The thing that got me about this whole ‘Welcome To Manchester’ thing (topical, I know) wasn’t the bare-faced cheek of it, which I secretly kind of admired, but the ludicrous nature of it all. I can’t really see any other club having done something similar. Could you imagine Everton putting a picture of Dirk Kuyt up on a huge billboard in Liverpool city centre if they ever signed him? No, and not just because the sight of a twenty-foot tall Dirk Kuyt is almost certain to lead to countless dozens of road fatalities. It just seemed such an odd and desperate thing to do.
The Tevez poster, combined with the Arndale Adebayor public spittoon, are the latest in a long line of Manchester city derived hijinks with the sole aim of perpetrating this whole ‘city are the true Manchester’ team myth. A few years ago, with their ‘This Is Our City’ posters spamming every free billboard in an SK postcode area, you could sort of see their point. They were wrong, of course, but there was maybe a slither of a nugget of a truth in there. While Manchester United were off chasing global markets, increasing brand awareness, and in the case of Martin Edwards hiding in the women’s toilets to catch a glimpse of his employees pissing, city were left behind on and off the pitch. Claiming the local high ground was the only thing left to do. While United were in danger of forgetting, or more likely ignoring, their roots, it’s all city had to play with.
But times have changed since then. city have been bought not once, but twice. Firstly by Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai PM with an appalling human rights record (outlined here), and more recently by Sheikh Mansour. And what do the city fans do? Nowt. First of all they make a banner saying ‘We Support Thaksin’ and anyone who has read the link posted up there will know what a diabolical thing to say that is. And then, after Shinawatra sold up, they make a new banner, the appallingly snivelling ‘Manchester Thanks You Sheikh Mansour’, which they all sit under in keffiyeh made out of tea towels. city fans, it seems, are delighted their club is traded like a pannini sticker. They love it.
That isn’t right. That isn’t what Manchester was built on. There’s a long history of revolution and rebellion in Manchester; industrial, cultural, footballing. When the Glazers first visited Old Trafford, were they welcomed by half a dozen spazzy fans dressed in fake ginger beards and high waisted jeans? Were they fuck. They were barricaded in the ground, whilst angry protests made it clear to the world that these chancers, these carpetbaggers were unwelcome. There were marches, meetings, chants. There was a strong and staunch belief that Manchester United didn’t belong to any one person, but to the people of Manchester. You can’t buy and sell generations of history, tradition, and shared experiences. And to sit back and not only watch it happen, but wave in the likes of Glazer, Shinawatra and Mansour is a disgrace and an insult to Manchester and Mancunians everywhere.
All of which comes straight from my A Level text book of political philosophy and righteous indignation. And of course I don’t even need to point out how daft it is city playing on this whole ‘Manchester’s club’ thing now, when they have a team filled with foreign stars, are owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family who spent their summer holidays playing friendlies in South Africa.
So far from representing Manchester and Mancunians, city have been embarrassing them for over forty years now. The spirit of arrogance, soul, rebellion and revolution that helped form the city has long lived in the heart of Manchester United, and we at FC United are the logical conclusion to that.
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