It might be the international break, but that doesn’t mean Joe Butterfield isn’t talking all things City! After all, we really need to talk about TalkSport, cup draws, and Kyle Walker’s Twitter account…
Manchester City should play another game in April
“For me, this debate is absolutely valid. If Manchester City, who we know have the best resources in the country bar none, just as a reward and giving Swansea what they deserve they should go to them and say, ‘Look, it wasn’t right, there wasn’t VAR, do you want a replay of the game?’”
This is a legitimate piece of radio which went out on Monday morning, via the personification of clickbait himself, Adrian Durham. Naturally it came from talkSPORT, a radio station which is a bit like an audio version of The Sun. A cold, strong pint of football chat with the LADS. JUST YOU AND THE BOYS TALKIN’ ABOUT FOOTBALL. NO GIRLS ALLOWED. PASS ME PAGE 3 WHEN YOU’RE DONE WITH IT, LAD!
Once you’ve hunkered down in the car for the drives to and from work with your pals, Alan Brazil, Dean Saunders, Darren Gough and Adrian Durham, you immediately let your brain turn to paste as the hottest of football’s hot takes and only the most footballing of football men wash over you, telling you about the good ol’ days when proper tackling was allowed and “this intergram and tweeter nonsense” weren’t ruining the game.
This one, however, was a particularly terrible take. The basis of the argument, as certain people on Twitter had intimated before Durham took to the radio, was that back in 1999, Arsene Wenger had offered Sheffield United a rematch after Arsenal won the game courtesy of a goal scored off the back of a throw-in which followed Sheffield kicking it out for an injured player. Therefore, as City also won by means which many would define as “unfair”, the same offer should be extended to Swansea.
For those who are somehow unaware, City went in at half time two goals down to Swansea, courtesy of a very good goal from Bersant Celina (the Football Manager “he’s scored against his old club!” glitch strikes again) and a penalty given away by Fabian Delph, who has now almost certainly played his last game for the club having gone in for a challenge which was almost as stupid as his decision not to vaccinate his children.
City then went on to win the game after a goal from Bernardo, a penalty decision which is fair to call “suspect” and a winning goal from Aguero which was very offside. VAR was not in use at the Liberty Stadium as apparently being a Championship stadium removes your capacity to connect to a VAR team via satellite. If only there was a way that television pictures could be broadcast from the stadium to a room somewhere else in the country!
Naturally, this cannot stand. Manchester City can’t be expected to accept this favourable result, they must overturn it and do the right thing for all of football. Nae, the right thing for all of humanity!
Of course, the idea is ridiculous and it’s once again an example of Manchester City’s players and teams being held up to a standard which nobody else is expected to meet. It was only around 4 or 5 months ago that Raheem Sterling was being told that he should have turned down a penalty given after he tripped over the ground and won a penalty for his team, something which nobody who’s ever dived has ever been expected to do, let alone accidentally fall over. Now the entire club is being expected to turn down a victory and offer a replay in the interest of “fair play”, when absolutely nobody else who has ever won a game unfairly has ever been expected to do.
When Liverpool beat Manchester City last season in the Champions League, with a goal incorrectly ruled out after blatantly hitting James Milner early in the second leg, should Milner have held his hands up and insisted the goal stood? When Liverpool drew 1-1 with West Ham in February, with James Milner offside in the build-up to Liverpool’s goal and ultimately denying West ham of two points, were Liverpool asked to offer them a replay in the interest of fair play?
No. And no other club would be. Because they’re not Manchester City, who Adrian Durham basically implies are already unfair because of their unmatched resources. Therefore we must handicap ourselves by overturning all incorrect decisions which go in our favour. What would happen if we played a replay and scored five goals in the first half an hour? Would the media insist that we should have scored two own goals and waited until half time, then see if we got the comeback “fairly”?
