Man City aren’t crooked, they’re just too clever…

Date published: Friday 17th May 2019 8:33

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City too smart
Sorry – Seb Stafford Bloor is badly wrong and is a perfect example of the football media groupthink that has infected coverage of Manchester City. The fact that so many of his peers think he’s nailed it only proves my point. However, here’s the news from outside the bubble….

Firstly, the song. I am more of a Blue Moon man myself, but if you can’t see the direct connection with the bus attack last year, you are being wilfully blind. This isn’t whataboutery. There is a direct personal link. The people in the video were put in serious personal danger 13 months ago when Liverpool fans acted like dickheads towards them. So are they surprised that some of them are not exactly feeling the Spirit of Shankly. And no, it’s not about Sean Cox or Hillsborough. Had it been, there would have been a different reaction for sure.

One of the exhausting things of the last few months (I enjoyed David Mooney’s piece) has been carrying the good wishes of so many non-City fans. When I ask why they want us (with all our money) to win and not Liverpool, the bus incident comes up endlessly. You just don’t do that – and it’s genuinely Trumpian, rather than the faux outrage City deal with. I really do think some people need to reflect on that.

Secondly, FFP. Again, I’m not a fan of the New York Times conspiracy theory. But Tariq Panja’s twitter feed gives the game away. If UEFA’s case is about “City’s sponsorship deals and bad faith” then no wonder the reaction from Khaldoon Mubarak and Simon Pearce is so brutal.

If it’s sponsorship deals, then it’s a circular argument as they are only market value anyway and to challenge them – as one of City’s two scathing statements points out – involves UEFA arguing that City’s auditors mis-stated their accounts. That’ll be a stretch. And then some more. It’s then down to where Etihad got the money to pay for a sponsorship that City could have secured at the same price from 123BetCasino or whatever. It’s at one remove from City and while UEFA could get on a plane to Abu Dhabi and ask them nicely, Etihad are totally within their rights to tell them to go and take a walk in the desert.

As for “bad faith”, that means “I don’t like you but I can’t think of anything specific you have done wrong.” It is a dreadfully weak argument. Good luck taking that into court against Sheikh Mansour’s extremely expensive and aggressive lawyers. If you want City brought to justice in the way you think they so richly deserve, I suggest you absolutely insist on holding fire until you have a mountain of hard evidence (post 2013 in almost all circumstances as well). Panja’s reporting suggests no such evidence exists. He could be wrong, and this could be bluff, but it seems highly doubtful.

If the Abu Dhabi crew are the bunch of crooks you think they are, there will be further and better opportunities down the line. Just wait for the inevitable smoking gun.

Or City could just have pushed the rules close to, but not over the edge. They could have a business model, the City Football Group, with costs and revenues, profits and losses booked, balance sheets loaded and then stripped, scattered across the world but controlled from Manchester that doesn’t defy FFP as much as side-step it. The real story is that the people running City are just too clever, too light on their feet, doing it differently. A bit like the players.

Or they are only breaking rules in the same way everyone else does. Or are they reimagining what a football club is and does, are employing the brightest and best and are outclassing the governing bodies just as they outclass teams on the pitch?

Anyway, I’m off to enjoy the Cup Final.
Mark Meadowcroft


The new Bendtner
I don’t watch too much Championship football, though if the cinematic playoff game between Derby and Leeds is anything to go by, I should.

There were some seriously good players on that pitch. Young, fast, dynamic, skilled and hungry to succeed/get noticed (something the completely naff matching haircuts undermined).

There was also a mentalist in Leeds ‘keeper Casilla. If you’re a Leeds defender, your heart isn’t in your mouth so much as writhing on the pitch 2m from you, spurting life juice everywhere. But at least he was entertaining in the ‘what the hell is happening now I never did but really should have seen that twist/calamity coming’ kind of way.

Then there was Patrick Bamford.

Where Casilla seemed to be wrestling with his own insanity, Patrick was completed wrapped up nice and warm in his own ego. I think he might be the result of a weird experiment where Draco Malfoy is crossed with Nicklas Bendtner. Bad, but not bad enough to be scary, just pantomime bad. Sad. And a rubbish footballer unless you asked him in which case… LEGEND (in his own underwear, as the schoolyard insult once went). He has the agility of a garden stake matched with the entitlement of a Kardashian. His malformed sense of justice saw him whine and moan and gesticulate at imaginary fouls. The demons of his failure were everywhere.

