Watching Man City is like watching maths and that’s just soulless and boring

John Nicholson
Man City beat Wolves with ease
Man City beat Wolves with ease

I love football and have done for 55 years. I’ll watch any game at any level, much to the chagrin of my partner.

If it’s on TV or on the local recreation ground, I’ll watch it. I’ll even go to watch Dunoon Amateurs in mid-winter. I’ve seen Hibs v Livingston play out a draw in -3 degrees on a Wednesday night and I was sober.

But something odd has happened. As I watched Manchester City play Wolves I was just disinterested, which is worse than bored. I know I’m not alone in this. The City crowd just murmured like it was an end-of-season dead rubber. Jamie Carragher even commented that it was ‘flat’ and at the time they were 1-0 up. There was absolutely no jeopardy, and without jeopardy, football is nothing to the neutral.

Obviously their fans will not care that neutrals are bored by them and they’ll predictably and happily tell you so, but the Premier League will. Try selling the best league in the world when its winners are boring and all of its teams in Europe are beaten by clubs that have markedly less money and resources. I mean Real Madrid are financially dominant but are engaging in a way City never are. It makes no sense but it is a strong feeling. Sorry about that. Maybe I’m full of sh*t, maybe I’m saying an awkward truth.

👉 The ridiculous stats of Erling Haaland: More Premier League goals than starts and silly hat-trick numbers
👉 Man City star Haaland issues savage response to Keane’s ‘League Two player’ jibe

Because it reveals important truths, the most important of which is that we don’t, as neutrals, care how skilful the football is, we don’t care if we feel bored. The game felt non-competitive, like a pre-season friendly and yet it shouldn’t, given its significance in the title run in. This is not me just being ornery, loads of people feel likewise, to the point that it’s commonly accepted..

City are possibly the most boring title winning side ever. Sorry Arsenal, you know how it will go.

I saw the 1968 title-winning side. The difference was total. Not as brilliant but that made them more brilliant.

Or more accurately they’re the only side where this feeling of indifference has any traction. And by the sound of their own fans, or perhaps it’d be more accurate to call them an audience, they agree. It’s not the team’s fault. They’ve been assembled and trained so well, they just inevitably find a way to win. They are perhaps too good.

It’s best embodied by Erling Haaland who is as unexciting as getting a cheat code which leaves you feeling empty because you didn’t ‘earn’ the win. It’s extraordinary. Obviously he barely plays football, he’s just a function playing this successful redux of the game. I know he’s brilliant at what he does and wouldn’t want to be at all critical of how he plays. But it is like watching a dad dominating in a kids’ game.

You might think this is all crap. Perhaps it is, but I can’t help how I feel. No amount of swearing, ad hominem attacks and aggressive abuse changes how I feel. I might even suggest all the screaming ‘I don’t care, you’re stupid’ is a little too loud and long by a small minority. A little too ‘methinks the lady (or City fan) protests too much.

There have been lots of dominant sides down the years, so why is this side disengaging? I don’t know and can’t work it out. It’s a real phenomenon. I do appreciate their great football, but it doesn’t engage. Someone said they turn off every time they go a goal up. I understand that.

Obviously, it’s just a conspiracy against City, just listen to the rabid fans when you say they’re boring, dear me, you’d think what people feel is important to them. They say they’re not interested in your stupidity but spend so much time and effort being defensive with you, you could be forgiven for feeling more important and that’s not true. I don’t know about you but I don’t commit an ounce of emotion to what anyone thinks about Boro. Which is probably just as well. To think of being aggressively rude to anyone because of what they think about the club is nothing short of a waste of time and preposterous.

Guardiola can’t make it more interesting and at times he looks thoroughly bored. He is just doing his job really well, which is to win games and help sell the league to other territories. But imagine if City did not exist, how much more exciting the league would be without these ‘training games’ as Carragher called them.

The inevitability of their wins is what new fans from foreign countries, where predictability is valued and appreciated, love. That’s not here. Pity the poor commentator who has to work on their predictable games. They must be told not to say how boring it is, but you can hear it in their tones. If you want tension, go somewhere else.

I feel a bit guilty about my lack of interest. City are obviously brilliant. I’ve no interest in denying that. But I am just disinterested. I can’t help it. It might not be rational, but football isn’t, just listen to appalled fans objecting to the fact you don’t share their view. No one being rational would do so because a world where everyone agrees about football would be very boring, not to say very odd.

They’re 5-1 up now and you could hear a pin drop. It’s easy to say the football is great, therefore their games are great. But that would be a lie, albeit one that dare not speak its name in the Premier League’s ivory towers. They will doubtless point to satisfied fans but there’s more neutrals than City fans, and they need some edge to games.

Right now, there’s something remarkably non-breathtaking about them. It’s like maths v poetry. No one ever fell in love with a quadratic equation and no matter how brilliant or clever you say the equation is, it doesn’t express what is in your heart. You might not agree, but plenty do. Yes, it’s weird.

READ NEXT: VAR turn cannot be polished and should be flushed down the toilet