You might not like Man City, but these neutrals are enjoying the football

·15-min read
 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

After the anger of the morning Mailbox comes the neutrals who say that Manchester City are brilliant to watch under Pep.

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City bottlers?
If City don’t win the treble, have they “bottled it”?
Simon, Norf London Gooner
P.S. As that famous Bible verse goes: “All things are possible through Abu Dhabi who strengthens me”.


Credit where it’s due…that was exceptional football
I leave the debates around the fairness and ethics of how ManC assembled their squad to fellow mailbox writers, but that is a special squad under a special coach.

The football yesterday from them was exceptional to blow Madrid out of the park. Chelsea, Man Utd and PSG (at least in their European ambitions) have shown over the years that only throwing money isn’t a guarantee to success. He may have been given all the fancy legos but Guardiola sure knows how to create masterpieces with them.

There is no such thing as clean money funding any sporting team in my opinion (some is dirtier than others sure) – but I will enjoy the silver lining in the dark cloud of state/oil money that allows exceptional players at the peak of their game to come together and create that kind of football.

I’m a United fan and tuned in to see City get knocked out of the Champions League (again !) but that football was a joy to watch. I think a part of that was because it wasn’t ManC taking apart a club with 10% of their spending power but making an equally good Madrid side look pedestrian.

Would love to see a more fairer competition, but till then give me more such matches please.
Akshay V (Wondering whether United or Inter can stop the treble now)

READ: 16 Conclusions as Manchester City book their UCL final tickets for Istanbul


…At the risk of upsetting the tribal masses, I just wanted to voice that some of us are enjoying this City side.

I was brought up a Liverpool fan from 30+ years ago, and was as desperate as any Red to see Liverpool finally win the league. I also wanted to see ‘my’ team dominate as any fan does, and City have certainly taken away what could have been a great period of domination for Liverpool. I state this simply to set the scene that I come at this from a partisan perspective, and therefore according to the current zeitgeist should be vehemently anti-City.

However, through years of effort and growth (in no small part becoming a father and not wanting my children to grow up letting the fortunes of their team negatively impact their mental wellbeing), I have managed to shed the tribal football fan mindset (I genuinely cringe when I now hear someone refer to their team as ‘we’ – something I used to be very guilty of), and I approach football with one goal; enjoyment. Entertainment provided by the very best at it. City provide exactly this.

I have taught my son that if Liverpool concede, we doff our caps to the scorer and if it was a great goal, we declare as such. At the end of the game we will say ‘that was a shame’ or ‘what a great game that was’ or any number of things that let us summarise it and get on with our day.

Currently, we get a lot of joy from watching Haaland and co. My son claims Liverpool as his team, but (second only to Bobby Firmino) loves Haaland – what a great attitude. Why would I want to ruin his innocence by teaching him that; “actually, if you were a real supporter, you would hate Haaland as he doesn’t wear the right colour top” – this is all that is wrong with the world!

So I don’t really care how they got there (sure I care about the human rights side of it, but let’s be honest, that is usually only brought up by fans of opposing teams envious of the money), I am just glad that we get to watch the best football ever on display. And yes, I mean that, football is progressive and place any of the 1970s Brasil team on a Premier League pitch today and they’d be the worst on there, this is not a case of recency bias.

One thing I think you need to ask yourselves; Is this any worse than when Man United used the Sky money to completely dominate English football with the best manager and the best players? Attracting whomever they wished based on the allure, prestige, but importantly also fees and wages that others couldn’t afford? No, it’s exactly the same. Whether by fair means or foul, City have one of the very best managers to ever live, and by far one of the very best squads. We all laud the classic Madrid, Barca, Juve, Bayern squads – were these constructed on a budget with purely local players? Don’t be silly.

Envy is not healthy – enjoy the football, local or not, I guarantee the players and teams you love don’t waste a single second thinking about you.
Dom (if you didn’t contribute – and I don’t count singing or buying a shirt – can you really say we? We should purely indicate the team for which you personally play) Littleford


…I don’t like it. You might not like it. But this Man City team is the best team the Premier League has even seen. They don’t need to win the Champions League to prove that. They don’t need to win the treble. If by “the best” you mean who would win in a game of football could the two teams play each other, this City team is the best. If you think the United ’99 or the invincibles are better you’re either biased or suffering from a nostalgia based delusion. It wouldn’t even be close. The treble side of 99 wouldn’t lay a glove on this City team. They would barely get the ball.

