SAFC vs Manchester City ‘Who are You?’: a saviour appears

who are you copy2


Soon after Salut! Sunderland
published its tale of woe, bemoaning the failure of our Man City “Who are You?” interviewee to come up with his promised answers, along came an old friend, Martin Haworth, a City fan based in the North east.

Look him up in the site’s search facility. Martin is a past WAY award-winner. He is very welcome back on these pages.

Here are his quick responses the small selection of questions we did publish:



Salut! Sunderland: Is there an easy explanation for City’s tendency to shoot self in foot, especially in Champions League games?

Martin:

It’s frustrating, as we seem to be being let down by simple mistakes. You may laugh at this, but I still think we have problem with our finishing. The game on Saturday against West Ham was a prime candidate. Aguero is not 100% at the moment, and there are too many other players who need multiple chances to score a goal. While you may get that in the Premier League, you don’t at Champions League level. I felt last week’s performance started slightly in awe of their opponents. Then they settled into it, and played the better.

They were defeated by two fantastic goals where the striker only needed half a chance and both went in off the post, perfect strikes and difficult for the keeper to stop. City also play the ball too slowly at that level. The top sides move it very quickly, and at times, City look ponderous by comparison. They will get there, but it takes time to learn. Having said all that, I’d prefer the Premier League all day, but I know the owners think otherwise.

Do you remember when Man City were likeable but unsuccessful and do you ever miss a) those days and b) Maine Road?

Does the question imply that we are no longer likeable now we have had some success? Yes there will always be those who resent what we have (and we are extremely grateful for it), but I still get the impression that people are ambivalent towards City and their success. Reading on another website from an Arsenal supporter commenting on the events of last weekend at Chelsea, he says “Why we prefer City over Chelsea, is that their manager isn’t a ****, their captain isn’t a **** and their striker isn’t a ****”. Though I would like to think we are a lot more likeable than them.

When City last won the title two seasons ago, so many non-City supporters came up and said how glad they were that City had won it, rather than Liverpool. Even United supporters were relieved. Or maybe we are the least worst option of the challengers that has some appeal to the neturals.

If it hadn’t been for Mike Ashley’s position of only wanting a joint investor rather than to sell the whole club to Sheik Mansour, when his people got in touch, it could be a very different world for both of us now. City were the fourth club they approached after Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle. It’s a fact I keep telling Mags I work with. It makes them go very quiet.

There were some great days in the old days, but I think we tend to look back with rose coloured glasses. Losing to Bury and Stockport, or winning at Bayern Munich? What do you think? I don’t miss going to Maine Road and I’ve grown to really like the Etihad and the surroundings. What has been put in place is fantastic, and we are really grateful for it. The Academy set-up is first rate, and there are some good players there.

That League Cup final was a fabulous day/weekend for Sunderland supporters, and a riproaring first half for us. There was even a great chance for us to make it 2-2 before you ran out fairly comfortable winners. But has the relatively minor nature of the trophy made such occasions – and tonight’s game – feel like just another day at the office?

This was a bit of an odd one for me. I felt utterly drained by the final whistle. I went with my Sunderland supporting wife, so one of us was always going to be upset. Sunderland started well, and I cringed when Borini scored. This has all the hallmarks of a repeat of the Wigan debacle in the Cup Final the previous season. City weren’t playing well, and couldn’t seem to get going. Sunderland’s tails were up and I could only see the game going one way. Pete Sixsmith said in his report at the time, that the tackle of Kompany (was it on Borini?) late in the first half, when a breakaway as on, was the turning point of the game. None of us in our end thought that. The mood at half-time was morose. Unless there was a huge turnaround it was Wigan all over again.

The Toure and Nasri goals stunned us. It was so unexpected, Toure’s especially. All this passing from side to side was getting us nowhere, then wallop. When the Nasri goal went in I felt almost guilty celebrating. I hugged my wife more out of compassion than celebration. Not because I thought we might win, I felt it was still all to play for, but what a tremendous kick in the guts it must have felt for Sunderland supporters to have led for so long, but then to have the game turned around as quickly as it had.

Sunderland made a really good go of it, and we were never comfortable. The Fletcher chance was probably the point I thought City could see this out. The Navas goal sealed it, but the 3-1 score was a greater margin than the game played. I remember the attitude of the Sunderland supporters being that they were there to have a day out, and barring that five minute period at the start of the second half, could well have ended in a perfect manner. The first time you go to Wembley for a long, long time is special, as I know how City fans felt in 2011 for the FA Cup Final. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to go back, it never loses it’s allure.

Any silverware is good, and while the teams in Europe tend to field inexperienced line ups in the League Cup, it does lose a little of the glamour. I never view it as another day at the office, whatever the game, I want my team to win. With our stuttering over the last couple of games, it will be interesting to see what the line up will be. I only hope it won’t be my wife hugging me in compassion.

Thanks, Martin.

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