Football is a vicious sport. But what makes this sport unlike any other is the expectations that go along with it.
Hired at a struggling club? Turn it around in a few weeks or your managerial career there is over.
Hired at a top-tier club thirsting for more hardware? Win every match or be forced to face questions about your future with the club.
One thing football has always had is a flare for the dramatic. Whether the drama arises from last-gasp endings you couldn’t write in a Hollywood script or from players over-selling the lack of calls on the pitch, drama will always go hand-in-hand with football.
But with the media seemingly operating a higher rate than ever before, no word, whisper, shove, bite, or wink is left unnoticed. Unfortunately, fan support falls into the media hoopla without fail. And when fans are overreacting to their team’s recent run of results, official media sources need not bother covering it, that’s what social media is for.
I do not speak for the entire staff here at Bitter and Blue. But to let the negativity surrounding Manchester City go unacknowledged would only make me an accomplice to the madness.
I spent 14 years of my life playing organized football on school teams and travel teams alike. I’ve continued my love of football through my participation in recreational leagues with other people who may also be a step or two (or seven) out of their prime. The constant in every team I have been apart of is the passion for the game. No matter what the circumstances, I could always lineup knowing the guys around me wanted to be ahead when that final whistle blew just as much as I did. More importantly, I knew the people in the stands wanted that success just as badly.
But despite that drive for success, matches didn’t always go our way. Whether because of great passing, divine finishing, unlucky calls, or botched opportunities in front of net, fans always let their voices be heard. Unfortunately, the noise from the stands wasn’t always positive.
Trying to organize your squad on the pitch mid-match while down 3-0 is hard enough. Trying to organize the entirety of your club’s global supporters in the midst of an up-and-down season is even harder.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you City are going to win the Premier League. I’m not going to tell you City are going to win the Champions League. Heck, I won’t even tell you that we will net one single goal against Watford on Wednesday.
What I will tell you is that for any of that to happen, City’s squad needs to be aware of why they are stepping out onto the pitch.
Kevin De Bruyne didn’t pick Manchester City because he thought the Premier League was easier than the Bundesliga. Leroy Sané didn’t sacrifice a consistent starting role for Schalke 04 because he thought he was guaranteed trophies at the conclusion of this season in Manchester. Nolito didn’t leave his home country expecting to return a year later with more hardware than he could hold.
All of these players knew they were joining a project, a project with a new manager overseeing operations.
City are currently in fourth place after 15 matches, 7 points back of leaders Chelsea. After playing 15 matches in the 2013/14 campaign, City sat in 4th place, 6 points off leaders Arsenal. By the time the dust had settled in May 2014, City won the league and Arsenal finished... you guessed it, fourth, 7 points back of winners City.
I’m not expecting this article on English football written by an American to change the footballing world for the better. Heck, I’d be surprised to reach an audience of triple digits. But what I do hope is that City fans are able to take a step back from their hyper-inflated preseason expectations and take a deep breath.
We have Pep Guardiola, you’re absolutely right. He’s won titles in 6 of the 7 seasons he has acted as first-team manager. Since 2008, the Catalan has headed up Bayern Munich and Barcelona, teams that are drowning in long, storied histories with consistent success dating back centuries.
We are Manchester City. We were in the second tier of English football as recently as 2001. Yes, we have a long history as a club. Is that history filled with what seems like non-stop success? Absolutely not. We are a growing club who is finding its identity.
City have reached the summit of English football twice in the past five years. Both of those seasons were filled with rough patches of their own. They were also under the direction of two very different managers stylistically. But with the belief rampant amongst the fan base that “we could finally steal a title from United,” players and managers began to belief, too. Why not us and why not now?
But City have grown out of the underdog phase. After several years of purchasing players that we hoped would buy into the up-and-coming City mindset, we have settled in as a club. The success we craved so ravenously before is now an expectation. Instead of the “C’MON CITY” mentality burning strong in each and every fan across the globe, City fans have turned to typing “typical City” as their next Tweet, ready to hit the enter button at the next slip-up our boys run into.
Lest we forget, “Together” was the club’s motto during the 2011/12 title-winning campaign.
To be upset with how Manchester City are currently playing is to forget where we came from. If you’re a newer fan who only started supporting City after witnessing it’s recent success: welcome aboard, you’re now supporting the greatest football club in the world.
Now, return the favor and be the greatest fans in the world.