They may have the most money, they may have cheated the system, they may have flagrantly breached the financial rules of football, but on a purely sporting level they have no equals. I don’t like them, but I can admit it. Still, come on Inter, eh?
Mike, LFC, London


…United fan here,

City are a truly remarkable side and I thoroughly enjoyed their spanking of Madrid. For all the bitter fans of rival clubs I truly wonder how you could not enjoy such a game, City have never won the Champions League before and no English club has been as close to matching the achievement of 1999 so how can it be cheating if this type of domination is so rare? Have PSG dominated the Champions League with infinite money? Exactly.

What they’ve achieved this season is already amazing, they’ve rewritten history by beating Arsenal to the league, probably United to the FA Cup and possibly making their Istanbul night even more legendary than Liverpool’s. My concern is if they match the treble by beating United it would be painfully poetic.

If United were able to prevent City from being treble winners themselves then I would find that hilarious, but I think anything other than a battering of both United and Inter in the finals is highly unlikely.


…In the aftermath of Real Madrid’s team receiving the ‘shock and awe’ treatment, I read what seems a ridiculous comment ‘this is one of the poorest Madrid sides I’ve ever seen.’ This is so far from the truth , every player is absolutely elite and the manager too . That they were played off the park is down to City’s extremely excellent footballing ability.

After such a mullering it’s normal to spout stuff about getting too old or the manager has lost his mojo . But what happened here is the best team beat probably the second best team in the world with a great overall display and brilliant coaching.

If City didn’t exist this season, Madrid would be the perfectly oiled machine. Only Liverpool can touch these two , with far less money and wages . Every other team,these days, is quite some ways behind. The bar is set so high . And in European competition Madrid were way worse throughout the 70s , 80’s and 90’s .

Finally , City are miles more likeable that Abramovich’s Chelsea . Let’s see if they can do what Ajax then Bayern Munich did – conquering Europe for three years on the trot.
Peter ( enjoying my day very much thanks), Andalucia


Is this the worst of all seasons?
This season could possibly be the worst on record. Firstly we had the World Cup built upon the bodies of a few thousand modern-day slaves proving how corrupt the sports governing bodies are. It was made worse by the fact Argentina triumphed so the media had their collective orgasm that their have been building up for a decade and half over Lionel ‘professional Saudi Arabia stooge’ Messi winning the thing. They will now scream for all time that he is “the greatest player ever” even after the world ends.

Now after Man City’s drubbing of Real we have the prospect of the media getting the other thing they have been waiting over a decade to cream themselves over, the ‘God’ of all managers (according to the media not everybody else) Pep Guardiola winning another Champions League title.

They will ignore the fact even Sam Allardyce could have won two CL titles with the squad he had at Barca, a better manager like Ancelotti probably would have won three in a row. They will also ignore the success is built upon corruption by an oil rich dictator who thinks the rules are toilet paper to his PR vehicle…sorry I mean team.

Finally they will also ignore Pep is an arrogant, joyless man who seems to gain no pleasure from the game, coaches his teams to cheat like no one has ever cheated before, will only join the richest club in a league and is king of the sore losers. I will give him some credit for his comments about Kyle Walker, we have all been saying it for years, very fast but a bit shit and dumb as a box of rocks otherwise. That aside Pep is a pretty toxic character but nobody in the media will ever point it out.

The football media do not deserve to get these triumphs nor anything else they want. Even before we to get to the whole taking Qatar money while pretending to be critical of the regime thing, they are all a bunch of Gary Linekers who are more interested in virtue signalling about ‘the current thing’ than actually reporting football scores. Most outlets seem to think fans want to hear about the ‘racism of the day’ or Covid propaganda more than what is going on with their team. Believe us we really do not.

Messi and Guardiola do not deserve to get what they want either as they are both apologists for two of the world’s most evil regimes as why have principles when there is money to be made. They are clearly both not very good people and it should overshadow whatever talents they may have as it is not like they are doing something important like curing cancer.

To put it bluntly the most famous and powerful people in football are terrible. They are either despots or on the payroll of them. This needs to end sooner rather than later.

Even if City lose the CL final this season it will just be a treat in an otherwise terrible season where football finally lost whatever remained of its soul. The fans deserve better than this from everybody involved in football but I doubt we will ever get it. Just like everything else, football is well and truly f*cked.
William, Leicester


…The theory is if you give infinite monkeys infinite typewriters they will eventually replicate Shakespeare. It’s when, not if. If you give infinite money to infinite FFP breaches you will replicate the greatest success in football. It’s not if, it’s when.

