 4-0 winners, dispatching the Londoners towards London with their tales firmly between their legs. Although he did not manage to score against John Lyall's side, Hartford would collect his first City goal in the next fixture, a 1-0 win v Spurs that saw City head the early season league table. Gelling immediately with the Rolls Royce Bell, Hartford produced a majestic debut performance. It would be the first of many that endeared him to the Kippax faithful during a period of growing influence for Book's side.   

By the time Hartford donned the white City away shirt for the fixture at Upton Park at the beginning of the 1982-83 season, he had been back at the club almost a year. Having been shipped out in 1979 during Malcolm Allison's ill-fated clear-out of talent, the Scot had endured a brief but painful stint under Brian Clough's tutelage at Nottingham Forest and a longer and more pleasurable stay at Everton. Returning to Maine Road, he found a new regime under John Bond and a new side, fresh from Cup Final disappointment against Tottenham in the Centenary final. 

The 1982-83 season would be his penultimate in a City shirt, as City flirted with the upper echelons of the division (2nd after beating Southampton in November), before falling into the bottom three for the very first time on the last day, after succumbing to pressure and to stand-in manager John Benson's play-for-a-draw tactics against Luton Town on the final day. City were relegated and Hartford's slump-shouldered retreat from the Maine Road pitch as supporters flooded the playing surface would be the last time he was seen in the top flight in the sky blue shirt. 

The match at Upton Park had taken place in September, however, during a period of the season that City's buoyant form had given few clues as to the disastrous finale in store for us all. In a rumbustious match, City leaked four goals of their own on this occasion and Hartford was sent off along with team mate and manager's son, Kevin Bond. "Getting yourself sent off when your side is already trailing by three goals is not a lot different from deserting a beaten army", suggested Steve Curry helpfully in the Daily Express the following Monday. 

In truth Hartford's combative style often lead him into trouble with officials (he had been sent off that pre-season in a summer tournament in Barcelona, characteristically "catching Porto Alegre midfielder Silvio across the forehead with a backhander" after having his shirt pulled. On this occasion it was not so much Hartford's flailing limbs that got the better of him, but his sharp Glaswegian temper, as his fiery reaction to referee David Letts - a police sergeant in real life who brooked no dissent - brought him an immediate dismissal, as City's sudden collapse got the better of him. 

The two matches with West Ham represent the full spectrum of what Asa Hartford brought to Manchester City: fire and brimstone, which, when controlled, could move mountains, but when let loose in more volatile circumstances, could have differing results. He finished his time at City in the second tier, hardly fitting for a player, who had worn the sky blue with such ferocious effectiveness throughout 317 highly watchable, fully committed appearances.   

City 4-0 West Ham (Marsh 2, Tueart, Doyle)
Saturday 17th August 1974
Attendance: 30,240

West Ham 4-1 City (Boyer)
Saturday 25th September, 1982
Attendance: 23,883

Monday, August 5, 2019


Match report from Wembley, by Generic Iconic

(Abu Dhabi launder it up 5-4 on penalties)
Attendance: Mainly from Liverpool


So, Liverpool will be competing for six trophies not seven in this already iconic 2019-20 campaign. 

The Community Shield (what even is this, a cup final, a super cup, a supercharged friendly, a noisy nose blow in a damp tunnel?) came and went in its own special way at a Wembley Stadium, filled with the lethargic City support of the summer holidays and a boisterous contingent from The Independent Republic of Scouse.

As a litmus test for the new season, these occasions can tell us relatively little. And yet. Two sides, still lumbering and bumbling along with their collection of tired legs, frothing bank balances and not-yet-ready muscles. City, fresh from a summer of preening themselves after the Abu Dhabi-inspired cup final whitewash against poor dishevelled Watford had delivered an unprecedented domestic treble thanks to unprecedented levels of obscene spending, finally prevailed after Georgino Wijnaldum’s penalty unluckily found the gloved fists of Claudio Bravo in its way.

Liverpool, pert and impressive in the second half, will have taken more from this than City, the eventual winners of the shield. But that means very little, if not nothing at all. As Jurgen Klopp had told us all beforehand in his inimitable way, "this match means very little, perhaps nothing at all.". It had come a week or so too soon for his mighty fine side.
With Mo Salah sprightly and alert, chances to win came and went in normal time. City’s expensive new recruit, Rodrigo, playing in shorts so baggy they looked to be full of desert sand, if not freshly laundered dirhams, stood mostly firm as the red tide washed his way, but it was to another extortionately expensive bauble of the sovereign spending that Pep Guardiola had to sprint at the end to offer heartfelt thanks for this hollowest of victories. Balding £56m Kyle Walker had performed the most acrobatic goal line clearance, charging back towards his own goal with the speed of a Yemeni gunship to hook Salah’s goal-bound header from right under the bar. He may have been the most outrageously overpriced full back in history when plucked forcibly from poor Tottenham Hotspurs, but here he paid a fraction of that despicable sum back.
It was to be City’s day. Playing in an unadorned commemorative kit (harkening back to the pre-oil wealth days when simplicity was the key and City’s squads had a rather more prosaic look about them as Eddie McGoldrick and co clattered around the football league), Guardiola’s sumptuous team, constructed at fabulous cost as part of the sportswashing project in the Gulf, cantered easily into early control of this game.

