Thursday, 8 May 2014

A game of two…feelings

So very proud of the players; who dominated and who were persistent against a VERY stubborn Aston Villa side. So very disappointed, disgusted and frustrated at most of the crowd; who, for the most part, were silent (until we scored) and literally ‘missing in action’!


Moan first…then I’ll move on

My annoyance at the crowd was visible. My wife was asking me to calm down and the [nice] bloke next to me asked if I was now enjoying myself when we went 3-0 up. With eventual rumours filtering through that there had been some kind of incident blocking-off one of the local Motorways, there were – and I mean this – literally THOUSANDS of empty seats not just at kick-off but 20…even 30 minutes into the game.
Okay, so we’ve now since discovered that it was someone threatening to jump from a bridge over the Mancunian Way, but…
…10 minutes into the second half, when people made the “effort” to return from the concourse areas, it eventually looked something like a Premier League football ground belonging to a team that was just 125 minutes away from winning the league title.
There were pockets of fans making the effort [to sing] - perhaps a few hundred in the South Stand and in the lower-tier-corner of the East Stand; who were occasionally making some noise. Then there were very isolated fans dotted around like me who tried to carry on their efforts and spread the noise around; even if it was just a few belts of, “C’mon City…”
Some may argue that it’s a ‘choice thing’ – after all it’s not a dictatorship that we live in and you can choose whether or not to vocally support your team; trying to verbally push your beloved team over the finishing line in the ONLY way you CAN do from your expensive seat. But, to those people, I would reply by asking,
“Well if you’re not going to provide vocal support to your team when they need it why bother going at all? If you choose to sit down in silence then why not save yourself the price of a match-day ticket / season ticket and watch it in perfect silence from the comfort of your own armchair?"
I’m not talking about screaming for 90+ minutes every…single…game  - even I have my off days (and I tend not to START songs much these days either). But there are times when, for me, it’s your DUTY to try and lift / support the lads from the stands.
And do you know what…on 64 minutes - just 26 flippin’ minutes from the end of the game - the ground erupted! Not just when Dzeko scored but for the several minutes that followed. The word ‘caldron’ is often used to describe such atmospheres but seriously; it went from almost deafening silence at times to it being ear-piercingly loud for a good while!
All those slumbering throughout most of the game were even joining in – even the pathetic Family Stand woke up; a stand, which, has been the focus of some considerable debate over the last few weeks and months on City Voice.
So it CAN be done. And in case you were wondering, it most certainly wasn’t a ‘nervousness thing’ either, which I could certainly forgive and understand. There was an optimistic buzz about the place and so it can’t be pinned down to that in my opinion.
Edin Dzeko said on Sky Sports after the game that he wished to thank the fans [for their support] last night and that he hopes they can be as good as today. What?!
Thank you for your kind words, Edin, but I can only think that the last 20-odd minutes were firmly etched into your memory as you said that…
And then, just to add to my own doubts about just how noisy it was or, indeed, wasn’t; the Manchester Evening News today then print a strip down the side of one of their pages ALSO proclaiming how brilliant the City fans had been last night. Again…What?!
No I know I am [officially] a bit deaf but even I can tell the difference between a vociferous crowd and one, which, just can’t be arsed.
But if I have, somehow, lost to ability to tell one scenario from the other then there’s no mistaking the likes of the 4 blokes behind me. I’ve mentioned them before…and I lie not one bit when I tell you that I was seriously plotting, as I sat there last night, to bring some [red] wool with me at the oh-so-very-vital West Ham game on Sunday; to leave in their seats for their, no doubt, late arrival.
Listening to them ‘babble on’ about non-football related issues for what seemed like the whole of the first half and some of the second, it sounded like a meeting of the W.I. for flip’s sake! They’re not even new-comers - three of them I’ve seen at City for YEARS!
And here’s the thing…they USED to be more vocal, I’m sure they did. Perhaps they are victims of not just ‘modern-day football’ but also success – it sure didn’t pass me by without me noticing that the quietest set of European supporters by FAR that we’ve ever had at the Etihad were, very recently, Barcelona
As I was leaving the ground my irritations began to eventually affect my wife. Rather than enjoying the occasion and being elated at the eventual drubbing and one more ‘job done’, I was still bleating on about the lack of support on such a vital and special occasion as we made our way down the spiral. I was, understandably, getting on her nerves and so I shut up.
But when we got home I STILL felt the need to fire off a text telling my fellow Blue friends that I was so proud of the players but felt let down by the crowd. One reply simply asked me to cheer up and together with my wife, who had been trying her best to lift my mood, I gave in and calmed down.
I’m still considering the ‘wool thing’ though…

On the pitch

Right…sorry about that. Moan over.
Wow!  We dominated…utterly dominated a team hell-bent on defending, defending, defending. There’s some Manager in the Premier League who bleats on about that, isn’t there? One who both has to endure it and then, when it suits, employs the same, much-maligned tactic.
The difference between us & Chelsea though is that we are relentless in our endeavour to break them down and are confident in our own ability to do so. And we do HAVE the ability…and a lot of that belief is credit our ‘Engineer’.
I will say that it helped that Villa had key players missing in their attack and that’s the reason both Martin & Vinny had a relatively comfortable night of it. They did it when it mattered though and produced a fine display.
Similarly the same situation allowed both Alex & Pablo to maraud forward for most of the night; acting more like wingers in a formation that seemed to be 2-7-1 for large parts of the game.
I won’t go through all of them but will, instead, point out a few.
Edin continues to grow in confidence and is in danger of even becoming consistent. He was very good again last night – he’s had a good season, goal-scoring-wise, and it’s a shame the season is coming to an end in that respect.
Yaya, when it counted, was utterly unstoppable last night! "Men against boys" was how the BBC later described it for the forth goal and to set up the 3rd; he showed the kind of fast, tricky footwork I thought only David was capable of in a City shirt. Amazing!
A mention for Stevan too – what a finish from a player who continues to impress me and ooze class. We really are going to see the benefits of him having a full pre-season under his belt I'm sure.
But Pablo! What a ******' man (as the song goes)! As if it was possible; he just gets better and better and BETTER! Huh…and the Manchester Evening News, here, skitted “Who needs Sagna?” Well they might have got a bit too excited in their understandable praise for our right-back but imagine how he’d be if he was given a break from time to time?! I would welcome Sagna with open arms…

Just one more final push!

There are still some understandable nervousness from City fans out there – I’ve spoken to a few today. But if we produce the same kind of performance as last night against West Ham I am confident we can take another 3 points to final glory!
I don’t see West Ham as being quite as resilient as Aston Villa – they’re a funny ol’ side who can look very vulnerable a lot of the time under Sam Allardyce. I suppose what worries me a little is that, unlike last night’s Villa side; The Hammers do have players who can hurt you if you slip up and give ‘em an inch. They’re certainly dangerous from set pieces too. Not just these two but I’m thinking Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll here.
But after fretting about the support last night I am enjoying the moment once again; I am looking forward to Sunday with an optimistic spring in my step and just can’t see us slipping up now - sorry Stevie-G, no pun intended…
Love this banner by the way…

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