Manchester City’s ‘one club’ strategy has been game changing in the exposure of women’s football. In recent days, the club announced the first game of the FA Women’s Super League season will be held at the Etihad Stadium, as opposed to the Academy Stadium, hopefully giving Nick Cushing’s side the chance to show the City faithful just how good they are and build on the appreciation of women’s football in England following the World Cup in France.
That is by no means the first move though. Manchester City have long been providing exposure to women’s football. Perhaps most topical though, just 18 months back the club merged the social media accounts under the ‘Same City, Same Passion’ campaign for non-gameday related content to boost the profile of their players and increase the awareness of the women’s side.
World Cup goal machine Ellen White was announced from Birmingham City prior to the tournament on the main account, which brought about a very positive reaction with the men’s transfer window yet to be opened. More to the point though, it is the reaction to City’s three most recent acquisitions’ announcements that have got under my skin.
When Manchester City announced the addition of right-back Matilda Fidalgo, who had just won the Primeira Liga with SC Braga and conceded just six goals all season, there were positive responses from genuine fans. But the top, and largely popular responses, were filled with some ‘football twitter’ accounts hiding behind a men’s player in their profile picture, with narrow-minded comments such as ‘that’s not Rodri’, ‘scared me that’, ‘use the women’s account ffs’, and so on.
We know it’s not Rodri. It’s not a men’s signing. But that doesn’t give you the right to reply in a snobby manner that completely undermines the new addition. The point of having a joint account on Twitter is to increase the profile of the women’s team, ultimately trying to increase the attendance at the Academy Stadium and their support, whether that be online or in person.
Manchester City fans are fantastic at backing the men’s players in person and on social media, now it’s clear that not as many fans seem to connect with the women’s team as they do with the men’s, hence the significantly lessened support. But even still, for those moaning about it or looking very immature for the purpose of a few likes, get behind them or avoid commenting at all.
Believe it or not, similar reactions occurred to the signings of tenacious midfielder Laura Coombs from Liverpool and cool, calm and collected defender Aoife Mannion from Birmingham City. Coombs will be a fantastic addition to the middle of the park and Mannion has been touted as Steph Houghton’s long-term successor, even if she’s set to play alongside her next season, by Birmingham City fan and women’s football writer Craig Hadley.
These are some elite level signings Manchester City are bringing in. Yet some ‘fans’ of the club can’t look past the fact they aren’t mega-money men’s signings and it is frustrating. Imagine if you are Fidalgo, Coombs or Mannion and you read the responses to the announcement of your signing, as they probably have, and the top responses are filled with ‘I thought this was Cancelo!’ or ‘I got excited then’. It is purely disrespectful and goes against everything this club stands for. The club is making their effort, so a section of the fans on social media, who make comments as such, should do so too.
Frankly, as the old adage goes: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.
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