The Catalan chief, looking sullen and sure of himself, cajoled from the sidelines as his expensive stars showed scant respect for the momentous and traditional season opener. 

With Ederson fresh back from extended leave, Bravo was entrusted with the goalkeeping gloves and used them well when called upon. In front of him, the glittering array of admittedly pricy defenders were doing their jobs too. £47m (wth add-ons) Kevin de Bruyne strutted in midfield but Leroy Sane, the subject of a daring transfer raid by plucky Bayern Munich, fell awkwardly early on and had to be replaced. A worried hush fell over the City crowd, already being heartily out-sung by the bouncy Liverpool end, fresh from a lusty rendition of God Save The Queen and For She’s  A Jolly Good Fellow. Whether Bayern think City’s ridiculously high asking price for their left winger is worth continuing to press for is a moot point, when a club backed by such never-ending riches decides to try to milk the market this way too. It is a distortion of the market, plain and simple. City cannot have it both ways. 
If the horrific possibility of a big City win had briefly been a thought in everyone’s minds in the packed press box after the scruffy opening goal, Liverpool’s second half comeback allayed those fears at least. We had a contest after all! City were not going to canter to more silverware, despite everything! And how they were made to fight and sweat over each millimetre, each blade of well watered British grass.
It is to everyone's relief that we can say, at the end of a game which it would have been fairer to call a draw, that City will once again not have it all their own way this season. It must be heartening for millions of fans from the Tottenham High Road to the precincts of Old Trafford to know that, by the looks of this admittedly early evidence, those mere mortals who have built their squads along regular organic principles may yet have a say in where the trophies go this season. The netspend advocates will have their day in the sunshine. Sportswashing may be the dominant factor right now (and how we have had the term pushed down our throats), but there remains a healthy entourage of worthy contestants to wear City's tainted crown next May. We will all drink to that.    

You can also read Generic Iconic's work in the Qatari Morning Bugle.  

Thursday, June 20, 2019


POSTFAC50 -2019

"Nearly Home" by Mark Nuttall ( )
The mood felt pinched and tired. People walked away slowly, all hunched shoulders and slack limbs. There were murmurs of discontent amongst knots of ragged-trousered youths and a robust woman with bleached hair was haranguing the crowd about unidentifiable this and that, her face reddening as her dress rode up on her ardent hips. It hadn’t meant to feel like this. Not at all like this. With the sun out and summer approaching, City had just won the treble, the unprecedented treble (quadruple if anyone could stretch themselves to actually consider the God-forsaken Community Shield as a bona fide trophy) and all anyone could think about was how the man from the New York Times was going to portray the scene. I turned in early, worried sick that the morning’s headlines would be about Sportswashing, Financial Doping and Abu Dhabi child camel racers and not a historic, sun-dappled 6-0 F.A. Cup Final victory over Watford. 

The next morning dawned damp and reassuringly grey. Gray, as the New York Times would probably call it. It felt better, more solid, less frivolous. The previous day’s achievements had happened after all and we had made it through the night with only the slightest pause to remember those that laid the great trans-Siberian oil pipelines across the Russian steppes (pray for Skovorodino). Kevin de Bruyne had stepped up and helped soothe any lingering thoughts of Financial Fair Play and what a proper response to the growing Yemeni civil war might be. Carol (name changed to avoid trolling) was waiting for me in the kitchen with a fragrant pot of coffee and some hastily scrambled eggs. “Have you seen the papers,” she asked, looking as sheepish as an intern at Michel Platini's offices on the third floor in Nyon. “You’re going to need to sit down…


Reel around the fountain. Cruise about the canalside. Fling your chips in the Rhodadendrons. Swear at the moon. Watch Eden Hazard do keepy-uppy before a crowd of 55,000 hanky-carrying Madridistas 
His hair is Harlow gold. His lips a sweet surprise. He's pure as Chadderton snow. And he's in the know. He'll expose you. He's ferocious. He's got Philip Green's hair. I could still hear the music now. Images of Monsieur Platini, a football man in a football job,  ricocheted around my mind, the man whose belief had brought us super-elastic Euros, Qatar World Cups and FFP, quite a night's work for a simple ex-midfield prompter from Nancy. 
Where to start?

