Friday, December 30, 2011

WBA 0 City 0: Never has there been such finesse and nostalgia...

Yes, you're eyes are not deceiving you — it's a new post on Lesson In Pride, months after apparently giving up on the lucrative career of professional football blogging (and how can you possibly compete with the 'tatical' observations of one Duncan Jenkins?).

It may seem strange that with the many amazing events that City have been involved in over the past six months or so — qualification to the Champions League, winning the FA Cup, leading the top division at Christmas for the first time since 1929, and of course, the small matter of beating the Rags 1-6 at Vermin Towers — it's a turgid, frustrating draw away at the Hawthorns that has finally inspired me to get behind the keyboard. Okay, it's the culmination of a few things, but yes, that 0-0 is the catalyst for this post.

I haven't done mountains of research into this, and I am more than happy to stand corrected — but I'm convinced that fanzines and blogs are more active when the team is doing poorly than doing well.

Whether people can't be bothered to devote a lot of time and effort to something that will be read by a few hundred people (at best), or the ease of use of Twitter (people's attention spans can be maintained over 140 characters more often than over a whole post), or whether blogging is just not the done thing anymore — but it can't be a coincidence that so many quality Manchester City blogs (as well as this one) have fallen by the wayside over the past couple of seasons. A simple scroll down the fan-sites on will show a large percentage that now lie dormant.

Following City these days is a much different proposition than it once was. Not better, certainly not worse, but different. I know It certainly doesn't seem as fun as it once was. I suppose there's more pressure when you're expected to pick up three points every week, not just enough points to stay up for another season.

There's the constant questioning of your support — worse still if you're an overseas supporter with no trace of a Mancunian accent (keeping an old SeasonCard on your person is a good deterrent from accusations of bandwagon support).

There's the unrealistic expectations of some supporters (whether or not they have been supporters prior to 2008 is another question), who believe the sky is falling just because we've dropped points away to West Brom. Christ, in 2005 we would have been celebrating that solitary point well into January...

Conversely, there's the 'York Away' brigade, who debunk any criticism of the team and their performance with "we're in the top four, just think of where we were back in 1998 and be thankful". As generous as Sheikh Mansour is, I don't think he's spent the GDP of South America to languish in the lower divisions playing Huddersfield Town and Carlisle.

It may be difficult to explain, but the result at West Brom was a reassuring one. Typical City™ hadn't reared it's ugly head for a while, but there it was at the Hawthorns. The pangs of nostalgia I felt when we were chasing a decisive, game winning goal (which would of course never eventuate) were uncanny. As good as it is to win matches by four and five goals (and boy is it good), there's a different kind of emotion when searching for the one goal that you know will decide the match, and the anticipation that comes with it.

I'd like to think I fall somewhere in between the Chicken Littles and the Happy Clappers, and it concerns me that there seems to be these two distinct elements of our support. But I think the exact point where I thought "you know what, this isn't what I signed up for" was in the pub at 3am against Norwich, where a chorus of fans in this season's City kit (none of whom I had seen before) started a stomach-curdling chant of "Now you're gonna believe us/we're going to buy the league".

Gaining new supporters, or worse, bandwagon-jumpers is inevitable as we become a more successful football team and a better club. However, if the majority of our support can remain grounded whilst things are going well, yet level-headed and measured when things are not, then City will hopefully never be as plastic and soulless as that mob up the road.

Merry Topofthetablemas, and Happy Blue Year. Sorry for rambling. And here's to posting more often.