Sunday 4 May 2008


What a week it has been at Manchester City Football Club. And honestly...what the hell is going on? The season has been a complete roller-coaster for City; from jubilation and ecstasy to utter disbelief and horror in the space of nine months.

When Shinawatra took over in the summer, the foreign chairman was a welcome arrival in Manchester and to be honest, most blues were just grateful of the inevitable cash injection his introduction promised. Now, it has proven to be a very public example of how a foreign takeover at a football club can prove to be disastrous. The club has well and truly lost its soul and passion, selling out to the highest bidder and losing pride and self esteem along the way.

The appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson as manager took most by surprise and signaled Shinawatra's intent of transforming City into a side capable of realistically chasing Europe. Signings included Elano, Petrov, Corluka to name a few, and the season started with a bang with a win at Upton Park back in August last year. Scaling the dizzy heights at the top of the Premiership was unchartered territory for mesmerized City fans who welcomed the spellbinding run of form the blues had embarked on, the record-breaking start almost too good to be true.

The tide turned after Christmas with form drying up and confidence dipping. A rare and unprecedented double over United boosted spirits after the F.A. Cup run ended with such a damp squib at Bramhall Lane. Sloppy and lackluster performances meant that City's dreams of Europe became just that, a dream, a season with so much promise and early success ending with a sad whimper.

The arrival of Shinawatra brought money and controversy. Much has been made of foreign ownership in the Premier League; the likes of Abramovich, Gillett and Hicks, the Glazers all eyeing up top flight football clubs to do business and make money. Do any of them actually stop and think of the origins of the club, and the fans? Shinawatra's personal ambitions and desire for financial gain is ruining the club I love so much. This season, Sven has achieved a top half finish to the season for City. Money was guaranteed for more transfers in the summer for him to build on this success.

Now what? Chaos. Anarchy. Despair. Just as it looked like stability had arrived at Manchester City, Shinawatra is unhappy with Sven's end of season report. It seems that possible ninth place just isn't good enough for him, so Sven has to go. A player revolt is sure to follow. United want Micah Richards for £25 million, Arsenal and Liverpool want Michael Johnson, Sunderland and Newcastle both want our captain Richard Dunne. Michael Petrov is being linked with Spurs and who wouldn't be interested in Joe Hart given the form he is in at the moment? The players are ready to vote with the feet- and that is exactly what the fans should do.

There has already been a fan backlash, with a couple of protests happening in Manchester within the past week. At Anfield the City faithful chanted constantly for 90 minutes towards Sven and there is a further mass protest planned at Eastlands next Saturday. It is simply too late. Sven is gone. I admire the way the Swede has handled the entire farcical situation; how humiliating it must be for him to more or less do exactly what has been asked of him then to find himself out of a job after only one season. Sven has reacted with dignity and showed not one sign of remorse. The club has tried to silence him and to freeze him out. The club, Manchester City, should be completely ashamed of themselves, and hideously embarrassed.

I had been lucky enough to join Sven earlier in the season at a player's dinner, and had written an article about the evening. This is a small extract from it. How times change..."Sure enough, one by one, our heroes joined us. The first to enter to a rapturous standing ovation was Sven and his assistant Bakke. Sven looked completely overwhelmed at the endless applause that greeted him as he bashfully waved around at the audience. He was much smaller than I imagined and was quite gaunt.

Sven was promptly followed by the players, who were greeted with the same reception- a reception that was completely justified given the start to the season. Vedran Corluka came to our table and sat next to me, while Darius Vassell sat next to Sue. The compere then turned our attention to the screen to watch highlights of the season so far. The lights were dimmed and the goals were greeted with whooping and applause between both the players and the public. Johnson’s goals won high appraise, to which he blushed and modestly bowed his head.

Predictably, Elano’s sensational goals once again wowed the crowd, but what surprised me was watching Sven’s reactions. The Swede sat quietly with Bakke, Wardle and representatives from the Manchester Evening News smiling and admiring his handiwork. He looked like a proud father on sport’s day: basking in the success and the club’s incredible start."

Shinawatra will have his way, and Sven will go. But money, Mr Shinawatra, certainly can't buy you love. City fans love this club with a big passion, and he is betraying that love. As for City? If the player walk-out happens, heaven forbid, the club will implode and City will be left in tatters. It is hard to see the light out of a tunnel so hazy at the moment. Let’s just hope that City can finish the season with a win at the Riverside, as Sven's way of ending his ridiculously short stay in charge on a high note.

In Sven we trusted, in Thaksin we don't.

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