x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

It has been a privilege to watch Manchester City this season

Win, lose or draw, this supporter says the 'noisy neighbours' will be heard for many more years to come.

Manchester City have played exhilirating football this season. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
Manchester City have played exhilirating football this season. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Even now, with one hand supposedly touching the Premier League trophy, us Manchester City fans refuse to believe that today's game will yield the required result.

City have previous. The club just doesn't do things the easy way. Even the moments of victory are tinged with high drama: a nail-biting final day away victory to win the league 44 years ago, an impossible injury-time comeback and a penalty shoot-out win to clinch promotion 13 years ago.

Multiple relegations and final-day heartbreaks means the club's fans are conditioned to expect failure. No matter how good the team is now, those old habits refuse to die.

And what of today? I'm hoping for the best but fearing the worst; waiting for the inevitable stumble, while willing it not to happen.

Straight after City's win at Newcastle United last weekend, my phone buzzed with text messages. Each one used words like "awful" and "stressful" to describe that crucial away victory.

I don't agree with that. Watching David Silva, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Carlos Tevez pass their way from one end of the pitch to the other is neither awful nor stressful. It can be exhilarating.

Stress is something altogether different. Stress is watching City slip meekly towards relegation five times in the past three decades.

And so, before fate deals whatever it has in store today, I can say only this: win, lose or draw, it has been a privilege to witness this season's incredible journey and to say, with some degree of certainty, that Manchester United's "noisy neighbours" will not be quietened for a while yet.

nmarch@thenational.ae

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