Of course, this whole farce is caveated by the fact that Adrian Durham is the man who’s saying it. A man who has made a career out of completely abandoning his own footballing beliefs for the sake of being a pantomime villain on national radio every evening. There’s probably somebody who’s written a list of the ludicrous claims he’s made throughout his years on the radio though none have any basis in fact. He lives to rile fans up and, whilst I accept that I’ve risen to it somewhat with this article, it has been a slow news week, so please give me a break.
Manchester City have had it too easy in the cups
So, as Manchester City progressed to the FA Cup semi-final and Wolves knocked out a Manchester United team that looked like it was straight out of the José Mourinho era, it looked like City were once again going to go into the latter stages of a competition without having to face “one of the big boys” along the way. Of course, this is now a massive debate, given certain sections of the media have prepared their caveat should the mythic quadruple come to pass.
Last season, the 100 points total was seen as a great achievement but the team could not be considered one of the best in history, as they “haven’t retained it or won a European trophy”. No doubt winning the quadruple now, even including a Champions League, would come with the caveat that “they never had to play anybody tough until the semi-final”. God help us all if Ajax beat Juventus.
So let’s break this down and get into where our top 6 rivals fell. We’ll start with the Carabao Cup:
Manchester City – WINNERS
Liverpool – knocked out in the 3rd round by Chelsea
Tottenham – knocked out in the semi-final by Chelsea
Manchester United – knocked out in the 3rd round by Derby
Arsenal – knocked out in the quarter finals by Tottenham
Chelsea – finalists
Okay, so there’s a bit of luck involved here. All but Manchester United were knocked out by a fellow top 6 rival and I suppose you could call the fact that Manchester City avoided anybody else until the final fortunate. Despite this, City played three Premier League teams on the way to winning it, including an away trip to Leicester, a team that has caused City a lot of problems over the last few years.
Now for the FA Cup:
Manchester City – playing semi-final against Brighton
Liverpool – knocked out in the 3rd round by Wolves
Tottenham – knocked out in the 4th round by Crystal Palace
Manchester United – knocked out in the quarter finals by Wolves
Arsenal – knocked out in the 4th round by Manchester United
Chelsea – knocked out in the 5th round by Manchester United
The obvious exception is Manchester United, who had to beat Arsenal and Chelsea along the way and clearly had the most difficult run of any of the teams here. However, they ultimately still got knocked out by Wolves who, as good as they’ve been this season (especially against top sides), United should still be beating if they have a chance of winning any kind of silverware.
Liverpool were also knocked out by Wolves as they opted to effectively bin off the competition with the arrogance of a team who think that getting rid of one competition will immediately give them a better chance of winning the league, playing youngsters Camacho and Jones with a front-line of Origi and Sturridge.
If you fancy getting yourself knocked out of a cup competition to give yourself extra rest later in the season, that’s absolutely your prerogative, just don’t point the finger at anybody else when they get to the semi-final because they actually tried.
Tottenham have suffered defeats in both competitions due to a complete indifference coming directly from the top down. Pochettino has no interest in winning any domestic trophies and has even gone so far as to say that winning trophies only “fuels egos” and has gone on record multiple times as saying that the top four is almost like winning a trophy in itself, a statement which I seem to recall haunted a certain Arsenal manager until his eventual resignation from the job.
Yet Mauricio could almost literally come out in a press conference and wipe his arse on a picture of the FA Cup trophy, holding aloft a brown-smeared picture and The Independent would still write an editorial on why he’s got Spurs punching well above their weight. The issue there isn’t Manchester City’s luck. It’s Tottenham’s indifference.
As for United? Well, what do you say about them. They’re a hilarious club. A fanbase who has been singing a poor bastardisation of a Stone Roses song for the last three months has watched Olé’s hand slip on the wheel ever so slightly, sending the car veering into a ditch. With an inevitable Champions League exit at the hands of Messi on the horizon, if Olé doesn’t make amends for his top four six-pointer defeat at the hands of Arsenal and manage to push United back into the Champions League spots, it suddenly looks a lot less rosy for the noisy neighbours.