I was nervous and, after pushing them to and fro a little, couldn’t eat much of the eggs. Their electric yellow hue reminded me of City's kit at Highbury that time, before the clouds drew over the sun and the temperatures dropped, when we could turn up in London and quietly watch a 4-0 thrashing in an embarrassing shirt and leave without anyone making the slightest point of it all, before everyone started reading up about net spends and other uninteresting football gimmickry, when standing up inside a football ground didn't get you shunted out by an over-zealous fat guy with bad breath in a florescent bib. It made me wonder what kind of teenager, in love with the sport, watching with awe how his heroes move and glide, collecting his stickers and plastic coins, avidly reading his magazines and gazing at his array of hastily hung bedroom posters, can end up feeling propulsion towards murky accountancy practices, profit and loss columns, transfer percentages and amortization issues. The coffee tasted bitter, just like last gasp victory always did to the vast rump of City’s bedraggled, argumentative support. Fanbase, as the people in the know like to call it in these enlightened times. Where to start on a morning like this? Samuel? Taylor? An easy introduction to the day. Or do you wade straight in up to your thighs and see if there is any forward momentum to be found? Herbert. Ladyman. McDonnell. one of the unhinged chaps in Brazil. Ogden even. Dominic King, that man with the side parting from Kicker Sportmagazin, Jamie Paradise and his ratings from Gomorra were all waiting for me. A phalanx of Mirror columnists were there too, breathing heavily through their open mouths. I could almost imagine their tiny lungs rasping in the cold morning air. Even Duncan Castles was a possibility if only you could locate his platform. Just where was the Highland Enigma transmitting from these days?
Well I wasn’t going to, but I made myself start with the coffee, bitter as it was, then the cold sad eggs, then a quick glance at Twitter. A thing called “Rob Pollard’s Beswick Troll Farm” was the talk of the town, an item sounding so glorious, so unfathomably beautiful, I dropped everything and glazed over, imagining how such an organisation might work, with its army of slightly scruffy-looking lank-haired interns pressing buttons and pulling levers, running around in circles and starting right back again, pointing and thumbing through dusty ledgers, answering bleeping handheld devices and looking pensive for hours on end; scouring Marca's web pages, getting into arguments with bright young men on Twitter called @MoSalahPickles and @JesseMoves, squinting at Google Translate's version of Der Spiegel's latest grande exposé. It would be something akin to the inner workings at Charlie’s well-known Chocolate Factory, but instead set by the Bridgewater Canal in a dark recess at Potato Wharf that smelt of spilt Boddingtons and hastily prepared gravy. A rabbit warren of profligate souls, who were hell bent on living forever. Truth on steroids. Storytelling through a kaleidoscope. Manchester City's very own hastily assembled Veritas Pipeline, held together with Prestwich rivets and little adhesive patches from the Wienerbergers in Denton.     

Political jingoism, tawdry pornography, paltry pop tunes, Talksportisms and BetFredery was all I had to look forward to as "Carol" tugged at my pyjamas and tutted, "They're on back to front again"
Knee jerks. Premature ejaculation. Evangelical story tellers. Bullshittery, badinage and bravado. Our team’s bigger than yours. The Comprehension Gulf, the banter valley, the memory holes and the truth dams. And now - with the occurrences in Madrid - we were preparing for a bewitching new front: the Parade Accountants, operating in their very own netherworld of whispered innuendo, wrapped in whisps of blood red pyro smoke.       

In our threadbare state, we unfasten our belts, breathe a little, bloated as we are on our everyday diet of plums and prunes. We stand on the brink of a dystopian future liberally bedecked with squadrons of fairy-tale weavers. An apocalyptical codex of half truths, massaged facts and a hundred and three shades of the very same colour. A whole country waiting to be led by Boris Johnson, sullying the earth with his cloven hooves and his white socks.  

How does one count the heads at a parade anyway? Do they count double if they are carrying lit pyro? As a half drunk superstar player, is it acceptable behaviour to carry on waving your medals when the bus has veered unexpectedly into one of those empty side streets that Sky News cannot film successfully? And where the hell’s that big bruiser of a press officer when you need her to get rid of all these cloying members of the public?
For those still harbouring enough energy to be involved in professional football, either employed in its vast, sprawling, burping and belching industry or following it semi-avidly through the prism of your ever-shrinking bank funds, a labyrinthine maze of moral questions and artfully flavoured junk food awaits you. Your social conscience travels with you, as does a vague smell of yesterday’s man. Can you reliably and immediately quote your club’s most recent financial results, net spillage of bodily fluids at the camel racing at the Al-Wathba weekend meet and how many entirely organic but ultimately futile crosses Arsenal put into the box against Burnley on Matchday Sixteen? Do you wisely and sensibly possess words to express Benjamin Mendy's transfer fee in real terms? Do you know how to assess John Stones' image rights and what kind of counterbalance in South Korean battery sales Ed Woodward needs to construct to pay Jesse Lingard's weekly purse? Can you extrapolate the likely number of Wan-Bissakas Manchester United would have to buy before someone hinted at market inflation or how many trillions Real Madrid would have to leak before it goes beyond the realms of "explosive buying power"? 

If your moral compass is spinning, it’s because there are no Stanley Bowles, no Robin Fridays to hang your thoughts on these days. No Bank of England Clubs in Islington, on Wearside and by the Mersey anymore, no Rio Ferdinand transfers to ogle at. Phil Thompson’s nose still protrudes into a number of avenues it hardly recognises the scent of and we have the crapulous remains of modern day savants like Dean Saunders to wonder at, but all in all, that day is done, that mule has bolted, those avenues closed, that little road barracaded off with a hand-written sign and a line of plastic tape. Frank Worthington’s lascivious half-grin down a young reporter’s cleavage is no longer. Frizzy-permed superstars kissing concrete-smile politicians no longer cut the mustard.
Stan Bowles wears Umbro.
The mere mention of Top of the Pops will have social services around to your flat with an Early Response Unit bearing tasers set to medium tan. Can we even utter the words Dave Lee Travis anymore without some sort of comeback? It might be wise to check. 

