Manchester City Football Club has always suffered in the shadows of Manchester United. That is not me being biased as a United fan, that is fact. Apart from brief periods in the clubs histories, United have always been the more successful of clubs. Years of success bring with it years of history, and with the history came global recognition. This is something City could only dream of. As United lifted the treble in 1999 with the fantastic night in Barcelona, City fans were celebrating escaping the third tier of English football via the playoffs. This is how it had always been, and seemingly, how it would continue.
Then in the summer of 2008, everything changed. City were taken over by a multi-billionaire oil Sheikh and a ‘Abramovich’ style transfer spree commenced. City fans rejoiced as their team went from Premiership no-hopers to expectant title contenders. It was only a matter of time before they lifted their first trophy in 34 years. With this new sense of grandeur, you would expect the club to break free from the shadow of their city rivals, and adopt a winners attitude. However, all we have seen so far is a club suffering from what some people call ‘small man syndrome’.
Let me elaborate. When Carlos Tevez signed for City after his two seasons at United, City thought it was appropriate to brandish the infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ poster in the city centre for all to see. The poster might as well of had ‘ner-ne-ner-ne-ner ner!’ on the bottom with a kid sticking his tongue out. The poster has since been branded as unprofessional and caused SAF to refer to City as ‘our noisy neighbours’. If the poster was done to provoke United, it failed, much like City’s season. As the months rolled on, the outlandish acts continued. One city fan got a tattoo celebrating City winning the champions league, despite the fact they have never entered the competition. Others lauded the arrival of Kaka, only for him to sign with Real Madrid. Instead City bought mercenary after mercenary, chasing the dreams of enough cash to set them up for life. More recently, City were linked with our own Wayne Rooney, as he requested to leave in the midst of contract negotiations. Over 200 ‘Rooney’ shirts were sold from the City club shop. Oh dear, that didn’t pan out well for our blue friends. Their latest stunt comes today, with the grand opening of their club shop on Market St in the centre of Manchester. The stage out front and the dancers rehearsing suggest a ‘Willy Wonker’ style extravaganza. Not bad for the opening of a shop.
All this leads to my original point, City’s inferiority complex when compared to the red side of Manchester. The longer the club goes on without any real success, without any real silverware, the louder and more extravagant their stunts will become. The need to show the world they are no longer the lowly Manchester City, struggling in the background, will force City to flex their muscles with every little thing they do. For a football fan looking at the history of the clubs, the success and the passion, there is simply no comparison between the two. The same goes for the players that City have signed. They haven’t really signed that world-class player they have been chasing. Why would a Messi or Ronaldo want to play for a club that would sign Yaya Toure to a £200k+ a week contract when he was struggling to get into the Barcelona team? Truly world-class players are not in the game solely for the money, they would rather be winning trophies. Until City realise that they need to change their approach to buying players, to financing transfers, to how they conduct themselves off the pitch, they will always be the noisiest of noisy neighbours.