“THERE used to be a football club over there,” said departing Tottenham Hotspur manager and newly-crowned UEFA cup winner, Keith Burkinshaw, as he left his job amid standard 1970-80s acrimony with his board of directors in May 1984.
It’s a thoroughly re-hashed quote and has entered the annals as a bona-fide timeless football aphorism. It’s a resort when an indulgent gripe and groan about the modern game is called for. Whether or not it was a fair observation at that time in the sport’s, and Tottenham’s, history others may debate, but it has always seemed prescient.
No apologies here to any Manchester City travellers who may have chanced upon this “preview” for what you are about to be reminded of. You aren’t a real football club. There. It’s so obvious that no-one says it anymore. How quickly they forget. You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when they bought you. They picked you out, moved your ground, turned you into something new.
The TV especially likes people to forget. “Here we are at the home of the mighty Manchester City.” What does that mean? Why are they mighty? Mighty implies something that has been built. Established. Something worthy. Something earned. Not granted, like a wish.
Manchester City were a real football club. A mad one. With fans going admirably nuts with season upon season of yo-yoing between adventures and rubbish managers. I always went to Maine Road. It was always an experience. I remember going to Maine Road in the 90s, and standing in the away end listening to their lot singing about the mercurial Georgi Kinkladze to the tune of Oasis’s Wonderwall. The refrain/lament that “after all….we’ve got Alan Ball” bringing the house down.
Maine Road. Scene of so many big Liverpool wins in the golden age and beyond. Maine Road, where they held big FA Cup semi-finals when FA Cup semi-finals were inherently big. Maine Road. In the heart of Moss Side. Then, sad, impoverished Moss Side. A Victorian inner city town(ship). Liverpool had it rough in the 1980s, and the likes of Toxteth and Kirkby were not happy places then, but I never saw anything as bleak or as beaten back as Moss Side.
In Liverpool you had a sense of people surviving and smiling and thriving, against the odds, in the face of adversity. There was craft and graft. Some of the folk of Moss Side looked like ghosts to me. It broke your heart.
The crowd at City were a bit wild. They’d chuck things at you. You expected it. It was usually because we were winning. When I got older and had a job I occasionally found myself encountering and working alongside lads from Manchester. They were always City fans. To a man. Maybe others have a different experience of that place, but my over-arching impression was that Manchester City were the team of the citizens of Manchester.
I always thought the City fans were funny fuckers. Witty, sharp, and cool. Piss-takers. Like the lads in Liverpool bands when they’re young. Moss Side was a grim place but it was also a brilliant place for a football club. Manchester City were clearly doing what the Northern football clubs (in particular) were invented to do. Providing respite to a community.
Now they take the football grounds away from the communties and put them in the countryside and build car parks around them. They perimeter them with business estates and industrial units. You can seem them from motorways and ring roads.
The Etihad is not the stadium of Manchester City of Moss Side. It is the arena in which a collection of soccer all-stars perform. The entity that calls itself Manchester City has only a tenous connection to the near-century old Moss Side-based Manchester team. The Etihad — aka The City of Manchester Stadium — barely feels as if it’s connected to Manchester itself in any way. It could literally be anywhere.
Maybe that’s enough. Maybe just the fun of following a team that will take you on its back to Madrid and Munich, rather than Port Vale and Middlesborough, is enough.
The money though. The money. Doesn’t it change the way you view your team? Doesn’t it make you wonder what the sporting contest is about?
I’d like Liverpool Football Club to have more money and to be winning more things. The amount more we would need though wouldn’t change the club forever. We’ve always been a massive club. Always been competing. But to go from clinging to the top division by your finger nails to being richer than Real Madrid?
That’s some crazy shit right there.
And it happened overnight. You probably haven’t ever had time to catch breath and to reflect. I don’t blame you. You’re having fun after all.
This isn’t sour grapes from a jealous rival. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a glory junkie. I’m in it for the points and the pots. I desperately want (need) Liverpool Football Club to be winning stuff. I’d sell chunks of my soul to see Lionel Messi in red at Anfield. But not all of it.