When Sammy Nelson pulled his shorts down and showed his bottom to the North Bank faithful in 1979, there was a giant burp of indifference in response. No Twitter witch-hunt took place and nobody combusted on the spot with righteous indignation. A photograph eventually surfaced of him arching his back for effect, a woman and a small child caught at the front of the terracing pointing at him while wide-mouthed and absolute glee playing across their faces. The contrite Irishman was banned for two games for bringing the game into disrepute. Today we are left with the dilemma of a man the Internet christened the Wank Buddha. 
I digress. There are more pressing matters to delve into than Sammy Nelson’s buttocks.

We are in the middle of a process to kill the game of football once and forever, reduce it to its lowest common denominator, rid it of upstarts and dreamers and repopulate it with comfortable certainties like Manchester United and AC Milan, Juventus and Bayern, institutions that don’t make you sit up in bed in the middle of the night wondering whether you closed all the windows downstairs. Permament reminders of how our grand game used to be, with its Van Bastens and Charltons and its throaty Kop roar of “Dugleesh!”. This is what poor beleagured Monsieur Platini was trying to save for posterity, for prosperity, a football man with a football plan. 

I mean where do Manchester City fit into all of this, with their paltry Cup Winners Cup from the back of beyond? The Cup Winners’ Cup, literally a cup for cup winners. Imagine that! You could draw Famagusta or Stromgodset or Valetta or Linfield, but just what was the point? It made for absolutely execrable tv (unless the good folk of Windsor Park rioted) and Heineken were not in the tiniest bit interested in forking out on a drink sensible message to wrap around dilapidated grounds populated by a few men and children from the banks of some detached village halfway up a storm-lashed fjord. Even worse, what if you drew Barcelona or Benfica in the first round? You were gone before the sponsor money kicked in and with no UEFA Cup or Europa League to “drop down into” once you’d failed your first examination. Those income streams just dried up there and then. An impetuous slight to all those big clubs who deserve to be at the top and to stay at the top because of their inherent bigness. Real Madrid at Cardiff. The indignity of losing in a place like that. It should never happen again. And if you did happen to win the Welsh Cup, then the twelfth qualifying round of the Intertoto should realistically have awaited you, not a crack at one of The Untouchables. Never again must we go back to those tawdry sights and sounds. Real, the upright Javier Tebas’s favourite team, attracting white hankies by the thousands if they lose two games on the trot, must be protected. Their explosive spending this summer already stands as grand testimony to all that is good and proper in this world. 

Franco's little gems still get bigger crowds to watch Eden Hazard sign a pretend contract than for Getafe in the Cup and that is exactly how it should be.
And then our beloved Independent press has been rubbing shoulders with the Saudis.

Will this have an effect on FFP and sportswashing? Will Arsene Wenger still be able to talk about Financial Doping © without the risk of legal action? Can the Greed is Good creed be maintained when City pay Bolton Wanderers for a teenage starlet who they could have swiped for free? And all this without sparing a thought for Venezuelans, for the confused folk in the Crimea and indeed the poor people of our own bejewelled islands, preparing for Boris to usher in the era of speaking tongues, where you can happily say nothing three times over by way of explaining yourself.  
Who would have guessed that the road to Barnhill, a soggy, peat-infused bog by all accounts, would lead through Fleet Street, Salford Quays, Plaza Maior and a number of other football industry outposts? Writers with putty pens, squadrons of soothsayers and naysayers, believers of the alternative fact and the unquestionable truth, the inalienable clarity of what we see to be true, are lining up to fill any gaps in our understanding with material neatly sourced, cleansed, buffed, rejigged, reassembled, rethought and counter-thought, polished, rinsed, shredded and reconstituted for maximum effect.

As Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s plasticine-faced counsellor, might have told us, you believe what you want, but here’s what we’re putting out today and if enough people swallow it, it’s true. 

Oafish populism is all the rage and in the weird world of the web, a number of truths can come together in the battle for legitimacy. The football press is but a tiny, insignificant shard of the main story, a burgeoning market perhaps, but still just a machine for taking our dulled minds off the main course of how our lives are run and manipulated from above. Football is an entertainment industry now, as the affable Señor Tebas’s cheap peddling of his protectorate to the highest bidder capably illustrates.
It is an entertainment, our entertainment, built up into something that it isn’t: a megalith of power and lust, a world that matters so much people fight and lie and start wars; an arena that attracts oil barons, petro states, super- and supra-accountants and petty pilferers, liars and dreamers, dubiously dressed American hedgefunders, talk show hosts and royal princes, who support Aston Villa, We have been alive to witness a journey from Eddie Large to Usain Bolt.  

In between we have witnessed the gradual takeover of pseudo-football men like that shower at Newcastle, the
inert Derek Llambias (** "whose experience of the entertainment and bread industries – it says here - dates back literally decades") and his oily sidekick Dennis Wise, men who invariably know what's what.

