x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Manchester City fans need a strategy to cope, so allow me to suggest ...

United can clinch the title at Etihad Stadium, so City supporters must be prepared.

Manchester City's fans are dreaming about Micah Richards, above, and company going top of the table. But dreams can become nightmares.
Manchester City's fans are dreaming about Micah Richards, above, and company going top of the table. But dreams can become nightmares.

As Manchester United can clinch the title at Etihad Stadium, City supporters need to be prepared for the worst. Will Batchelor explains:

Oh, dear. Manchester United's wobble at Wigan means Manchester City fans are daring to dream.

They say they are not - and Roberto Mancini insists the Premier League is United's - but we all know they are.

We know this because we, too, are football fans. We understand that our capacity for naive optimism and self-imposed torment is limitless.

Every night, as their heads touch those sky-blue pillows, they are doing "title maths".

"If we beat Norwich and Wolves," they feverishly mutter, "and United drop just a couple of points against either Villa or Everton, then we'll be on 80 points and them on 83 when we meet at Etihad Stadium.

"Win that and it's even-stevens! Then all we need to do is beat Newcastle and QPR, and hope they stumble against Swansea or Sunderland, and the title is ours.

"All ours!"

Yes, it is that simple. Win five games in a row - a feat you last managed in October - and, providing United slip up three times, glory awaits.

But wakey-wakey!

Here is another perfectly feasible scenario: City beat no-hopers Wolves next weekend but draw away at spunky Norwich on Saturday, while United win both home games against a poor Villa and an FA Cup-wearied Everton.

Then the gap is back to eight points and City face the Doomsday scenario: United winning the title at Etihad Stadium, as even a draw would be enough to seal it.

For this reason I must strongly urge City fans to cease dreaming of silverware and focus on your coping strategy for April 30, a match gloating United fans have already dubbed the Coronation Derby.


As I see it, here are your options:

  • Leave early A shameful and unthinkable strategy. Besides, you would still meet United fans outside as they often leave early to miss the traffic. Well, it is a long way back to Surrey.
  • Hide Just as Roman soldiers used to link shields above their heads to form a tortoiseshell-style defence, so City fans could do the same beneath one of those giant terrace mosaics of, say, Mike Summerbee. It should be noted, however, that Roman soldiers were generally seeking protection from arrows and boiling oil. Their shields would have been of limited use had the barbarian hordes just wanted to laugh at them.
  • Trump United's achievement How about paying the surviving Beatles to reform and play a one-off gig just after the final whistle?
  • Denial Insist that you have switched from the Gregorian to the Julian calendar, which means it is still February and there is everything to play for.
  • Perspective A lot of bad things have happened on April 30. You could try asking the United fans if they feel it is appropriate to celebrate such a relatively trifling matter as sport on the 37th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.
  • Gloat Remind them of how you snaffled the brilliant Carlos Tevez from under their noses, and how he turned to be one of the best players ever to … no, hang on, that won't work at all.
  • Do the Poznan And keep doing it until they get bored and go home. It could take quite a while but I believe this may be your only realistic option.




As hard as it is, let's turn our eyes away from the Mancunian candidates because, for several hours on Saturday, the city of Liverpool will dominate the global sporting agenda: first in the all-Liverpool FA Cup semi-final, then the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse.

Given the well-known love affair between footballers and horses, and the local interest, it seems likely that - whatever the result of the match at Wembley Stadium - the players and management of both teams will be glued to the big race.

But which horses will they be cheering on?

I have a sneaking suspicion that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will plump for Always Right, although he may also fancy Deep Purple, which is the colour he turns during news conferences.

His captain, Steven Gerrard, should go for Postmaster, because he always delivers, while old mate Jamie Carragher could opt for Treacle, to match his pace.

We don't really know who will be keeping goal for Liverpool by the end of the match but, at the current rate, it will probably be the work-experience kid. So let's give him Junior. (Senior keepers Reina, Doni and Jones will go for a mixture of Organisedconfusion and Becauseicouldntsee.)

I would suggest that Andy Carroll has long preferred The Midnight Club, followed closely by Midnight Haze. Damien Comolli, who departed as director of football this week, might be drawn towards On His Own. The American owner John Henry, meanwhile, must be feeling Chicago Grey, even if he's Boston-based.

The Everton manager David Moyes will surely go for Rare Bob because that sounds like his available transfer kitty. The man holding the purse strings - tightly - is owner Bill Kenwright, who made his fortune in London theatre. Which means he probably fancies West End Rocker.

The more impatient Everton fans, however, may prefer Swing Bill.


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