MANCHESTER CITY proved they can turn it on when they need to, even if they have to go in at half-time two goals down to a team like Tottenham to get going. City were jeered off at half-time by the fans, which didn’t go down well with coach Pep Guardiola, who implied the home support might be becoming a little complacent. He was not impressed.
The Daily Mirror’s Andy Dunn, wasn’t singing from the same songsheet as Guardiola. “You are reading this correctly, they jeered Pep Guardiola. Home fans, that is. Home fans booed the genius. Our at least, booed Pep’s team, which us just as unforgivable.”
Guardiola said the fans were silent for 45 minutes, but they booed because they were losing, not because City were playing bad. He then went on to say that his team lacked guts, passion and a desire to win from minute one. “We’ve lost our fire,” he fumed, but they found it after half-time.
Guardiola should be familiar with the concept of supporters expressing their dissatisfaction; he is from Spain where they wave white hankerchiefs and let the teams know if they are not being entertained. If City’s players are complacent and the fans too used to winning, then what about Guardiola? His record over the past decade suggests he too is unused to failure and, by the way, he also does his share of moaning.
Fans are entitled to show displeasure, as long as it is civil and harmless. They pay a lot of money to watch their team so why not let the team know they feel they are being short-changed? Loyal support is one thing, but blind loyalty is foolhardy – the margins in the game are so narrow that it is precarious to put all your emotional chips on winning every game. Even Manchester City cannot win every game, and neither should they. The problem is, football is often a case of “you’re either with us, or against us”, the sort of devotion that has long since become unfashionable elsewhere. People should be encouraged to question the status quo, even if that has bought the club countless pieces of silverware. What other area of commercial life is complaining met with such indifference and occasional outrage? Have you ever noticed that when the fans behind a goal start to get angry, more hi-vis jackets suddenly appear?
Guardiola also has to appreciate that Manchester City’s modern day status means they have far more supporters than in the past and therefore many do not have the club ingrained in their DNA. Even when City won the league title in 1968, they averaged 37,000 at old Maine Road. Now they get 53,000 and there will be many “new” followers to accompany the legacy fans. In other words, there will be many fans who simply don’t know what it is like to support a mediocre, under-performing side. Every successful club will have fans who feel entitled.
Guardiola told Spanish newspaper AS: “When you have won a lot, you complain more, but in reality, you have to work. I want a reaction from everyone, our fans have to push us, ask us for more.” And yet, barracking and pleas like “Come on, City,” are meant to be motivational. What do they want, banners urging the players to “just do your best”?
Sources: Independent, Marca, AS, Guardian, Manchester Evening News, Daily Mirror.