Sorry City, UEFA will take your glad song and make it bitter…
22:00 GMT, 1 May 2012
Maybe it was the song. There is something rather wonderful about the coda to Hey Jude, something very affecting. They were at a peak then, The Beatles.
Hey Jude was recorded during sessions for their epic White Album, when they had their own record label, complete artistic freedom and were on top of the world. If the band wanted the first single on Apple to be seven minutes long, if Paul McCartney wanted a sing-a-long fade-out lasting four minutes, that's how it was.
'Paul walked over to the grand piano and said, “Hey, lads, have a listen”,' recalled Ron Griffith of the group Badfinger, the first to sign to Apple. 'He then played a full concert rendition of Hey Jude.'
Sing when you're winning: Liam Gallagher in celebratory mood at the Etihad on Monday night
Rock and roll: Liam with Diego Maradona
McCartney's vision for the song was unflinching. He told George Harrison to stop playing a guitar response to every line. 'The movement you need is on your shoulder,' sang McCartney. He didn't know what it meant, either. 'I'll fix that later,' he told the band. John Lennon said he should keep it in. 'It's the best line in the song,' he insisted.
When it came to the final chorus, the orchestra – 10 violins, three violas, three cellos, two flutes, one contra bassoon, one bassoon, two clarinets, one contra bass clarinet, four trumpets, four trombones, two horns, percussion, and two string basses – were paid double time to stay behind and clap and sing along.
'Astonishingly transcendental,' said former Yale professor and musicologist Alan Pollack, on the coda of Hey Jude. 'What could have been boring is instead hypnotic.' Lennon was more concise. He called it McCartney's masterpiece.
And even now, when 45,000 Sky Blues stay behind on the final whistle to celebrate a milestone victory over Manchester United, by singing the na-na-na chorus, and inserting City at its end, the emotion on display, even for neutrals, is greatly moving.
On Monday it felt like a spell, and, sure enough, like saying Candyman three times into a mirror, it brought forth Beatles disciple Liam Gallagher, who gave an impromptu press conference, underlining the fact that City always shaded Manchester's music wars, too.
The Fall, New Order, Oasis and Doves versus Mick Hucknall – we should really leave it there – Terry Hall of The Specials and The Stone Roses on United's side (although you will notice the colour scheme in the iconic Pollockesque portraits of the Roses is sky blue and white, due to photographer Kevin Cummins being an absolute City nutter and singer Ian Brown not spotting his mischief).
Anyway, we seem to have digressed
somewhat, but the point is this. Imbued in City's moment of glory was
inescapable sadness, too: because this club is the last. For as long as
UEFA remain in charge of the purse strings of English football, we will
never tread this path again. The door is shut now.
Last of a dying breed: City fans enjoy their win – but UEFA will stop future fairytales
This is the last group of fans who
can be lifted from mediocrity by the fairytale: the one where a very
rich man flies in bearing gifts and transports a club to the heavens.
And surveying the sheer pleasure that it brought one half of Manchester
on Monday, we have to ask: how did football allow this to happen
How did the sport permit a single man's idea of what is right and preferable to erase one of the most potent forces for good in the game Money from outside, coming in, to make dreams come true. What on earth was wrong with that
Forget Portsmouth, forget Leeds United, forget the financial disaster stories that are trotted out to make fans think like accountants and turn their fun, their weekend release, into an extension of mundane, recession-blighted existence.
Falling short: Arsenal would not have challenged Manchester United this year, even with Samir Nasri (centre)
This is not about spending money a club does not have, or ruinous owner loans that are given and then just as unthinkingly recalled. The focus here, specifically, is on the Abu Dhabi project and others like it, when a very rich man gives – without expectation of return – money to a football club to have a right old go.
Take City away and what would this season have brought A 13th Premier League title for Manchester United. Unlucky for some; mainly those who seek variety. Here comes another one, just like the other one.
