As Kevin De Bruyne stepped away from N’golo Kanté, stumbling slightly before kicking the ball out from under his feet and curling it into the bottom corner past Kepa on Saturday, I was filled with one overwhelming feeling - boredom.
Another week, another win. What’s the point?
Going into every game knowing that my team has a 90% chance of winning is just depressing. There’s no jeopardy. No peril. No overwhelming feeling that being 2-0 up against Aston Villa with 15 minutes to play will see my team conspire to somehow lose. Without that, what is football?
I personally want to see my team struggle. I want to go into every game knowing that there’s a 50/50 chance that our captain shoots us in the foot by getting himself a stupid red card in a massive game. After all, having 11 players on the pitch is far too predictable and dull.
There’s no drama in that!
I’m sure the players feel the same way. As some have rightly pointed out, players are finding this so painfully dull that they want to leave the club. Ferran Torres didn’t leave for the allure of Barcelona, he was simply desperate to get away from the utter monotony of being at a good team.
'Oh, gonna win the league again, are we?' Ferran Torres thought to himself in late November, 'Suppose I’d better start looking for a transfer then.'
Kevin De Bruyne’s celebration against Chelsea may well have looked like one of joy, as did those of his team mates, but I can assure you that he was actually dead inside. Another year where the league has been decided by January. Not since Liverpool in 2020 has there been such a foregone conclusion at such an early stage of the season.
‘What does this really mean at Manchester City? Where’s the soul or the emotion?’ Kevin thought to himself as Raheem Sterling hugged him, with Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo sliding towards him in front of 50,000 cheering City fans. ‘At least when Liverpool won the league, it meant more.’
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been truly happy since the 93:20 Aguero moment. Football and, in many respects, life peaked in that moment and it’s been a steady downward spiral ever since that day. Watching Manchester City now brings me nothing more than a tedious, hollow feeling.
When Gabriel Jesus scored that 94th minute winner against Southampton to take our 2017/18 points total to 100 points - a total some would call satisfying but I would personally call obnoxious, it was difficult not to sit there and think, ‘It’s good, but it’s not Aguero’s goal vs QPR.’
Needless to say, I did not celebrate Jesus's goal.
How can I ever celebrate anything ever again?
Meanwhile, down the road in the land of Salford, there’s some real passion going on there. That’s where the real joys of football are to be found. I envy Manchester United fans who get to read reports every other day about a new falling out amongst playing and coaching staff alike, as players are forced to go to Instagram to reject the assertion, made by their own manager, that they have refused to play for their club. Are any Hollywood producers watching this?!
There’s nothing quite like the intrigue of going 1-0 down to relegation-battling Newcastle within the first ten minutes of a match and knowing that you have to fight tooth-and-nail to scrape a 1-1 draw, being carved open time and time again by Newcastle’s midfield of Joelinton, Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff.
It’s football heritage, it truly is. They won the “proper” treble once, don’t you know?
Go a little further afield and you have Liverpool, where everything means more.
Rising tension is the greatest ally of any drama and there’s no greater example than the contract talks between Mo Salah, who is currently keeping Liverpool’s slight title hopes barely alive almost single-handedly, and the club.
Salah is asking for an amount of money which the club is unwilling to pay, which could well leave them in a situation where they’ll have to replace one of the top three attacking players in the world for a fraction of the price because of FSG’s tight pockets.
But where’s the satisfaction in using all of your possible resources to build a squad? I much prefer when my teams don’t embarrass themselves by spending £750 million on 14 or 15 world class players who can genuinely compete for the first team, ensuring that any injuries are adequately covered.
No, I’d much sooner my squad spent £600 million on a core of seven or eight players who are all absolutely integral to the team, so much so that an injury to just one of them sees my team incapable of even competing for the title, and then a further dozen or so players who are little more than adequate fluff who can fill in for maybe one or two games against mid-lower table opposition.
£35 million for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? Yes please, that’s the right way to do things!
Chelsea fans must be on cloud nine as their £100 million star signing over the summer has already given a high-profile interview where he says he totally regrets leaving Inter Milan and that, had he been offered the financial package he wanted originally, he’d never even have joined Chelsea to begin with.
Their star striker, and club record signing, going on record as saying that he’s not happy with the situation at the club or the manager’s use of him but that he will “be professional” as he unprofessionally takes to international media to beg his old club to buy him back, it’s the stuff of dreams. We all wish we were in their shoes.
What’s more is not knowing whether your manager will be sacked after a poor run of form. Sure, he won the Champions League not long ago, but that’s never stopped Roman before! Will Tuchel last the season? Will he be sacked by March? We just don’t know and that’s what fans want most - a constant feeling of instability as managers are chopped and changed on the whims of a man who isn’t even allowed into the country to watch the teams up close anymore.
And what do City have?
Nothing. Just winning.
The most boring aspect of football. Our manager doesn’t even argue with journalists in press conferences over slightly mundane questions. Come on, Pep, is it too much to ask you to just call a journalist an idiot because they suggest that anything can happen in football? Can you not spice things up just a little bit?
Instead, we’re all subjected to the torture of watching what feels like 11 robots kicking a ball around the pitch in a mechanical fashion. It’s machinery which is so fine-tuned and so often without flaw that it begins to make me feel numb to the sport. Nobody likes things that always work as intended. We notoriously bemoan the sheer relentless efficiency of commercial planes. Why don’t they occasionally just break down and kill everybody on board with greater regularity? Successful flight after successful flight is just pointless. Sure, planes are often filled with applause when we touch down at our destination runway, but we’re all secretly wishing something had gone wrong.
I see many people saying that the club doesn’t leave them with any emotional impact. They all don’t care when City win, and I know this because they tell us all weekly that they don’t care about it. If United won or Liverpool won, they’d feel something, but when it’s City who win they just shrug. Frankly, if rival fans are giving us weekly updates after every City victory that they don’t care that City are winning things, then I don’t see why I should care that City win things either.
I suppose this is just what I have to live with. I have to just accept that I support a football club which has people who genuinely know what they’re doing from top to bottom and so the odds of something going wrong are minimal. Will I ever truly be happy again?
I get glimpses of what real happiness looks like when I go to Boundary Park and watch Oldham, a team in utter freefall who are rock bottom of the footballing pyramid, bouncing from manager to manager with an incompetent owner who despises the fanbase.
I watch these fans who are seeing their club take one step closer to death week by week as relegation into Non-League and potential administration looms ever closer and I can’t help but feel they’re getting a better quality of life than I am.
At least they’re not bored. Not like me. I’m bored.
You might read another Week in the City article from me, if I can be bothered. It’s difficult to find the effort to write about my club, there’s not really much to discuss.
Just winning. Relentless, boring winning.
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