I will concede that, on a cup competition level, they’ve had a rough time of it in the FA Cup, having to face both Arsenal and Chelsea. However, once those two have been easily dispatched, you can’t turn around and call Wolves the tough game.
In terms of the Champions League, it’s not even something I’m going to entertain. Manchester City won the league last year, therefore they were the top seed in their group. They got an easy group. That’s how seeding works. They topped their group and got an easy tie in the knockout stage. That’s how seeding works. In the quarter-final stage it’s a bit disingenuous to call any draw “easy”, however Spurs are certainly a bigger challenge than Ajax or Porto.
Ultimately, as the old cliché goes, you can only beat what’s put in front of you, and plenty of City’s fellow top six rivals have failed to do that on a number of occasions in the cup competitions over the years. It’ll all be irrelevant should City win no further trophies between now and the end of the season, but should we perform the miraculous quadruple, you can guarantee the media will be desperately searching through our fixture list to find a way to play down the achievement.
We need to talk about Kyle Walker’s Twitter account
I’m not usually one to read too much into football players and their social media activity, much less so complain about them. Benjamin Mendy (the now silent Benjamin Mendy) was entertainment gold throughout last season, as his regular Twitter and Instagram activity kept the spirits of the fans high in his eternal absence and no doubt the spirits of the dressing room also. Raheem Sterling, having recently discovered he has a Twitter password, has been great to see interacting with fans and even Piers Morgan. It’s great. Social media is great for fans interacting with players. This is not a talkSPORT-esque ‘yer da’ rant.
Having said all of this, Kyle Walker’s social media activity is a little bit infuriating. The main reason behind this is that it’s so clearly not him who’s doing it.
I don’t want to burst the bubble for everybody, and it doesn’t take away from how much you may have enjoyed it throughout all of last season, but Mendy’s Twitter activity was absolutely not his own. There’s the odd exception, the occasional tweet here and there and obviously his Snapchat and Instagram are very much his own as you can see from his stories on the two apps, however his Twitter activity is very much not his own.
The same is true of Walker. His account is run by a social media agency and it has basically become a desperate attempt to jump on the back of the latest trends and memes and it’s not at all funny to me. It might be to some people, and if you’re one of them then more power to you, but for me I just find it incredibly cringey and pandering.
It’s just reaching for kids and teenagers to buy into the Kyle Walker brand, which is obviously the point of players having social media nowadays, but that’s generally done by being good at football and having nice Nike boots given to you every couple of months. Instead the below, posted immediately after City drew Spurs in the Champions League, is just ridiculous and obviously not something a player would ever post when drawn against their old club (the fans of which still harbour some resentment for the fact that he left) in a Champions League quarter final.
For those of you who are in the middle of typing out a reply on Twitter to the posting of this article about how ridiculous I’m being and how I don’t know Kyle Walker or how he’d react to things, please see the below Tweet which then went out later that day with a much more muted and professional tone and is so much more obviously written with Walker’s say so.
Things like the below, cashing on trending memes and completely unrelated to Walker himself, are equally unlike anything a player would ever actually post:
I suppose what annoys me the most is the fakeness of it all. It’s not a problem exclusive to Kyle Walker, as I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of professional footballer social media accounts run in precisely the same way. However, as this one is a City player’s and probably the most blatant, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
There’s not really a huge point to be made here, I just wish that social media people would try to make things a bit more authentic and genuine than anything else. Kyle Walker’s Twitter page honestly might as well just be called BBC Sporf or UNILAD footy. A lot of his posts are just memes or jokes about his team-mates, which makes the need for them on Walker’s Twitter even more redundant.
It just strikes me as trying to create a viral brand more than a personality which, even in this cynical, corporate football world we live in, is incredibly irritating to me.
You can follow Joe on Twitter: @joebutters
You can follow us on Twitter for more Manchester City content: @City_Xtra