It’s A Week in the City and we’re mostly going to be talking about gardening.
The Anfield Grass
In a week which saw Greggs unveil a vegan sausage roll, it was difficult to imagine that any higher level of controversy could exist. Of course, this was until Manchester City emerged as victors against Liverpool which, naturally, could never be without controversy. Last year it was “should Mané really have been sent off for karate-kicking a goalkeeper in the head?” and this year we have both the decision not to send off Vincent Kompany and the idea that Hawkeye, an inanimate piece of software, is inherently biased against Liverpool Football Club.
The funniest of the excuses/conspiracy theories, however, came courtesy of The Anfield Wrap, when presenter Neil Atkinson had a legitimate conversation with an actual journalist, Melissa Reddy, about the length of the grass at the Etihad which didn’t involve the phrase “are you serious?”. The excuse is a meme in its own right and doesn’t really need me to go into detail on just why exactly this is the most ridiculous thing to cling to after a defeat, the logic being that Pep Guardiola, in a bid to “stop fast passing”, has implemented a strategy which would hamstring his own side, who aren’t exactly known for being the slowest of passing teams. The Anfield Wrap have obviously realised that this video has turned them into a bit of a joke (which they obviously aren’t, their podcasts/YouTube videos are actually good) as the video including this has since been removed.
This odd assertion, combined with a post-match article on their site which made the claim that, because City fans have made a version of ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ which mocks Liverpool, “no fanbase has deserved a football team less”, makes the idea that the Merseyside lot don’t regard us as rivals seem more far-fetched by the day. There’s a level of bitterness towards us, and vice-versa, which doesn’t exist between teams who are merely indifferent to one another.
I’ve no issue with saying I regard Liverpool as a rival. I absolutely do. For some odd reason scousers consider themselves somehow above the rivalry. “I just don’t feel this whole rivalry thing” they say as they retweet the Liverpool Echo’s clickbait bollocks about empty seats at the Eithad. “I don’t get why they’re so obsessed” they say as they write articles about how City fans deserve a football team less than anybody else on the planet, even racists. If it’s not a rivalry, as they claim, we’ll see what the reaction is if City win the league in May. If they’re magnanimous in defeat, “fair play, this is one of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen, no shame in losing to them”, then absolutely fair enough. But we all know that’s a long way from reality.
City were finally active in the transfer window – though sadly not for an incoming player. After months of speculation, Brahim Diaz completed his move to Real Madrid for an initial £15.5 million, with a further £6.5 million in add-ons to potentially follow. Madrid announced the transfer immediately after their 2-0 defeat to Getafe and I’m sure that every Madridista will have breathed a sigh of relief, knowing their season is safe in the hands of an unproven 19-year-old who’s made three whole appearance at Manchester City this season.
City will receive 15% of the next transfer fee for Brahim, unless Manchester United buy him in which case City will receive 40%. This clause is the one which most media outlets have picked up on and honestly, it’s a bit odd. It shows that City clearly still rate him quite highly, which is no surprise given that Madrid are willing to pay that amount of money for him in January rather than wait 6 months and get him for free, though if we get hypothetical, the idea of Manchester United paying £50 million for him in a few years and £20 million of that going directly to City is quite funny.
Needless to say, this transfer has raised the age-old question about the academy once again. It’s the media, this time, who’ve decided to count a long, growing list of talent which has been allowed to leave the Etihad in the last 5 years. Whilst this list is probably designed to make the club look bad, it actually looks quite good on paper. Obviously the name Jadon Sancho sticks out like an incredibly sore, regret-filled thumb, the rest however have gone on to do very little to indicate that letting them go was a huge mistake, with the potential possibility of Rony Lopes, who I’m convinced could be a squad player in this side with no problems.
But no, apparently Phil Foden is looking at the illustrious career of Olivier Ntcham up in Scotland and regretting every moment he spends at the club. After all, 18-year-olds should expect first team football every week at one of the top clubs in the world. Jadon Sancho isn’t an exceptional, generational talent. No, he’s the norm, didn’t you know? Every game he doesn’t feature in will be growing evidence to the media that Foden is wasting his career by playing for the best manager in the world at his boyhood club.
Still, good luck to Brahim. I have my doubts about this move but I hope he proves me wrong.
Jamie Carragher’s Spitting Feathers
Jamie Carragher angered a lot of City fans this week and not just because he once spat on a little girl. As Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves, making it two defeats in a week and one less trophy for the trophy-less Klopp to aim for, he made the point on Twitter that the defeat may be beneficial for Liverpool in the long run, as their lead at the top of the Premier League table is undoubtedly the club’s priority (not a particularly unreasonable opinion). A City fan then replied, telling him he has a small-club mentality (again, not a particularly unreasonable opinion) and Carragher then replied to him with the following:
Needless to say, it hasn’t gone down particularly well amongst City fans. I understand why, it’s irritating enough when opposition fans mock us for empty seats despite plenty of evidence that the problem is nowhere near as bad as people make out. However when somebody from the media, one of the best known football presenters in the country for Sky Sports, no less, makes a petty remark about stadium attendances then it’s like a spit in the face of your daughter while driving down a motorway.
It has been pointed out, of course, that Carragher retweeted, presumably in support of, an article which points out the fact that a chant telling scousers to “sign on” is actually a huge problem as it betrays the working class roots of football. Yet when it comes to mocking other clubs for having less people attend, presumably due to, in part, plenty of fans not being able to find the money to go to every single football game, that’s fair game. Chants aren’t allowed, but mockery, and spitting on little girls, is.
In honesty, do I think that Carragher was making any kind of comment about the financial capabilities of Manchester City fans? No. Of course not. He was just engaging in crap Football-Twitter-esque banter because he was mad that his team got knocked out of the FA Cup. It doesn’t make it any less of a ridiculous comeback, and he didn’t help himself by then replying to Simon Bajkowski’s response to effectively say that anybody who thinks City fans can’t afford tickets is a liar, but I think the brief City Twitter furore that followed about Carragher’s hypocritical dismissal of those in poverty was a bit over the top.
Is he thick? Absolutely. He spat on a little girl because he thought that despite travelling 70mph at the time he could both aim his spit well enough and defy physics enough to get the spit past her and onto her dad. I don’t think he’s got any actual malice in this case, just stupidity. Let’s all just unite and spam his Twitter replies with “yeah, but you spat on a little girl lol”. Jamie Carragher spat on a little girl once, you know.
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