So let’s talk about this Saturday’s game. The team that calls itself Manchester City will host Liverpool Football Club in its arena in a giant car park next to a ring road. On a Saturday night. Under all those lights and with the cameras making it look like we all buy into this.
Manuel Pellegrini will be mulling over selection posers prompted by superstars returning from injury. Whether or not he gets Sergio Aguero or David Silva back (both have trained this week) doesn’t really seem to matter. They have so many players. They can pick any players.
Pellegrini must know that they could also pick any manager — and he could still win with these resources. Pellegrini could win his second title for the team known as Manchester City. It should make him a god. The football club called Manchester City should be building statues of the man that wins them the league twice. They won’t though. They’ll probably sack him if Pep Guardiola gets bored in Munich.
Liverpool have Jürgen Klopp. Liverpool have Klopp because despite the unsentimental march of modernisation, the club has retained a soul. The football club that Bill Shankly built still has a heartbeat.
It wanted Klopp because he had succeeded at a club, in Dortmund, that is the antithesis of what Manchester City has become. Klopp — we feel, we know — would not take the manager’s post at Manchester City. He wants to win, but win within context.
Victory without context is meaningless:
“We won 5-0.”
“That’s great, who did you play?”
“It doesn’t matter, 5-0 is just great, right?”
No of course it isn’t. Its always about the context. The context is the contest.
I will drink in Manchester before the game. It’s still a great town. I’ll go to that arena and cheer on my club. My club is still a great football club.
We’ll more than likely lose, but I think we won’t do it without a fight. I hope Jordon Ibe is fit and picked again. He’s fast and strong. He’s our future. I hope Daniel Sturridge is on the bench, if only as symbol of what we might yet become. I hope Dejan Lovren can continue his rehabilitation and keep us safe.
If by chance we beat this team that plays in an arena on a car park by a ring road it will be great. Really great.
But when the jumping and the punching of the air is over and calm falls again, I’ll wonder, as I did at Chelsea three weeks ago, just exactly who it is that we may have beaten.
What space in the game’s halls of relevance do they occupy? The team from where. Who do they represent? Who do they win for?
So think on Raheem, you spiteful ship-jumping traitor.
The team to give Sterling’s boys one helluva beating: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno; Lucas, Can, Milner; Coutinho, Ibe, Benteke.
Last match v Manchester City: March 1, 2015: Liverpool 2 Manchester City 1 (Premier League).
Odds: Manchester City 4-6, Draw 14-5, Liverpool 4-1.
Injured: Henderson (foot), Sakho (knee), Flanagan (knee), Gomez (knee), Ings (knee), Rossiter (hamstring).
Match details: Live on Sky Sports 1, kick-off 5.30pm.
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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
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Now 7 years later on you’ve got the world at your feet
Success has been so easy for you
But don’t forget it’s cash that put you where you are now
And it can put you back down too
I don’t blame Sterling for going though and it was good business all-round. He was the best player in a crap team, even though he was out of form. Our crowd turned on him, even though he was just a kid living in a strange town.
Another club offered him twice as much money and a real chance of team success. There was no decision for him to make.
When the Villa Park faithful boo Benteke, we’ll contemptuously roll our eyes and City fans will do the same this weekend.
We should look in our own glass and reflect how a player can outgrow our club at just 20 years of age.
‘We should look in our own glass and reflect how a player can outgrow our club at just 20 years of age.’
Nailed it. People in their primes going to Real or Barca is one thing, but a lad barely out of his teens moving up the road because he’s better than us is embarrassing and I hope everyone at Liverpool feels that embarrassment acutely.
He’s probably going to pull Skrtel and Lovren’s kecks down then tie them together. Is it Whacky Races where they’re trying to stop the pigeon? That… We’ll just end up booing him like the Evertonians we’re fastly becoming.
Lol. That was alright last night wannit?
Nothing like an ABC reference to brighten up the day.
Can’t wait for the game tomorrow, excited for every game at the moment.
I dont begrudge City their money either, their fans had it tough for a long time.
It was The Human League. And, yes, I feel old…
Great piece that, Manchester City no longer exist. They are now Abu Dhabi FC. A way for the Sheikhs to gain some respect on the world stage via their stable of sporting interests. maybe the media can focus on Formula 1 (the most sterile pointless race on the calendar) to a New York team, a Melbourne team and not on the poor bastards dying to construct world cup stadiums.
