MIDWAY:Blues for the Reds?
A ski resort somewhere in the Gulf, the brain can deal with. An enormous bridge across the Red Sea to Africa, well, fine!
But when oil-rich sheikhs turn to making Manchester City a top-four football club, it’s a bit too much interference with the natural order of things.
Concerned voices this morning asked if this was the end of the sport. It’s not. It’s the end of meaning. All reference points are scrambled.
Was it really just a happy fortnight ago that the stalls outside Old Trafford were mocking their local rivals with ex-Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appeal T-shirts?
Today, Manchester United fans have to deal with a very different beast, as
City switch foreign proprietors again.
In a mind-altering moment those faltering, comical mishaps in blue had turned into the world’s richest club.
In honesty, City will be doing, more or less, what Man United have long been accused of doing: buying success.
In United’s 1960s glory years, the club was owned by a shady local pork butcher, and splashed out hundreds of thousands of pounds in fees for players.
Only the scale has changed. United fans can keep the relative moral high ground employed when Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich skewed the playing field at Chelsea, pointing to a wealth largely generated by fans and the fact that the club’s own — unwelcomed — American owner has landed it with more debt than funds.
All we United fans can hope for is that our nouveau riche neighbours find,
like so many lottery winners, that their sudden windfall doesn’t buy them happiness.
After years of revelling in their status as lovable losers living beside an all-triumphing behemoth, City fans will feel the resentment of all those who see these undeserving carpetbaggers snapping up all the best players. City stars will quickly earn the “rent boys” tag now aimed derisively at Chelsea.
It’s all wrong, but City should enjoy it while it lasts. Fans who are long past thinking it can all be won on the pitch will be dreaming today. And one day their sheikh, too, will come.