To challenge this new status quo of sporting intelligentsia, who tackle the complex mental pipelines of the modern game so that we can avoid migraine, is to risk ridicule, be cast out, have spotlights shone in your eyes and water dripped up your nose. You are asked out to explain yourself, the literary version of an imbiber’s fist fight outside the Dog and Duck, to reveal your sources, to produce proper proof that your own doublespeak trumps theirs. It is only football, but you need linkage to doctorate levels of knowledge in race relations, Middle East history, the great human migrations of our times, the Portuguese slave trade, financial service regulatory measures, Russian militias, Lebanese civil wars, global warming, Humpback Whale breeding patterns and an intimate history of the influence of Beatrix Potter on Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth spending policies and how Michel's FFP is just here to help.
Mind-blowing the tools you need to survive on the internet these days. But we are in luck. For all that we need is thus proffered. From whence we glean, more bursts forth. The very internet that trips and tugs and ensnares us also provides us with the answers, all the answers, seventeen answers to the same question and all are correct.

If the Man From the Independent is telling us that Manchester City Sportswashing is the major story on the day that the club completes an unprecedented treble, then so be it. Until the Man From The Guardian tells us it is not. And the Man From The Daily Record tells us that it is. And the man From The Mail on Sunday tells us it isn’t. And so on up the hellish hill of nettles and brambles, fog and mist, smoke and mirrors until we get to the top which is the bottom which is the middle. It is down to us simple folk to work it out for ourselves. We are the last and the least of men. As we rub elbows with the world, ashamed at our inability to express ourselves better, understand these niceties more clearly, argue our points more lucidly, we must realise our simple prosaic words often fall short, the workings of our troubled minds leave us with a less than complete picture, our idea of balance departs as soon as the first shout of Cheats! goes up. Our simple grasp of facts may serve, our fragile attempts to accept others' criticism may hold a while, but in the end, well, the flesh is weak and the facts are there for all to see and interpret. Our response, shallow and one-eyed, brings down the wrath of Hades, the judgement of the Gods, a swift editorial from the desks of the New York Times. Bias carries us away to the netherworld of internet trolls and the dank corner now knowingly labelled Man City Twitter.    
Trump’s assertion that “what you are seeing and what you are reading isn’t happening” fits the bill nicely. It could have been John Aldridge or Stan Collymore or The Honourable Member of Parliament for Tatton or Almost Anyone Else. It could even have been Me. Or You. Woe betide you say anything, however, from a dainty platform of 43 followers on Twitter. Or 445. Or 5466. Or from some obscure underdeveloped platform deep inside Facebook or Instagram. You need weight to have gravity and you need gravy, tons of it, to have weight. You need numbers to export your version of the truth. You cannot just Rusholme-waltz your way into the big boys’ cocktail party and simply spout off. You are weightless and almost soundless, the shrill yell of your issues making a vague hissing sound in people’s ears. Reject the evidence of your eyes and your ears and listen to this from our award-winning podcast instead. Close down your paltry speech bubble and lock into this, the widest-spreading banter broadcaster in the western hemisphere. It will make you feel both good and bad, both clean and dirty, but it will not leave you a disbeliever.

And maybe we are sponsored by a betting company, but be responsible like us and you won’t want for attention and nor will your views lack likes.
I could tell you at this point that Kenny Clements was my uncle or that I was brought up with Yaya Toure in the sun-cracked fields around Bondoukou or that Steve Daley is living in Minnesota as a six foot call girl named Rachel McMinn or that pep Guardiola is definitely still signing for Juventus even though some outlets are saying Sarri, some photos are saying Sarri and some people at Juventus are saying Sarri. Perhaps we should all say Sarri once in a while. I could expand quite happily on any of these threads until you go away from here thinking to yourself, “I learned something new and important today”. Or I could just be wasting your time, as I have been for the last ten minutes or so. Just words, stacked one after the other in an untidy order just coherent enough to follow, carrying just enough hope of logical conclusion and release at the end to persevere with. Phil Foden to Juventus, you heard it here first. Sarri is the hardest word. 

You still here? Incredible.

George Orwell’s demise, in the darkened living room of Robin and Margaret’s farmhouse on the northernmost tip of the Isle of Jura (at Barnhill), surrounded by a fug of cigarette smoke and paraffin fumes was not in vain. Out of that crunchy typewriter came words and thoughts that still resonate today, perhaps more than ever today, thanks to the Mountain of Disinformation that our institutions have now constructed. “In Versionland we can measure our power by the number of people who subscribe to our version of the truth”.
John Aldridge and Stan Collymore tweet irregularly and sometimes incoherently to a cumulative total of over one million people on Twitter. Likewise large chunks of Nick Copack’s amazing BBC Sports Website goes out to 8 million people. Trump himself, the real king of DoubleSpeak, is followed by 61 million. Even Orwell’s O’Brien would have had difficulty disguising his astonishment at what we have achieved. 

Has our mistrust of establishment sources reached levels that go beyond simply Orwellian? Should we all just listen to Quack News Broadcasts and be done with it? Saturation point is, like everything else in here, where you personally feel it. When those accused of peddling fake news then use the term against purveyors of actual news, who is there left to trust, where is there left to hide? Do we stick resolutely to the words of Edward Waxley-Arnold (even his name is fake for God’s sake) or of Khaldoon Al Mubarak or of Michael Gove or Martin Samuel? What of that podcast that inspired tears and recriminations? The book review full of recycled banalities? The 6 o’clock news happily juxta-positioning experts' straight talk about what the European Election results mean (good for us, bad for you, bad for them and good for them) with the death of the last known Orangutan in Madgeburg Zoo? Should a news programme be called the Kay Burley Show?

