It’s a phrase that has been long adopted by the Blues’ faithful and it describes perfectly the club that they unwittingly chose – yet loyally follow (it’s all Dad’s fault). Fans from other clubs mock City’s apparent “lack of history”, typified by United fans’ jeers on the 28th February 2011 – the 35th anniversary of City’s last major trophy (the League Cup in 1976). Indeed some dare suggest that City have no history, a false allegation – if you know of any other club that were the only reigning English champions to be relegated (in the 1938-39 season), or were the only team to score and concede over 100 goals in the same season (1957-58), or were the only team to score 31 goals in five rounds of the FA Cup only to lose 1-0 to Bolton in the final (1925-26 season) then let me know. Joking aside, if you think of Manchester City’s history then a fair few things spring to mind: Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee, Dennis Tueart, Denis Law’s back heel and so on and so on. One thing that has dogged the Blues’ history is the phrase ‘typical City’. In fact all the descriptions listed above epitomise the phrase ‘typical City’ – after all it is a well known fact that City do everything the hard way. In order to become the richest club in the world they first had to be taken over briefly by Thai tyrant Thaksin Shinawatra, a wanted man back in his native land for charges of corruption. Life as a City fan is certainly not an easy one.
Just when you thought things might get that little bit better following their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in August 2008, and the signing of Brazilian wonder Robinho from Real Madrid. In a British record transfer fee (at the time) it was a signing that sent City fans into raptures. Fans from across Manchester flocked to Eastlands, dancing in jubilation with elastic bands around their heads ensuring the tea-towels they donned remained in place. With such a hefty price tag Robinho was expected to set the Premier League alight. It didn’t take long for City to crash back down to reality, it was City after all who’d signed Robinho it was a transfer that was never going to work out – ‘typical City’ you could say.
As the weight of expectation increased (thanks to some indiscreet members of the board broadcasting club targets) and City were expected to challenge for the Champions League places, and ultimately win the league it was inevitable that City would fail and finish just outside the top four. Too many draws under Mark Hughes meant that the points ‘trajectory’ was falling below the target, culminating in City doing what they do best and sacking yet another manager – ‘typical City’ you could say.
With the club being accused of selling its soul the big question is will the Blues ever lose the tagline ‘typical City’? After all, there have been results this season which have been worthy of the phrase – take the two FA Cup ties for instance, both against lower league opposition and both went to replays. Granted, City won the replays which starts to buck the trend, but it seems that it might be some while yet before the club loses the tag for good.
But the phrase ‘typical City’ can also be used to describe actions by the club not relating to results on the field. Sir Alex Ferguson called City ‘a small club with a small mentality’ when asked what his views were on City’s witty, impressive and award winning ‘Welcome to Manchester’ marketing phenomenon featuring Carlos Tevez. It is City’s apparent obsession with United that has increased the friction between the two sets of fans. After City went top of the Barclays Premier for a short while a few months ago, the league table flashed on the big screen to show City ahead of United – even though the Blues had played two games more. Whilst it may appear innocuous to some it could appear as something a ‘small club’ would do. Or perhaps another example would be the baffling decision for Edin Dzeko, City’s only acquisition in January, to be named January’s player of the month after only a handful of appearances in which he hardly set the world on fire. Whilst it’s true that he needs time to settle – time which he will get given his previous scoring record – he was hardly a convincing choice for player of the month. These small matters may seem irrelevant, but until they are obliterated by Manchester City actually winning a major trophy, there will always be that monkey on the back and the chip on the shoulder.