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And don't pretend that Arsenal would have had more of a tilt at it, had City's wealth not taken their best players: Arsenal could call on Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri, plus a fit Jack Wilshere, in previous campaigns and did not get close.
Without owner investment and ambition, this is a one-team league. That slamming noise is the door shutting on the rest of football with City squeaking sideways through the diminishing gap just in time.
Every other club will have to do it the hard way now, even Liverpool, so the celebrations in Manchester marked the end of an era, too. It was an era dominated by the financial powerhouse that is Manchester United, but with the excitement of fresh faces and interlopers to at least keep them honest.
The biggest will have it easier from here, without having to meet the challenge of an equivalent to Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour's billions. Some talk of financial doping but it was never that. If you want to spend your money on your business, why not If money that was beyond football arrives and stays, the industry thrives.
Fortunately, in the English game, City and Chelsea made it in before the deadline passed, so our league should have four, maybe five clubs, capable of contesting the title. They are not so lucky in Spain, for instance, where it will take a miracle for the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid to be broken.
There are competitions throughout Europe that will become wholly one-dimensional after this. It is why we need City to finish this job now, to win at Newcastle United on Sunday, then against Queens Park Rangers and form a powerful rivalry across town.
We cannot rely on the old ways, football's natural rhythms, the ebbs and flows caused by successful investment or unfortunate mismanagement.
UEFA will protect the worst from themselves and the best from the others, so City are the last of it. The era of austerity is upon us and there won't be too many singsongs from here.
Still don't understand what makes a Plastic Brit… howzat
Whenever the phrase Plastic Brit crops up around Team GB, there is invariably some twit who relates it to Kevin Pietersen and England's cricketers. What is the difference between Pietersen and Tiffany Porter, it is asked. And this week came the answer.
Unlike the orchestrators of Team GB, who continue to use weak rules governing nationality to their advantage at every turn, the England and Wales Cricket Board have recognised the discomfort felt by many over the blurring of boundaries and have opted to take action.
From now on, overseas players wishing to qualify to play for England have to wait seven years, not four: Pietersen would not have been able to make his famous 158 against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series had the new rules been in place.
So there is the separation: one organisation acknowledges a problem; the other seeks to exploit it.
National treasure: Kevin Pietersen's unforgettable 158 at the Oval in 2005 helped England win the Ashes
Barmy to ban hero Barmby
Middlesbrough will not compete in the play-offs this week, but a banner on display during Saturday's game against Watford, said it all: 'Tony Mowbray – our hero.' Even if Mowbray fell short of a return to the Premier League, the fans appreciate the job he has done this season.
In football, there is something magnificent about the local boy made good. No doubt many in Middlesbrough's corner would rather wait a year and go forward with Mowbray, than attempt a quicker fix from outside.
Undoubtedly, what made Pep Guardiola's success at Barcelona so compelling was that he was their man, and it was his club. Alan Pardew has done magnificently with Newcastle United, but how much more perfect would it have been had Alan Shearer taken them to the brink of European qualification
This brings us to Nicky Barmby, now suspended and set to be sacked by Hull City owners Assem and Ehab Allam, for supposedly criticising the club.
The one thing we know about Barmby is that, for a man of his talent, he has spent considerably more time around Hull than is necessary: since 2004 as a player and from 2011 as manager. He must really love the place. He will also not be the first manager to encourage his bosses to spend a few quid.
It is madness to make an enemy of the local hero. If there is to be a revival on the east coast, it would have been much sweeter if Barmby had been its architect, and the owners clearly do not appreciate what a gem they possessed.
Setting the record straight on FA's decision to bypass Harry
First, from the in-tray, a few necessary corrections on the subject of Harry Redknapp.
'Where is Harry with his best football this season and great squad with two games to go Fifth.' Brian, Sunderland.
No, he's actually fourth with three games to go. Win the game in hand and he's a point behind Arsenal in third. To be in Brian's stated position he would have to lose 14-0 at Bolton Wanderers.
