Pep Guardiola has already found a place in the hearts of Manchester City, but, don’t ruin the relationship by criticising attendances at the Etihad Stadium without knowing the full story.
Follow Manchester City’s dominant 4-0 win over Fulham in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Pep Guardiola diverted the attention away from the performance to how many fans were in attendance on a wet Sunday lunchtime.
During his post-match press conference, he said the following:
“Now we have three days to prepare (to play) against United. Hopefully our fans can come and make our stadium full.”
This was a valid observation from Pep Guardiola – there were 15,000 empty blue seats at the Etihad, however, these comments have attracted a lot of criticism from City fans including myself.
At the back end of what has been a very busy festive period for Manchester City fans with 10 matches in three competitions in the space of just over a month, it was very naive of Guardiola to start questioning the fans’ loyalty ahead of a Manchester Derby.
As a result of Manchester City’s success under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour, the fixture list every season has slowly piled up with the team consistently reaching the latter stages of cup competitions along with European commitments. However, the fanbase is struggling to keep up.
Unlike many of the ‘big’ teams in England, City’s fanbase is mostly made up of working-class Mancunians who have stuck by the club through thick and thin, but, with the rising price of season tickets and away fixtures, some are now being driven away from the club they once loved.
The more annoying issue for City fans, however, is that there is no need for the club to continually raise the price of season tickets along with charging extortionate rates for UEFA Champions League knockout matches.
With the club being backed by a wealthy owner, along with numerous global sponsorship deals and increasing matchday revenue, there is no need for tickets to be charged at the high prices.
The prime example which has made this issue rear its head is the price of tickets for the Round of 16 clash against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
The cheapest ticket for the regular match-going fan being £45 with the most expensive being £72.50.
City Xtra’s Joe Butterfield delves into this issue much deeper so give that a read, but, back to Pep.
A manager trying to jeer up the fanbase is great to see as it shows that he has a passion for the club, but, Guardiola will need to realise that not everyone is earning millions of pounds every year. The match going fans have jobs, families along with other commitments which means more often than not, they will have to miss the odd match or two.
At the time of writing, there were still a few tickets left for the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester United, but, no doubt the atmosphere was electric and was enough to see the Blues across the line and reach a third consecutive Carabao Cup final.
If Pep Guardiola wants to continue having the big attendances for the important games this season and beyond, think about the normal fan and the lengths they go to watch this talented star-studded team play.
Football without fans is nothing.
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