He is like the bloke from your office who was a good junior footballer but never had the physical characteristics to make it. So while there are a few cute touches of skill here and there that show what could have been, that stuff rarely penetrates the bitter exterior of never was.

Patrick, just go be the braggart middle manager at Dunder Mifflin that you’re destined to be.
Dr Oyvind, rooting for Derby. Earth


Leeds to Liverpool
Unlikely but Liverpool should buy Stuart Dallas in the summer. He could cover the entire left hand side of our team, wouldn’t cost much, and adds a goal threat from outside of the box.
Paul “Moneyball”, London red


United’s glass still half full
Samuel Pepys wrote, of a man marrying for the second time, that it was the triumph of hope over experience. I write this for the seemingly endless Utd fans writing in to F365 with evermore fanciful wish-lists for the coming summer.

I don’t know whether to admire their boundless optimism or scorn their apparent wish to deny reality. At what point in the last seven years has the current MUFC board made excellent recruitment decisions in their choice of manager? How many of the players bought in the same period have been outstanding? How many have been complete flops?

So, what, precisely, will be different this summer? Spoiler alert. Nowt. Patrice Evra called it right this week when he said that, in his opinion, Sanchez went to Old Trafford instead of the Etihad purely for the cash. And that, Utd fans, is the only way you’re going to attract ‘star’ talent in the coming months because it surely won’t be for the lure of winning silverware. Top 6 next season will be an ambition and not a given.

I have loved the schadenfreude of Utd turning itself into a complete dog’s dinner but, and I mean this genuinely, I’m now looking on with increasing disbelief as a behemoth of a club shuffles to the edge of a cliff. Just when you think they can’t f*ck it up anymore, they do. It’s not just the United players who need a ‘reality check’.
Mark (Is Patrick Bamford now a bigger sh*those than Sergio Ramos?). MCFC.


Rash reward
After another season of Rashford flattering to deceive, I was shocked to read the otherwise imperious Winty utter the words “But if the man wants over £200,000 a week, then surely just give the man over £200,000 a week”. It’s that kind of thinking that, to my mind, has got Man U into this hopeless (and hilarious) position in the first place. Rewarding a young player as if he were the next Mbappe, before he has even shown a vague glimpse of that level of sustained talent, is foolhardy in the extreme. There are surely 3 or 4 players of similar age in the EPL on way less than half that wage who are as promising as Marcus. Rewarding him now could send an awful message to him about the level of effort and performance required. It’s hardly like he has even a single sensible veteran teammate to guide him through either.
Mike, WHU


Pogba is United’s Sterling
It seems strange that to me that F365 named Paul Pogba in their list of players that Manchester United must ditch this summer, justifying it by saying as long as he remains at United he will continue to receive blind hatred. And this exactly is where the problem lies, I do not see much of a difference between the case of Pogba and Sterling and the kind of reaction they receive from the media. Admonished for spending his money, dancing around, branded as a player who couldn’t be arsed seems like a contradiction to his stats this season.
Most goals (though padded up by penalties), most assists, most distance run, most dribbles – clearly the best player we have. Which club ditches their most talented player and goes on to improve. Admittedly this has not been a great season for us, Pogba is not blameless in this but it can’t be easy playing at United when there are substandard players behind, around and in front you. He is an easy scapegoat – a target because he earns more? is flamboyant? his skin color? Alexis Sanchez has categorically been our worst signing in the past decade but he doesn’t receive half the outrage Pogba receives. There are enough spots in the squad that need to be filled in to start worrying about how we will bring in a player with the talent of Pogba.
That being said, he must now show he is committed to squad and definitely will have to step up the next season. If there are summer shenanigans, and throwing out his toys to force a move then he must be cut loose.
Our recruitment for next season is now of utmost importance. We must break free of the type of signings we would have gone for in the past 5 seasons. I do not think this is the right time to make a marquee signing or another star signing to attract more sponsors. We need to make smart, functional signings. Look at the talent in the championship (ala Daniel James), and try and pick out the diamonds in the rough from the relegated and lower teams (ala Liverpool). Our dressing room needs stabilization and a reset first before Ed blows his wad and chucks large amounts of cash at another star player.
Yash, MUFC