'A lot has been written about the job Redknapp's done at Spurs and their 'thrilling' Champions League exploits but when all is said and done he has got them to where they were under Martin Jol.' Karl, London.
Staying at Spurs: Harry Redknapp
'Apart from into the Champions League, with a top-four finish, Redknapp knows absolutely nothing about international football. Number of international games: Redknapp 0, Hodgson 80.' MoFo, London.
Number of professional appearances by Harry Redknapp 276, number by Roy Hodgson 0. So, extrapolating the logic here, Hodgson should never have got a league management job, and nor should translator Jose Mourinho or noted shoe salesman Arrigo Sacchi.
As for Spain, forget Pep Guardiola ever taking charge of the national team because he hasn't managed at international level. MoNonsense.
'To compare Hodgson with Redknapp and their track records this season is simply not fair. Maybe Hodgson should've blown the sort of money that Redknapp has at Spurs, Pompey and Southampton' Chris, Didcot.
Or Harry should have been allowed to spend like Manchester United and Manchester City before being dismissed for not keeping pace with them.
'Harry Rednapp the best England manager Nothing mentioned about the fact that relative to past seasons, Spurs are actually in a worse position while West Brom have improved.' Rambino, Birmingham.
Tottenham were bottom of the Premier League when Redknapp took over and two seasons later they were in the Champions League.
'Spurs really scared the Milan teams.' Lester Abrahart, Godalming.
They didn't just scare the Milan teams, they knocked AC Milan, Serie A leaders at the time, out of the Champions League over two legs and annihilated Inter Milan at home to the extent that it changed for ever the reputation of the player regarded as the best right back in the world, Maicon.
'Harry Redknapp has NEVER had a 50 per cent win average at any team he has managed.' Darius, Glasgow.
The headline regarding Hodgson's record at West Bromwich Albion read: Played 52, won 20, lost 20. Come on, do the maths. That's not a 50 per cent win average either, is it
'If you can so easily see how incompetent the FA are in this instance, maybe you should take another look at the Evra-Suarez case and you might realise that incompetence runs through the organisation.' Nellydean, West Midlands.
No, actually you're right, this is all about Suarez. Everything is. Sorry, I forgot.
And this is the crux of it, really. The case against Redknapp has to be manipulated to make it work because, ostensibly, there is no reason why a man who took Tottenham Hotspur from bottom of the Premier League on October 26, 2008 to a Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid on April 5, 2011, should not even be worthy of an interview for the job as England manager.
England expects: Roy Hodgson was named as the new Three Lions boss on Tuesday afternoon
We have been bemoaning the absence of Champions League experience in English managers for decades now, then one comes along and we ignore him.
If Redknapp wasn't around, Roy Hodgson would have been favourite for England and well supported. But he was, and so compelling was his case, it was simply presumed that he would be considered.
Face it, if the Redknapp decision wasn't so baffling, it would not require so many conspiracy theories about why he was overlooked: the importance of work at Burton-on-Trent, or his relationship with Sir Trevor Brooking, one of the four-man Club England committee.
For the record, Redknapp says that Brooking was very supportive when his father died, came to the funeral, and he is perplexed at rumours of a rift. There is a book about former West Ham United managers that goes more deeply into the circumstances of Redknapp's replacement of Billy Bonds and suggests a greater fissure, but Brooking insists he based his decision on professional, not personal, reservations, and we can only trust him.
Personally, I will always feel that the Football Association's unnecessary timescale and insistence that Tottenham Hotspur's season could not be affected made it impossible to approach Redknapp until it was too late.
Still, the serious stuff will soon begin, so there is no point decrying Hodgson simply for not being somebody else. He won't be Redknapp, or Fabio Capello, either. Maybe he will be better. Let's hope so. He is an English coach, brought through the English coaching system and if this works it should set the FA template.
We cannot know how Hodgson will fare and as for Redknapp, we never will, which seems a missed opportunity. But that's the past. We draw the line here and a new era begins. It's time to get the ball out.