Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Waiting Paitently

What is it about the Manchester Derby?  It has always been huge in my mind but today it seems to have captured the imagination.  Even Fergie has got involved.  He says Giggs won’t play.  I’m fully expecting him to be on the pitch tonight.  It is all part of what this game has become.  I can’t wait.  I remember my first derby match – at Maine Road...Manchester City reserves vs Manchester United reserves.  Age 4.  I was under strict instructions – every time the reds touch the ball you boo.  It was quite a simple formula and one that 21 years later I will be sticking to rigidly tonight.  Why has the derby become so big though?  In my mind it is for the 2 following reasons -
1.       Carlos Tevez isn’t the first player to move across the City (or more strictly in to the City from the suburbs) but the difference this time is that when they sold us Terry Cooke it had no impact on them.  They light heartedly joked that the reason we had been promoted from Division Two was because they had sold us one of their reserves.  Fair enough – Cooke was never good enough to play Premiership football.  But Tevez is more than good enough and how they wish they had him in their side tonight instead of Chickytootoo or whatever his name his.  I used to hate Tevez and the way he chased every lost cause.  Now I love it and they hate it.  And I love that even more!

2.       Jealousy.  My United loving mates laughed at me in the summer when I suggested that they were jealous of the situation at City.  But they are...they actually are.  There is no coincidence that as we rocked the boat (slowly admittedly) last season the anti-Glazer movement kicked in to first gear.  They hate the fact we have so much money and they have none.  They can sing 34 years and will probably sing 35 years but they know that this is happening – our time will come.
See you tomorrow.  Or maybe not.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Forget about the money that these players earn, forget about the foreign owners, forget about the huge gap between the average footballer and the average working man.  The root of the problems within English football are much closer to home.  This point has been undoubtedly proven today with the ridiculous contrast between the treatment of Mario Balotelli and Tom Huddlestone.
When I sit and listen to the likes of Alan Green and similar talk show hosts complain about transfer fees, excessive wages and inflated egos it really makes me smile.  Green is of course an easy target – he is on the biggest Sports National Radio station and has a live phone in show every week – and this is not intended as a personal attack on his character...God forbid such a thing...he would probably hang up on me.  As football fans we hailed the arrival of Sky Sports and their millions.  I stood on the Kippax and watched the first live game being beamed to millions live from Maine Road.  These were exciting times and in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, the behaviour of English fans in Europe and the national sides failure at Euro ’92 our game needed a lift and Sky TV provided it.  Without Sky TV and without the money they have provided we wouldn’t have seen the likes of Bergkamp or Henry flourish in our league.  That investment was vital and we all rode the crest of the wave.  Green included.  He has however suddenly changed his tact.  He claims to now hate the state of the English game and moans that Manchester City are ruining English football by overpaying players and just throwing money at the game.  He has a point – I can’t understand Yaya Toure reportedly earning in excess of £200k per week.  It takes the average family nearly 10 years to earn that.  It is obscene.  Undoubtedly.  But Yaya isn’t the reason that England failed miserably at the World Cup and he isn’t the reason Portsmouth nearly went bust.  The reason for those failures is the terrible state of our Football Association and until we face up to that we are never going to move forward.  At a time where money is tight for pretty much every club except for my own we need a strong FA to guide us through the troubled times.
Yet what we have is seemingly a rudderless ship.  At the Hawthorns on Sunday I stood and called the Balotelli fiasco as a red card.  The bloke is clearly a bit bonkers.  He deserved to be sent off.  Straight red, two yellows, who cares?  The appeal could easily have seen the ban being extended.  My point is not that the FA didn’t rescind Balotelli’s red card – it is that they chose to completely ignore the Tom Huddleston offence a day earlier.  Why?  One explanation is Harry Redknapp – the saviour of English football.  He buys the same players wherever he goes and is seen as a genius.  This time last year he had Bale available for loan.  He only played him because he had no other choice midway through last season and suddenly he has uncovered a gem.  Quite frankly that is complete rubbish.  He threatened the FA last week with a media ban and the FA has responded by not banning Huddlestone.  It is a farce.  The evidence is there for all to see – he stamped on Elmander.  How can they not have banned him? 
When incidents such as this occur I wonder where the game goes from here.  The problems are not caused purely by money – they are caused by the corrupt nature of the bodies running our game.  Let’s face it – they are the ones that have let Sky monopolise the TV coverage, they let Shinawatra take over City, they stood by and watched Pompey almost collapse, they have let the Glazers cause total havoc and stood by with the joke of a situation that developed last month at Liverpool.  When are people going to stand up and take a stance against the real problem infecting our game?