Is all that glitters necessarily gold?
There is a phrase often spouted amongst football fans that goes along the lines of “be careful what you wish for”. Normally it is around the change of manager or owner, and suggests that the future may not always be better than the present. If you had offered any Manchester City fan what they have now, twenty years ago when their club was in England’s third tier, they would have more than bitten your hand off. But are they in danger of having too much too quickly, and as a result could they be forgiven for secretly harking back to the old days?
The Manchester City Way
That may sound farfetched. Surely all football fans want their team to be as successful as possible? Yes, but it depends what the trade off is. Manchester City were always a law until themselves, and the trials and tribulations the fans had to go through following their beloved club were worn as a badge of honour. Back then, the Man City Way did not refer to slick, exciting, possession based football, but their ability to consistently get themselves into a position of moderate strength simply to surrender and throw it away. Once every other season would see them heavily tipped for relegation. Now those same people are tipping them to win practically every match.
So surely what City have now is 100 per cent better than that past, littered with frustrations and disappointment? Yes and No.
Moving of the goalposts
Expectations change faster than board room loyalties in football. Not that long ago, City fans starting a season in the EPL would have been hoping for Premier League safety first and foremost, and a good result against their hated rivals from the red half of their city. Anything else would have been an exciting bonus. Now, if they finish second in the league they will be disappointed, and only success in the Champions League would assuage that. And by success, I mean winning the whole thing, not “merely” reaching the last sixteen, eight four or even the final. Those expectations have shifted so quickly, and they will never be able to go back to the days of pre-investment.
Are Man City in danger of becoming what they hate the most?
There is another side to all of this success as well. Man City fans are renowned for their loyalty, for following their team up and down the country come what may. Doing that in England is challenging and expensive enough. When you are having to do that around Europe as well, it is tough for all but the most wealthiest of fan. In yet another downside of their current situation, they are inevitably attracting a fanbase outside of their traditional heartland and in doing so are in real danger of becoming a light blue version of the side down the road.