Manchester City fans must not forget their past – Neil Ashton

With Man City trending, fans must not forget their less fashionable history



23:01 GMT, 24 April 2012

Neil Ashton is back once again with his brilliant Ash Wednesday column. Each week, our Football News Correspondent will give his views on the hot topics in the game…

After the title race unfolded in Manchester City’s favour last weekend, their supporters should be high on hope and expectation.

Three points off the Reds down the road, with a home game against them at the Etihad Stadium on Monday night, Roberto Mancini’s team can sort out this Barclays Premier League title once and for all.

Sadly, many of their supporters mistakenly maintain that there is an anti-City agenda in the media, amplified by their spending pattern under Sheik Mansour and reinforced by the annual trophy count at Old Trafford.

Heady times: Man City are in contention for the Premier League title

Heady times: Man City are in contention for the Premier League title

There is only one thing more sinister than a death threat on Twitter and that is the message that '@neilashton_ is trending in Manchester'.

It means, with certainty, that City’s supporters are spraying spittle all over their computer screens and bludgeoning their keyboards again.

It seemed every City supporter in the M1, M2, M3 and M4 postal codes was at it late on Sunday night, threatening to combust after failing to take a tweet in the spirit it was intended.

The offending message, urging excitable City supporters to ‘turn off the lights and get some sleep, it’s not Christmas yet’, was an abstract reference to Monday’s title-decider.

Typically, it was taken as another pot-shot at a team with the glory years already mapped out in front of them, thanks to Sheik Mansour’s extravagant investment.

Even Google, the multi-billion dollar
enterprise, based in Mountain View, California, has it in for them,
apparently because United appear above City in the search engine when
‘Manchester’ is tapped in. Seriously.

Dominance: United have ruled Manchester - but will that change

Dominance: United have ruled Manchester – but will that change

They are pig sick of playing second fiddle, convincing themselves that United’s success under Sir Alex Ferguson has restricted their rights in English football.

It seems such a shame that they are so determined to shed the past like a second skin, rising above the Reds across the city and rewriting the history books. This isn’t Sky and the Premier League, lads.

Sat high up in the stands at the old Wembley stadium thanks to the late, great Malcolm Allison, at the 1981 FA Cup Final against Tottenham, it was another club.

They should be proud of their previous existence, even the nights when 3,007 desperate souls sat in the Kippax at Maine Road for the Auto Windscreen Shield first-round tie against Mansfield Town on December 8, 1998.

They should hold on to the tapestry and take some pride in the fact they remained loyal when they fell through the divisions before scrapping their way back to the top flight.

It is a different club now, but they
should preserve the artefacts and accept that they had, like almost
every other club in the country, a turbulent history.

There is nothing to be ashamed of
playing in front of 32,134 supporters in their opening game of the
season in the old Division Two against Blackpool.

Unforgettable: City's players celebrate their epic Wembley win in 1999

Unforgettable: City's players celebrate their epic Wembley win in 1999

Roll With It: Liam Gallagher was at Wembley to witness the play-off win

Roll With It: Liam Gallagher was at Wembley to witness the play-off win

Or the visit a few months later to Boundary Park, where Kevin Horlock scored twice and that blockhead of a captain Andy Morrison added City’s third.

Joe Royle’s team ended the season winning the play-off final against Gillingham, chasing keeper Nicky Weaver across the old Wembley surface after his heroics in the penalty shoot-out.

These are terrific memories, part of a fabric of a team that has appointed 34 managers in the Football League era.

Perhaps they should bring back those dark blue socks that were worn in that period as a nod in the direction of the team and remind the supporters of the times when they really had it tough.

City’s fans pick up on everything, dismembering sentences and isolating them on edgy and unmoderated supporter sites.

A couple of years back they were wired into talkSPORT, picking over a comment about City being ‘a club without class’ during Sheik Mansour’s unprecedented spending.

They ignored the context and the subsequent explanation, which included former City chief executive Garry Cook dancing on tables in an Alderley Edge nightclub after they beat Arsenal 4-2 on September 12, 2009.

He was sending over bottles of champagne
to his embarrassed players, wiggling his hips and dancing a merry jig
in front of them like a tipsy dad at his daughter’s wedding.

The future: Sergio Aguero is attempting to fire City to glory

The future: Sergio Aguero is attempting to fire City to glory

In mitigation, Cook once stepped off a train at London Euston and offered a lift in one of the chauffeur-driven cars supplied by the company City’s captain Vincent Kompany happens to own a stake in.

Their wealth altered their perception overnight, cultivating a new image that was completely disassociated with their past.

At the time they had only just finished signing the cheques on a 200million spending spree, acquiring Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jerome Boateng, Adam Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry.

That kind of spending pattern changed the culture – and the perception – of a club overnight.

They hated the stories of dressing room bust-ups, the details of Yaya Toure’s incredible contract being leaked and then Tevez’s transfer request coming without warning just before Christmas in 2010.

They were not equipped to deal with the attention, taking to the messageboards again and giving their keyboards the mother of all beatings.

Then again, that’s the trend these days.