There is a widely shared feeling that it would be wonderful for Newcastle United to enjoy the same good fortune as Man City and be taken over by some money-no-object operation and for the club to be catapulted into the rarefied atmosphere the recently minted Mancunians now enjoy. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love the sight of some of the world’s greatest players turning out in our colours and sending SJP into raptures with some of the best football ever played on these shores.  Aguero, Silva, De Bruyne and Sane would get into any team in the world. They are one of the few teams playing nowadays I’ll bother to switch the telly onto watch. They play marvellous football.

There is a flip-side however. And that is Man City are no longer Man City. The club that once played at Maine Road, was avowedly a working class Mancunian institution is no more. It is dead. In its place is a growing corporate behemoth, an expression of economic power that no club on the planet can compete with. Where once trips to Maine Road were negotiated with your eyes and ears wide-open in the in the unforgiving streets of Mossside, now there is a replacement stadia and set-up, that whilst dripping of money, has all of the excitement and edge of a trip to an out of town retail park. Man City fans once sneered at the day-tripper experience of their cross town rivals but the truth is they are a tribute act to their red neighbours, simply minus the romance and heritage of the tourist attraction at Trafford Park.

I don’t think I’ve experienced a more controlled environment than the one at the Etihad. The layered security, sniffer dogs and body-searches is all completely over the top outside but the pitch-side interviews with Paul Power (ask your Dad) talking about how he’d loved to have played in this Man City team (fat chance, Paul) and how his team needed another goal, blasting into your eyes and ears was pure TV experience and made me wondered why I’d paid for the real thing when the telly-version is the one being provided right in front of us.

Manchester City Thanks Sheik Mansour!

That’s a flag hung from the stand. I’ve seen it before. I almost chuck every time I see it. Then there’s the virtual flags meant to be fluttering over the stands. Do me a favour!

Where Were You When You Were Shit?

Obviously, this rankles with the home crowd because that support is proud of the way some of it’s support stuck by Man City in less financially doped days at Maine Road, when they were a proper club. I laughed when they sung it back to the away end, blissfully ignorant it seems, of the Championship team we are following in the Premier League.

If there is one thing our support utterly owns and it’s the moral high ground.

Anyway. The football. We defied the odds and as ever Rafa’s team, up against it, weren’t found wanting for organisation, effort and courage. But we simply lack quality to take a game to a side of Man City’s stellar ability for any length of time.

Sterling had the ball in the back of the net before Aguero scored yet another against us. I’ve not seen any highlights of the game since I left the match but an incoming text advised me we’d had a let-off and the goal should have stood.

I’d hoped we’d have gotten to half-time NILs apiece but that wasn’t to be. One thing I’d say about Rafa’s team and that is their heads never drop. I’ve been here to see United torn apart under Souness, Pardew and McClaren and frankly those sides stopped playing, chucked it in and various players hid, disgracing the shirt. Rafa’s lads, short of quality that they are definitely are, never do that and that’s why I’ll never get angry with them. That fury is reserved for a fat twat in Berkshire who should take the advice of the away end and get out of our club.

Lascelles is emerging as an excellent leader of the club. I’ve no desire for him to go to Russia in the words of the song because if he progresses to a certain level, he’ll be sold. I thought Dummett was spot on, committed and clever. He’s a good, solid professional that lad and it is utterly shameful how he has been treated by the yahoos in our support.

Fair play to Diame who put in a good shift and it appears more supporters are coming to the view Jacob Murphy is improving and is an asset to United. For me, Darlow looked assured, his goalkeeping was competent and eye-catching on a couple of occasions.

I can’t say what I think of their penalty. I thought it was a pen, I thought I saw hands on the lad’s back but those who’ve seen the telly replays from a hundred different angles will have a different view.

I was pleasantly surprised by our goal. It seemed to come out of the blue (pun intended) but credit to Murphy who kept his composure and at 2-1, the away end found hope much to the chagrin of the weirdos in the home end who took to scrapping with each other and embarrassing themselves with gloating gestures towards us. Man U fans do that thing much better lads and there aren’t quite so many 40-year old virgins amongst them.

The third killed the game but you know, like the game at SJP, our two-bob, raggy-arsed bunch of triers was in the game right to the finish and didn’t allow themselves to be torn apart.

They did themselves and their manager justice but Newcastle United should be about a lot more than that. Under Ashley it never will be and if the manager leaves and the takeover fails, nights like this, when we were even competing against one of the world’s best, with two hands toed behind our back will seem like the good old days.


MICHAEL MARTIN – Follow Michael on @tfMichael1892  


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