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BBC Radio Manchester Features

You are in: Manchester > BBC Radio Manchester > BBC Radio Manchester Features > 'Typical City'

Fans in Save Our Sven campaign

Save Our Sven: fans make their point

'Typical City'

Bewildered - "To confuse or befuddle, especially with numerous conflicting situations." Yep, that about sums it up. I can't think of a better way to summarise what is going on at my beloved Manchester City.

Do things become clearer when we analyse the game between City and Fulham (26 April 2008)?

Sven-Goran Eriksson [pic: Getty Images]

Sven: is he going? [pic: Getty Images]

The City owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, had invited 50 Thai MPs to Eastlands to enjoy the game with him, which would be followed by a lap of honour by the players. City lost 3-2, having led 2-0 and the supporters couldn't be bothered staying through a tedious aftermatch draw to win a car.

By the time the players re-emerged, most fans had gone. Mr Shinawatra must have been highly embarrassed and it seems that resulted in his meeting with Sven-Goran Eriksson becoming more about the departure of Sven rather than the original, planned, 'way forward' discussion.

Word soon spread that despite achieving target one of the three year plan and transforming City into "a team to be taken seriously" as one Arsenal fan put it on 5-Live's 606, 'Sven was a gonna'.

'Typical City' is an oft-used expression by the club's ever inventive, always humorous, fiercely loyal, and necessarily self-deprecating supporters. Club staff have been told never to use that expression and their PR team have worked hard to change City's image, with a fair amount of success, until the end of April, when that old expression found itself on everyone's lips.

There are lessons to be learned from the past too. Just over a decade ago City had five different managers in one season. Unsurprisingly, 12 months later (in a campaign which only featured two managers), the Blues were relegated to the third tier of English football.

It's bad enough, as a City fan, having 'the world's most famous club', Manchester United, as your neighbours and rivals, but Manchester City, sadly, have developed an image of shooting themselves in the foot.

A new dawn

Maybe the story of the season can end my bewilderment?

City of Manchester stadium at Sportcity

City of Manchester stadium

During the summer of 2007, after months of uncertainty, a new dawn was welcomed by the majority of City fans as Thaksin Shinawatra took over ownership and installed the highly respected Sven-Goran Eriksson, as manager.

Time was tight as Sven brought in eight new players to inject flair and goals into a team that would surely have been battlers against relegation during the 2007-2008 season, before the changes of ownership and management.

Shinawatra and Eriksson were one voice as they declared, "It's a three year project. Top half of the table during the first season, UEFA Cup qualifiation in year two and top four in the third."

Things started impressively with a hard-fought win against United and some wonderful free-flowing football, particularly against Newcastle in the autumn. But then the leaves slowly started to fall off.

The festive fixtures proved challenging, especially coming so soon after losing at home to Spurs in the Carling Cup, and slowly the Blues slipped from their top four spot. The "Typical City" tag started to peep over the parapet again when the Blues proved to be a bunch of balloons at Sheffield United.

Thaksin Shinawatra

Thaksin Shinawatra

More ominously City's Thai owner, having verbally supported Eriksson up to that point, started talking about his desire to return to England to, 'tighten the bolts', which the tabloids suggested meant Sven was under pressure.

With pressure building and hopes of European qualification slipping away, partly because of Spurs winning and the 'big four' failing to progress in the FA Cup, the rumours suggested an 'unofficial sounding out' of Phil Scolari, the man most experts believe was Thaksin's original first choice, had taken place.

Then came City v Fulham. 'Typical City' was back on the table. The vast majority of City fans were astounded by developments, defending Sven but stopping short of criticising the man alleged to have made the decision to sack Sven. Afterall, Thaksin has promised to pump millions into City, once his riches are freed up.


So where do City go from here? That hard-fought-for image boost, carefully nurtured by those who work hard behind the scenes, and so well represented by the ever dignified Sven Goran Eriksson, looks to have been destroyed.

I've been watching City home and away all my life and reported their activities on BBC Radio Manchester for the last decade, and I find it hard to express a cohesive view about the future of the club that has always been at the centre of my life. Thank goodness for the Academy and the skilful nurturing of the next generation of City youngsters, oh and thanks Sven for a very encouraging first season - even if it proves to be your only season at Eastlands.

I remember someone telling me, years ago, that an undergraduate at Leicester University had a done a dissertation on the performance of all the country's professional football clubs. He factored in the size of the city or town in which the club was based, average attendance, money spent on transfers etc and then looked at progress in cup competitions and final league positions.

His conclusions were that, averaged out over a 25 year period, 95% of clubs performed to the level befitting their criteria. There were two exceptions. Liverpool, who had over-performed, and Manchester City who were the great under-achievers.

If you're a City fan, that won't suprise you.

last updated: 12/05/2008 at 08:51
created: 09/05/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Alan Kirk
I Think its utter madness if what we're hearing from City is correct.How can somebody like Mr Shinawatra who has no experience in Football think he knows best when dealing with Eriksson who has been a winner and a European Champion.Its behond belief that with everything thats happened over the years with City and they're Managers,somebody comes in saying he's going to turn the club around, and then promptly carries on doing what the club has been doing wrong for decades.I now live in Guernsey,and so support from Afar,but even here the general feeling with football people is that City are still in the "Laughable" category when it comes down to descibing the antics of the Management of MY club who I have supported for 50 Years.I hope that the media have got it wrong and that sense will prevail and Sven will be there when we kick off the New season later in the year,although I'm not holding my breath!If he does go,all we need then is for "Frank to employ Allardyce and everbodies suspicions that he doesnt know what he's doing will be confirmed!! and he'll be wondering why Season Ticket sales are down.

clark austin
The blame of machester city final.We brings defender from Spain for they enjoy the life here? how we don't go to lose if the players specially the spanish Javier Garrido are the party four times a week, drinking, get drunk, this week the players go out four times the last sunday, tuesday all day and night, thursday and friday night, this is a professional attitude? this is for we pay? for the player come here and im living life, they don't care if lose or win a matchs they go out all week, so of course we lost with blame and this is not firts time this years, we have a drunk defence of course we lost, they don't have any control, Sven isn't a lider guide, the player can do anything,they have a green card, they train only two hours a day and party the rest, they are so younger, irresponsible, they don't have a lider, we need a change this summer, sell players like Garrido, I hope the coach sell this player and of course new trainer.

Barry Walsh
Sven should have been given another season,with money to spend,as any team that finishes in the premier league top 10,has had a good season.

brian longworth
We can debate this all day but the simple answer is it just does not make any sense at all. Decision making like this does not make a good future for City. Replacements reluctant to commit, who would blame them? Unsettled players, disgruntled fans and appalling treatment of a successful manager, tell me where the future is somebody. We start from square one yet again

marion nield
Swaping the manager is not the answer,give Sevan a fair crack at his job.Bring some ethics backinto the game instead of saving face and win at all cost attitude.Createvan attmospher that is so good that everyone will give of his best and not want to leave.

Sven is like his team, rubbish.City need a decent manager, Brian Horton for example.

Brian from Warrington
Ian Brightwell played for either 15 or 16 managers in his career at City. Lets hope some of todays youth players don't have to experience that. Well done Sven I certainly want you to stay

we now have one owner it is his club and no matter what the fans say or do it means nothing now , frank thinks sven has to go so sven will go another manager coming in whats new about that at city ?

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