Last season, we got one. It took a fabulous (for us) miss from Tevez and other wasteful City play to keep us in it, but Darren Bent’s last-gasp penalty brought us a massive win. Just imagine what a similar scoreline tomorrow would mean for morale at the Stadium of Light. It is a big, big ask but here’s to the immense performance needed to pull it off.
Time for another look at our Man City “Who are You?” volunteer (not least because it was first published before our epic series looking back at 2011 and we also need to look forward): 10 years after starting the Manchester City blog Bluemoon as a quick project for a web design course, Ric Turner* is still at it. He loves his club’s new-found success, idolises Balotelli though “perhaps not a great role model”, quite likes Sunderland again now Steve Bruce has gone and predicts a result to make my headline a pipe dream …
Salut! Sunderland: The Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City happened when I was living there but was announced while I was visiting the UK, having taken in SAFC 0 City 3 while here! Best thing to happen in the lives of City supporters?
The takeover has completely transformed the club, and we’re incredibly fortunate that the owner chose City, of all clubs, to invest in. City have essentially been rubbish for most of my life, so seeing us top the league, with players of the calibre of Silva and Aguero, is still taking some getting used to. I keep thinking the last three years have been a dream, and I’ll wake up in a cold sweat to a team comprising the likes of Bernardo Corradi and Emile Mpzena.
Is there not the least regret when you recall the days when you didn’t go into each game expecting to win?
In a word, no. Playing the role of the plucky underdog was getting a bit tiresome.
Do you feel football generally has welcomed what the Mansour m(b)illions have done to open up the top of the Premier, or do you sense resentment and envy?
I think some fans are glad the hegemony of the traditional top four has been broken, but most seem resentful of our new found wealth. It’s inevitable I suppose.
And what were your minimum and maximum expectations as the season began?
The minimum expectation was to finish in the top four, but realistically I expected us to make a serious challenge for the title and perhaps win a cup.
English football used to have the likes of Len Shackleton as characters (if there were “the likes of Shack”) and players like Colin Bell as role models. Balotelli is certainly a character, but what sort of role model?
Balotelli certainly polarises opinion, but I love him. I think he’s genuinely a bit mad, and perhaps not a great role model, but he makes a refreshing change from your usual bland top flight footballer.
Your personal highs and lows as a City supporter?
Winning the FA Cup last season was my own personal high, as prior to that we hadn’t won a single trophy of note in my lifetime (I was born the year after we won the League Cup in 76). The lowest point was undoubtedly relegation to the third division in 1998. If we hadn’t won the play off final that season I dread to think where we’d be now.
Who are the greatest players you have seen in City colours, or wish you’d seen, and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
David Silva is probably the most technically gifted player I’ve seen in a City shirt, but my personal favourites were Paul Lake and Georgi Kinkladze. Lake was an outstanding player, and would’ve gone on to become England captain, before a succession of cruel injuries took their toll. Kinkladze was mesmeric in his first season at the club, and lifted the crowd single handedly during some dark days. I would’ve loved to have seen Colin Bell in his prime. By all accounts the greatest player in City’s history.
Is the best thing about your new success being able to lord it over United (especially after than sensational win at Old Trafford) or just the success itself?
Having endured years of smug arrogance from United fans, it was immensely satisfying to beat them so comprehensively at their ground. We need to win trophies on a regular basis before we can start lording it over them though.
Do you miss Maine Road?
I loved Maine Road. It was where I’d grown up watching football, and it felt like a spiritual home. However, it was in a bit of a state towards the end and the opportunity to move to the City of Manchester stadium was too good to miss. I imagine a lot of Mackems felt the same way about leaving Roker Park.
Any good, bad, funny memories of past games between our clubs, home or away?
I vividly remember the last game of the season in 1991, when we won 3-2 to send you down. Sunderland brought thousands that day, one of the most vocal and impressive away followings I saw at Maine Road.
Any thoughts on Sunderland – club, fans, region?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Sunderland, and felt they were a few similarities between our clubs (large, loyal fan bases, a paucity of success recently etc). I must confess my loathing of Steve Bruce tempered this somewhat in recent years, but thankfully he’s gone now.
Name this season’s top four in order, and the bottom three.
I think the top four will be City, United, Spurs, Chelsea, in that order. Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn will go down.
The Barton Question: was the Eduardo Question, could have been the Larsson Question after one recent incident and may be about to have a run-out as the Osman Question. Those names cover feigning injury and diving (and, in the case of Osman, the more complex falling-over-and-claiming) but which form of cheating most annoys you and what would you do to stamp it out?
Diving is still the form of cheating which riles me the most. Phil Jones did a corker at Villa Park the other week, but it scarcely got mentioned presumably because of his nationality and who he plays for.
What one step should Man City or the football authorities take to improve the lot of ordinary supporters?
I think the German model (namely cheaper tickets, bigger attendances, and safe standing) is what we should aspire to.
Will you be at our game? What will the the score?
Family commitments mean I won’t be able to attend the game, but I predict a hard fought 2-1 victory for City.
* Ric Turner on Ric Turner: I’m a freelance web developer, and started Bluemoon back in 2002. I was after a career change, and had to build a site as part of my web design course. It was only meant to be online for a week or so for assessment, but nearly a decade down the line it’s still going. From a family of Blues, I first started watching City in the mid 80s around the time that Lake, White, Hinchliffe, Brightwell and Redmond were breaking through the ranks. Up until the takeover it was mostly one crushing disappointment after another, but hopefully good times are just around the corner.
Interview: Colin Randall