WTF, Woodward?
I am bemused. Lost even. What is the point of Ed Woodward?
He is supposed to be great at making the Glazers money, and that is not turnover but share value.
The share value depends on the performance on the pitch, as that drives the sponsors to want to be associated.
Stay with me here.
So the Mighty Ed gets a sponsor to pay £10m a year. He then brings in Sanchez, who costs £25m a year. So he needs another sponsor, to pay for a player who does nothing to improve the performance on the pitch.
Then he shows off what a big tough negotiator he is, and stalls on David De Gea’s contract over a measly couple of mill per annum. So he has to go and buy a new player for £75 million which uses up the kit sponsorship.
He is now letting the supporters worry about Rashford, who could well be a long time star, because of his contract, so needing to dish out around £100m to replace him.
The man is an idiot, he hasn’t a clue, even about the business side that everyone praises him for…


City’s song
Oh goodness..Gavin, MCFC, never let a good narrative get in the way of the truth.

Two terrorist attacks on buses and that gets compared to the bottles thrown at the City bus (definitely not good, but definitely different)? Also, hate to call absolute bollocks that the people inside the City bus were being told to get down as if their lives depended on it, the best view of that attack was posted by Raheem Sterling who took a video, not from the bus floor, but from his seat.

I find it utterly remarkable that City as a club and fan base have become obsessed with doubling down with increasing aggression. Their response to Der Spiegel was hilarious, “Hey! We’re busy cheating over here, you shouldn’t be trying to shine a spotlight on it!” But I didn’t think they would keep stepping up in their levels of brazen arrogance, “No we weren’t signing about Hillsborough or Sean Cox. Apologise? What for? We’re too busy denying homosexuals rights in our home country to bother!”

Ultimately nobody is really moral enough to make that latter argument. The fine folks at football365 seem to get some of their advertising revenue from football betting whilst all of us have probably inadvertently supported some dreadful regime or another at some stage but I just wish the City lot could get off their f**king holier than thou horses on this one perhaps. It’s fair enough if you want to hate Liverpool and their fans (join the club) but even most Man Utd fans have the class to recognise singing a song about the dead is pretty pathetic and vile. You’d just won the league, and might’ve assembled the best football team English football has ever seen; are you really such a pathetic club that you don’t have a song about your own team for them to sing?
Minty, LFC


…So, let me get this straight. Gavin’s justification for a group of Man City players making fun of a tragedies involving fans is second hand PTSD? These players come from multiple diverse backgrounds, some of them from war torn areas, and your argument is that because Marc Batra (who has no real connection to the club) and Adebayor (whom most players never played with) experienced something horrific a few years ago, and that caused city players to panic during their bus to anfield. And they remembered being that panicked, and channeled that anger to have a pop at fans who suffered real life threatening consequences? And that is context? Wow.

I mean, listen, i understand the tribalism that is ruling football (and the rest of the world). I understand why it is tempting to label an entire set of fans over the actions of a few. “Crying on the streets, the scousers won f*** all” etc etc. But these same scousers sing songs about being in a Mosque with their star player, they sing songs about Mo Salah when his daughter walks the ball into the net, the sing songs about Sadio Mane, Naby, etc. All of whom are Muslims, in a world that is increasingly islamophobic, anti-semitic and hateful. As a Muslim man living in Donald Trump’s America, I cannot explain how good it feels to have a sense of belonging to a group of people who respect and appreciate where you come from. It feels amazing when they chant for Mo at a pub in New York and I am there to witness it. It gives relief, and hope.

So, if you really want to paint an entire set of fans for the actions of a few, how about we chose the fans who bring smiles and calm to people suffering through different kinds of anxieties? How about we stop labeling people as “attackers” when clearly the intent is not to cause physical harm.

But, well, what do I, or anyone else knows.
Mahzi, NYC


…Gavin, MCFC: I can appreciate you are trying to get a point across about “that song” without ruffling feathers. And in fairness its great to see a man city fan have an opinion on the subject with resorting to Heyesl, Suarez’s racism, fountain pushing or victim insinuations in doing so. After everything i have read and heard in the last day or two you are rarity. Kudos.

Once again you have forgotten the biggest flaw in your argument. Much like the above mentioned and the incident with the bus all these things are BAD! Just because bad things happen to you does not mean it gives you the right to do bad things on others (even if its human nature hindsight can usually make up for this) but the clubs statement completely validates the words of the song and boarder line encourages its use. No one in their right mind expected anything to happen regarding the chant except an apology.