Qatar and the UAE are two different countries, but I suppose all Arabs are the same to you,
Outstanding piece! So much so that I overlooked the “excepted” in lieu of the correct “accepted”. :-) [“The crowd at City were a bit wild. They’d chuck things at you. You excepted it.”]
I also loved the proposed starting XI (Bogdan, Toure, Allen, [Teixeira or Brannagan?] Firmino, Lallana, Sturridge on the bench? Yes, please!)
Bravo, Mr. Gutmann!
It says expected, not excepted.
“Its always about the context. The context is the contest.”
This. This all day. Excellent, Rob.
Commentator: “And Sterling chooses the wrong option again.”
Vastly different emotions now that he’s wearing baby blue instead of pulsating angry red.
Excellent read, Rob.
the first part on City was real fact!!…:) and has a good laugh few times at 3am here on my own…
But I think Klopp will go with Firmino instead of Ibe…to stay tight in the centre. and pick the 2nd balls and knock ons from Big Ben. And Ibe to come in as impact sub…when we are leading 2~0 with 20 mins to go, and City chasing the game, for Ibe to explore the space…:)
one negative comment ~ wrong picture at he top. If it is still possible please replace it with Ibe….can you imagine how much a big lift that would give to the boy?…(to be the cover boy for this world renowned award winning TAW!!)
“Now they take the football grounds away from the communties and put them in the countryside and build car parks around them. They perimeter them with business estates and industrial units. You can seem them from motorways and ring roads.”
So true, and it kind of got me thinking about the modern football ground as another example of a non-place:
In an essay and book of the same title, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995), Marc Augé coined the phrase “non-place” to refer to anthropological spaces of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as “places”. Examples of a non-place would be a motorway, a hotel room, an airport or a supermarket
the *non-place, the ambivalent space that has none of the familiar attributes of place – for instance, it incites no sense of belonging;
This post is in response to the Citytalk preview more than this piece (great read Rob).
Why all the negativity?! For me, although we are playing against a top class side and could quite clearly not only get beat but take a hiding in the process, is the perfect game for a LFC Klopp side. And why? One word – gegenpressing!
I am astounded that while there was the odd mention of the need for aggression and one mention by the otherwise pessimistic Gareth Roberts of the word “press”, the whole essence of what Klopp brings seems to have been overlooked. I think this is because the last few games, including Chelsea away, we have been the superior team in possession and so there hasn’t been as much of a need for the gegenpress. In your discussion on Citytalk you seemed to warm to this theme towards the end, but i must admit i expected you to be all over it.
Enough of looking at how few players from LFC get in a combined side, and how many superior players the Mancs have. IMO the bigger factor is that this game is Klopp v Pelegrini and i for one am backing our man to come out on top! We are hopefully going to be all over them, targeting the likes ofg mangals, otamanedi, fernandiniho and Toure and then launching aggressively looking to strike the killer blow at every opportunity.,
That is the theory anyway, that is the heart speaking. If i am honest, the head is saying we take the lead and they prove too strong for us in the end… just. That said, just to cover all angles, i reckon 0-2 or 0-3 is a decent bit of value!
Up The Reds.
The rumour is neither Sturridge nor Benteke will start this evening.
Similar to the Chelsea match.
The 3 stars on their club crest mean nothing. Google it! That sums up clubs like Manc Shity and Chelsea.
It’s takes over 100 years (generations) to build international fan bases like LFC and MUFC. Can’t be purchased over night.
I actually hate Man City and their ‘Blackburn Rovers like’ fans more than MUFC and that’s saying something!
Oh and you know the way I was right about Rodgers going and Kloppo coming. ..?
LFC will make Jan swoop for Hazard
We were fucking great tonight. Hope you TAW boys have a great night out. Looking forward to Gareth’s beard on Monday.
I refrain from calling or questioning other clubs..”real” or “plastic”, as supporters of that club will just reply:
” Fuck off you are a burger franchise ”
A burger franchise with the best manager in Europe though…