I decided to support Manchester City on a summer’s weekend in 1989. City had just beaten Man. Utd 5-1. A couple of Irish players, including Niall Quinn, were on their books. Paul Lake had cool hair, or so the 7 year old me thought. Also, I really liked the shirt colour.
In the intervening almost twenty years I have seen many great moments. Most of them involved Niall Quinn. Like the time Niall Quinn scored against Derby County and then replaced Tony Coton in goal when he was sent off only to immediately save a penalty from Dean Saunders. Or the time Niall Quinn ended a historic run of defeats by picking the ball up at the half way line, turning around two midfielders before placing a perfect 35 yard pass into Uwe Rosler to score.
Niall Quinn was the definitive Man City player. He was big and clumsy and usually scored with his shoulder, or his right buttock but sometimes he would just stun you with a moment of impeccable style. Plus he worked really hard and that usually made up for his not being as good as everyone else.
I loved Manchester City even more in the face of their epic failures. Their relegations to Division 2. Their last minute failures to beat Manchester United. Their brief but glamourous hey-day led by none other than a diminutive Georgian.
The news that a bunch of oil-rich Arab dictators have taken over Man City and made it into the wealthiest soccer organisation in the world is therefore mildly unsettling. Ethics be damned. I didn’t care that Thaskin Shinawatra, the last owner, was guilty of “human rights abuses of the worst kind” while Prime-Minister of Thailand and that his UKÃ‚Â£800 million fortune seems to have been garnered in a less than above-board fashion. If Man City needed to be re-named Human Rights FC, then all well and good. As long as we beat United regularly enough.
Bidding for Ronaldo and Berbatov is very amusing but surely these boys will scarper just as soon as their little plaything doesn’t deliver? I feel used. And I have never even been to Eastlands yet. Middle-Eastlands as they intend to rename it.
I will be convinced if they manage to lure Alan Kernaghan out of retirement to nail down the defence and little Terry Phelan running quickly for no apparent reason down the left hand side. Failing that, I’ll always long for the days when all we had to get excited over was a new floodlight upgrade.
Your Correspondent, After all, we got Alan Ball