You, much like your club, fans and players fail to acknowledge that a simple “hands up” and “sorry about that” is all that was needed. Instead the Liverpool fan base is subjected to constant reminder of fatal tragedies involving the club and the usual “well you attacked the bus” excuse. Two wrongs don’t make a right i learned that at age five. Some things should transcend football allegiances and this is one of them. Perhaps i am over sensitive as i am a Irish man who supports an English club but the Sean Cox incident hit home as that could of easily of been me or one of my friends who travel over four or five times a year.

I get that fans get a free pass with these things and making these footballers out to be human is a lovely gesture but humans should have enough empathy to apologize when in the wrong, even if you didn’t know what you had done was wrong at the time.


…Fair enough to Gavin who took a diplomatic line while sharing his opinions about the City players and their singing on the plane. I don’t agree that the two coach-related-incidents you mentioned are relevant, but that’s the nature of opinions.

For me it’s City’s PR reaction that has been more disappointing. The players had just opened a massive pressure valve and got caught up singing a currently popular song with the fan base. A touch naive but most definitely understandable given the situation. It’s also very plausible that the context of parts of the song was lost on some of the players.

All that was needed was for the players themselves to put their hands up and say ‘yep, we got carried away in the moment, it was silly and with a better understanding of the wider context we see that now and regret it’. A donation for the Hillsborough Foundation or to Sean Cox’s fund and then the matter is closed. But the reaction of the club is truly childish and shows a lack of self esteem and empathy which shames the club. You only need look at the lack of comments from the players and coaches to see that City have gone into a PR scramble and shut down all reactions for fear of losing control of the narrative.

I hope to f*ck this doesn’t escalate to the point where City fans feel the need to double down, ultimately leading them to singing about the various tragedies as a way to bait and goad Liverpool fans. The roots of both clubs are born of working class values of decency and fundamental kindness which inform a shared sympathetic mentality. Unfortunately until now the City PR department have made a hash of it and its really up to them to find the amicable way forward.
Paul, LFC, Mönchengladbach.


Bielsa going nowhere
Aravind (Chelsea fan) – Bielsa “Believes in principles that center on connecting with supporters.” You really think that Bielsa would abandon his principles that you speak of to join Leeds’ (still) biggest rivals? He has unfinished business at Leeds and I highly doubt he would join another English club. We missed out this year but next year is our time and then we will be dicking all over Chelsea as we hopefully push on to Europe!
Martin (Bielsa-ball > Sarri-ball)


Recurring theme
What is F365s obsession with that 3 rats flag or banner thing? The site literally can’t write an article mentioning Chelsea without mentioning it.

First Daniel Storey incorrectly used the word fans (plural rather than singular) in his season winners on Monday followed by Matt Stead somehow managing to sneak it into an article about Man Utd today!

It’s been FOUR YEARS and it was ONE ridiculous fan with a felt tip on a banner. Seriously, get over it guys.
Lawrence, Leeds.


Friendly fire
So apparently Ruben Loftus Cheek has ruptured his Achilles’ tendon. Playing in a friendly In the USA. 2 weeks before the Europa League final against Arsenal. Someone in the Chelsea hierarchy needs to be shot for this. Honestly. It’s not like this match could have been played at any other point during the summer is it? Jesus Christ. Rant over.


Arsenal duped?
Firstly, he’s gone Stewie….you don’t need to keep writing about him we get it. You hate the man and to a point the club. We understand, we may not agree but we understand.

To address your question no we weren’t duped. Quite simply Spuds saw how we did, saw the project youth and socialistic pay we tried to implement and went ‘nah f that, didn’t really work did it?’ When we embarked on building the new stadium the main thing we are probably guilty of is timing. The Invincibles were being dismantled and the money in the game was ramping up something chronic and we had a fan base so accustomed to a certain type of football and winning tings that it created extra pressure to be relevant. Let’s be fair spuds have little to no recent history and so knew they had the fans patience. They built their team which would stay together for 5 or so years and brought in a manager who worked extremely well with not so shiny things. Essentially they got their house in order, understood the landscape and had a blueprint for what not to do.

If Arsene was to do it all again I’m sure he would benefit from hindsight (I know, I know he never did with his teams bit still) and certain mistakes wouldn’t happen again. I mean let’s be fair we got to a chumps league final a few months before the stadium opened not too dissimilar to spuds a few months after theirs opened so it’s not too different is it? Still, time to move on, time to forget about the old boy and stop trying to prove yourself right. Starting to wonder if the gentleman doth protest too much…….

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