This season isn’t Shakespearean, just a lesson in the application of brute-force statistics.
Wayne, Manchester


The Cruyff turn
While you’re busy kissing up to him, it’s worth noting that Pep’s mentor, the late and (actually) great and actual football genius Johann Cruff, would despise everything about what Pep now represents- club & corporate greed and corruption. Can’t win Europe without Messi? Buy it, then. Great work, everybody.
Scott, LFC, Toronto


Lance again
It’s a sad day indeed for football when English pundits are falling over themselves to congratulate Lance Armstrong for doping themselves to the UEFA Champions League final.
Melvoe Adams


…City is not a Club that is being compared to Lance Armstrong unfairly because it is “spending” the same as the giants of the game and doing better. The doping analogy would sit better if you compared City to your uncle Keith who cycles with his mates at the weekend. That one in full lycra who does it to get out of the house.

Imagine Keith is a decent hobby cyclist, sometime he gets a pb, and sometimes he finds himself in League 2. Now imagine after a couple of years of not speaking you hear Keith wins the Tour de France 5 times out of the last 6 years. Would you think he has been doping or blindly think he had found some form… That’s the doping, City was never in the same bracket as Utd, Liverpool, or Arsenal. They were with Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry, and Bristol Rovers.
Darren (Immigrant in Barcelona)


…In response to all the replies to my letter, you’ve all missed the point. I’m not defending City if they have broken FFP rules. City should have adhered to the rules, as much as they are uncompetitive and restrictive.

What I’m saying is that the comparison with Armstrong doesn’t work. Using banned performance enhancing drugs to be the best isn’t analogous with spending similar amounts of money as other clubs. Also most of cycling at that time were on drugs. Armstrong was just the best at doping and had the best juice.

Or is that what they meant? All of football is financially doping and City are the best at it? Maybe it does work after all….

Anyway I had a great time at the Etihad last night watching City outclass Real Madrid. I felt like they atoned for the many silly ways we have been eliminated previously in the Champions League KO stages, especially last season against the same side.

What a game. Just hope we play as well in the final.
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC


Modern life is rubbish
I don’t need to write about why City’s achievements are nothing but a joyless void. Other mailboxers have already done so and all football fans – even City fans, if they’re being honest to themselves in the mirror in the dark of midnight – know it to be true. Yay! You won the treble on Footie Manager with the in-game editor enabled. Good for you.

What I’m really here to grumble about is the news that Chelsea are poised to acquire a stake in Strasbourg, having narrowly failed to do so in Bordeaux. Bordeaux! The club of Tresor, Lizarazu, Battiston, Zidane, Giresse, and Tigana… It turns the stomach.

Call me naive, but how the salted f**k is the ‘multiclub’ system countenanced at all? It’s conceptually and functionally grotesque.

I’m pissing into the wind because not only is it here to stay, but Ceferin and Uefa have hinted that their on the cusp of ‘relaxing’ the rules even further. Any more relaxed, and I fear the last ounce of sporting integrity left to the game might plummet out their arse.
Ben, London


All hail Coventry City
Ooh we are spoiled when it comes to the Championship play-off final.

Coventry are another club who have been on a rollercoaster since their relegation from the top flight amid all the issues with the Ricoh.

This is going to be an old school classic – Luton who beat an Arsenal team to the 1988 league cup who would win the title the following season and Coventry who beat a brilliant Spurs team in the 1987 FA Cup final.

Oh for those halcyon days when you had no idea who knew who was going to win everything.
Graham Simons, Gooner, (Forza Nerazzurri), Norf London


…I know the Man City juggernaut took most of the headlines but save some space for Coventry City.

I’m not a fan but have a special place for the sky blues as the 1987 FA cup final was one of the first I can remember, one of Clive Allen’s 49 goals, a Gary Mabbutt goal, a Gary Mabbutt own goal, Dave Bennett to Keith Houchen for a cracker of a diving header- what a final! A nod also to Brian Kilcline for that hair, and that moustache too.

And now the Championship play-off final…Coventry City V Luton Town- I’m looking forward to that much more than City V Inter.

Go on the Sky Blues…or Luton too as that’s another cracking tale.

Football, bloody hell.
Nicky, Rochester

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