Maybe the Daily Star had it about right when it ignored the plight of the Yemeni homeless and instead posted a full page story on how much Caitlyn Jenner spent on sexbots last year. Only the Daily Star never mentioned that. I made it up. We are Nearly Home.  

BBC website celebrates the new season's fixtures with an image of last season's champions lifting the trophy.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


To all those who have shared the pain, 

to all those sent insane,

to those, who drank it in,  

to all those who believed what they saw

to all those who couldn't believe their eyes;

to those that toasted with champagne, flat beer, stale ale, Russian vodka, Spanish sherry, Portuguese wine, prize gin, a nice cup of tea or a glass of grappa.

to those on the Hobec, the Delirium and the Alpha Super Dortmunder  

to those who hugged, bumped, shuddered, cried and bruised their legs at Wembley 99, 

to those who gaped at Oldham when Big Andy flexed his neck; 

to those who saw the pie hit Peter Willis 

to he who launched it

to those in the snow of Walsall and the rain of Hillsborough and the howling gale at Vicarage Road

to those getting sun burnt and to those catching a cold

to those who got washed out on the perimetre wall at Boundary Park when Smith missed his pen, 

to those who swore at Lincoln they'd never come again; 

to the bloke who ripped up his season ticket book on the pitch v Bury,

to all those who have resorted to the creme de menthe and pastis 

to those that have run around dazed for days, 

to those in a beer-sodden haze

to those that have laughed, cajoled, persisted and wished us on from afar; 

to all those that supported us, put up with us, slapped our backs, kept us sane, avoided eye contact, didn't say what they were thinking, left things unsaid; 

to all those that sang their hearts out, wrote, sympathised, phoned, emailed, messaged, reflected and thought of us; 

to all those in the Oscar Wilde in Berlin when City played Blackburn and the Lord smiled on us;

to all those in fancy dress at the Victoria Ground

to all those refs who we questioned

to all the linesmen we abused

to all those parents of refs who we doubted existed

to all those in Sale and Brooklands, in Cheadle and Prestwich, Collyhurst and Stalybridge

to those in Moston and Altrincham, Gorton and Ancoats

To glorious Stockport and rainy Denton

To all those Everton fans singing Blue Moon

to all those left behind in Amsterdam, in Alkmaar, in Dusseldorf, in Luzern, in Ballasalla, in Valencia, in Barcelona, in Lisbon, in Gonçal Bocas, in Alicante, in The Hague, in Porto, in Clermont Ferrand, in Haarlem, in Ponsacco, in Baltimore and Denver; 

to all those sharing a moment at 3 o'clock every Saturday; 

to all those who doubted, poked fun, poured scorn, cried foul; 

to all those who believed, believed some more, hoped, lost sleep, threw up, fell out, jumped in; 

to all those who waxed lyrical, shouted from the rooftops, bellowed, cried and stood firm; 

to all those that went home and away; 

to all those in The Comfy Cushion, The Parkside, The Whitestone, The Vine, The Navigation Inn, The White Hart, The Broadfield, Terry Neil’s, Mary D's, The Sale Hotel, The Blarney Stone, The Green Man, The Boardroom, Yate's, The Pumphouse; The Funzel, The Little B, The Proeflokaal, The Glue Pot, The George Hotel and The Lancashire.

to all those that propped us up, put an arm around us, bought us a drink, put up with our moods, pretended to listen, spared us a thought; ruffled our hair; bought us a consolation pint of Terribly Bitter

to all those with oil money and no history,

to plastic seats and plastic fans

to those who were at Rotherham when King Colin scored

to those who saw Bert bend his neck

to those in the biggest Maine Road crowds, the men and boys, girls and mums who really existed, but never count

to those who were not really there, time and time again

To Gerry Gow and Ian Bishop

To Tommy Hutch and goals at both ends

to all those at Ewood Park, The Den, Saltergate, Bootham Crescent; 

to all those who tackled, blocked, saved, scored, headed, came on, came off, jumped, challenged and played out of their skins;

to all those who sang long and hard deep into the night;

to all those who dared to dream;

to all those who still dream;

to Dickov and the Goat;

to all who cheered themselves hoarse at Wrexham and Stoke;

to all who ran the gauntlet at Huddersfield and Wolverhampton;

to all those on the pop at Meadow Lane

who felt the joy and felt the pain, 

to all those who sang louder the worse it got;

to all those who renewed for Division Three

when City were buried beneath a tree

to the 30,000 that turned out for Blackpool; 

to the fans who never were and never will be

to all those on the InterCity to Newcastle;

to all those in the minibus to Swansea

to all those hitch-hiking to Plymouth 

to all those on the boat to Bilbao and in a van to Enschede

to those that never came back.

to all those in Gelsenkirchen and Copenhagen, Liege and Santander 

to all those on the fishing smack to the Faroes 

to all those in the double decker at Lokeren;

to all those enoying a Gaudino drive,

to all those dead and alive,

to all those who empathise, sympathise, chastise, romanticise;

to all those who tried to understand despite everything;

to all those who support United, Everton, Leeds, Chelsea but put up with us as mates on non-match days;

to Rodney Marsh and to Tony Towers 

to Glauber Berti and Robinho

to all those who support MSV, Schalke, Sporting, Napoli, Benfica, Juve, AZ, Ajax, Belenenses, Valencia but now support City a little bit too;

to all those who have caught the bug

to all those that offered a hug;

to all those who send text messages when we lose

to all those who have it in your hearts to say "come on Blues" just to make us happy

to John Aldridge and Phil Thompson

to all those with logic and compassion

to all those writing, thinking, posting, tweeting;

to all those who were there and will be there

to all those who have watched our boys at Wembley

to all those who knees didn't go all trembly

to all those who wish they could be there

to all those new to the throng

to all those who can never go again

to all those wizened, cracked, broken and chastened

to all those for whom hope is the killer

to Paolo Wanchope and Kevin Horlock

to Micky Horswill and Geoff Hammond

to the unsung heroes and the bottle washers 

to all those who find a treble bittersweet

to all those that find that quite a feat

to those that dare not look 

To all the captains and to Tony Book 

to the kitmen and the carpert cleaners;

to all those driving Lamborghinis

to all those prematurely thinning

to the change from losing to winning  

to Nigel de Jong and Mario Balotelli

to guvnors and young guvnors

to all those who have played like we dream

to all those who have dreamed

to all those who have had a nightmare

to Jamie Pollock and Neil Heaney, to Jason van Blerk and the boy Beesley

to all those for whom a Blue Moon rising sends a little shivver down the spine;

to all those who climbed the fences at Villa Park;

to all those who saw next to nothing at London Road;

to all those who watched six go into the Norwich net;

to all those who clapped Big Mal across the turf

to all those who flew with Steve Mackenzie;

to all those who sank with Ricky Villa;

to Paul Power and the Goodison mud

to all those whose limbs went thud

to Bobby Mac in goals 

to David James upfront

to Neil Young and Arthur Mann, to Malcolm Allison and John Benson;

to Roy Paul and Don Revie, to Genial Joe and Tommy Caton;

to Whiteys two, Quinny and Lakey;

to Roy the physio and Beanie the horse.

to all those who waved a banana and sang Blue Moon;

to all those who cheered in the rain in the Prater;

to all those who took a punch on the nose at Barnsley

to all those asked the time at Millwall

to all those who played on through the pain;

to all those who watched four goals go in on Tyneside;

to Stan Gibson and his pitchfork;

to Bert Trautmann and the never-say-die spirit;

to Buzzer, Franny and Colin the King;

to the indomitable spirit of Pablo Zabaleta

to those who have walked Claremont Road;

to those who have raised a glass at the City Gates;

to Kevin Reeves and Paul Sugrue;

to Bill Taylor and Peter Swales;

to Bernard John Halford and Terry Cook;

To all those who dare not look

To straight-faced Ron Saunders

to all those who have risked food poisoning, drank too much and never regretted a moment;

to all those hemmed in at Bradford, on the hill at Blackburn, behind the wire at Wednesday, in the sheeting rain at Huddersfield

to all those who entered enemy territory;

to the guy who jumped on Keith Curle at Old Trafford;

to quiet Mel and out of his depth John, to squeaky Alan and confused Phil;

to Uwe Rosler and Steffan Karl;

to our Asa.

to all those who played bit parts;

to all those who scored off the far post;

to all those that thought we could coast

to those that put 5 in the United net;

to those that made it six

to those that thought the sun would never shine

to those that saw Dickov slide in the rain;

to those that stayed and those that left and those that turned back and came again

to Bondy, Jimmy Frizz and Big Billy Mac

to Georgi Kinkladze and Murtaz Shelia;

to all those who watched Kernaghan, McNaught and Davidson and still raised a cheer;

to the legendary 8,000;

to all those that sank 12 pints with Bobby Mac and Gerry Gow

to those that swayed on the Kippax, bawled in the Platt Lane, chanted in the North Stand and launched pies in the Main Stand;

to those Chaos Coaches from Prestwich and Whitefield 

to those that got on the pitch at Loftus Road

to Binman Bob

to Mark Lillis' shorts and Gordon Davies' dance steps 

to all those who saw the glory of Wrexham and Real Madrid

to Captain Vinny, here's to you

to Freddie Pye and Trumann's steel

to all those who craned their necks, asked who it was, smiled, tutted and shook their heads;

to all those who saw Dennis fly at Wembley;

to those who had a surreptitious leak;

to those who wet themselves;

to those who hung on and have hung on until now;

to those who never gave up;

to those who came back;

to those who can't take anymore;

to those who went away;

to those who are there in spirit;

to all those who will not see what happens next;

to those who don’t know how long they’ve got

to all those who have seen enough already;

to those who will take what comes

to all those who packed the boozers at West Brom and Watford, Carlisle and Nottingham;

to those rubbing their hands and eyes at Gay Meadow and The Shay;

to all those for whom Górnik Zabrze means something;

to all those raising the forest roof in Apeldoorn

to Peter Barnes and to Dennis Tueart; 

to Denis and his back-heel;

And to how that made you feel.

to Barney Daniels; to Stuart Lee

to all those that like history

to Gerald Sinstadt, David Coleman, Barry Davies, John Motson, Brian Moore and those who have put silken words to our deeds;

to all those on the quays in Porto and shivering in Red Square 

to those drinking sherry in the Mercado San Miguel

to Captain of Captains Mike Doyle;

to Dom Sullivan and Gordon Dalziel

to Barry Silkman and Dave Wiffill

to all those with too many blue garments;

to all those who refuse to wear red

to all those who refuse to remove their lucky underpants;

to those with their sleeves rolled up

to those with a clenched fist

to those with a welcoming hug

to all those in their match gear

to all those who don't really know how to cope,

to all those who don't understand why we do it;

to all those who have spent their last pound on a ticket;

to all those at the Full Members Cup and the Auto Windscreens;

to all those at Darlington and York;

to Edin Dzeko and Kolarov

to Kevin de Bruyne and Demichelis 

to Pete the Badge and Elvis the seagull

to those who love not knowing what comes next;

to The Elephant of Bondoukou

to all those who fret and worry

to those who take it in their stride

to little El Mago and his pirouettes

to all those who keep on coming

to all those drinking red wine on the Bakerloo Line

to all those on the port in Porto

to Big Joe and to Helen and her bell

to the Kings of the Kippax

to those with memories of Maine Road

to all those in the 93rd minute v QPR

to all those climbing the steps at the Nou Camp

to those neutrals who will us on

to those who couldn't give a shit

to those who can take it and those who cannot.

to Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane

to Gary Owen and Tommy Booth,

to all those memories that grate and soothe

to fedoras and ski hats

to shellsuits and flat caps

to those that prefer the simple bar scarf

to those that preferred to streak

to those having a very public leak

to those on the hard shoulder

to those left in the lay-by

to those on the pub roof in Nottingham

to those climbing lamp posts in Sittard

to those on the gin

to those living in sin

to those who smell of curry

to those who can only worry

to Ron Healy and Perry Suckling

to Kevin Ellegaard and flexible John Burridge

to ginger Keith and Daniel Sturridge

to Stephen Ireland's gran and Elano's slam

to big Richard Dunne and the year of the ton.

to clocks that run to 93:20 and to those who thought survival was plenty.

to the Brightwells, the Morleys and the Futchers

to those that hang around training for a butchers

to Glyn Pardoe and Kenny Clements

to Riyad Mahrez and his twinkling feet

to Sergio and Carlos Argentina neat

to those who tweaked muscles, broke bones, cracked heads

to those that surged forward, to those that chased back.

to Fernandinho, to Ilkay and to all out attack.

to those that didn't make it and to those that will come

to those that felt rain and to those in the sun

to basking at Stoke and v Bournemouth only to lose out

to leaping at Ewood and shouting the good shout

to all those freezing on the Scottie Road

to those in the throbbing mass at Villa Park 

to those in plenty of space at the Autowindscreens

to all Full Members and Simod Cuppers

to all who were there when we were on our uppers.

to Richard Jobson and Spencer Prior

to those that speak truth and not to the liar

To the class and style of Roberto Mancini

To the charm and guile of Manuel Pellegrini

To Frank Clark and his guitar

To those watching from afar

To Jamie Paradise with his 3 out of ten

To Bennett, Dave and Thatcher, Ben

To Foden Phil of Stockport town

To Pep the king

Who makes us sing

To all those at Elland Road

To all those who bear the load.

To Gerry Creaney and the law of averages

To Colin Viljoen and Micky Channon

To all those who gave the Liverpool slant

To those that offered bullshit and kant

To those that gave us credit and those that pulled the plug

To those that read Alyson Rudd

To Roger Palmer and Nicolas Anelka

To Derek Potter and John Bean

To the Lees Bradbury, Mills and Francis

To the Summerbee and the winter wasp

To all those that count the cost.

To all those that can’t afford

To those that live like a lord

To John Aldridge and his ceremonial sword

To David Phillips and Derek Parlane

To all those that felt no shame

To Kevin Keegan's might men

to Berkovic and Little Ali a proper gem

To Neil McNab, to Willie Donachie

To Dave Watson and big Mick McCarthy

to the balls that flew and those that popped

to those that lied and photoshopped

To Bramall Lane and Valley Parade

To Paul Stewart and the flashing blade

to Bernardo Silva, Rony Lopes and the Benfica gang

to all those that bawled and sang 

To those that sniffed and those that smirked

To those that doubted and those that hurt

To all those that put sweat on the shirt

To Steppi Stepanovic Come on You Blues

To the exhortations you choose to use

To chicken balti and warm Lamot

To Jesus Navas who's got the lot

To those in the sun of Seville

To those in the rain of Vienna

To Fiona Richmond in the bath

To Groenendijk and having a laugh

To Peter Reid and Clive Allen

to Nicky Reid and Clever Trevor

To Trevor Morley and Raheem Sterling

To the Gareths Barry and Taylor

To Nelly Young and Alan Oakes

To Liam and Noel and other blokes

To National Express and British Rail

To Tom Garner through the wind and hail

To Jo

To Kakhaber Tskhadadze

To all the other letters of the alphabet

To Gordon Dalziel and to Arthur Mann

To Les McDowall and the Revie Plan

To Paula and Lucas and little Sam

To to all those who breathe and weep

and live and sleep

Manchester City.

to all those who dared believe one day we would come out into the summer sun;

You played your part, City have won.

Other Tedious Stuff

Poets and Lyricists