x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Manchester City is a club that is in good hands

As the 6-1 mauling of rivals Manchester United demonstrated, Manchester City are a club in good hands.

Let us see, Liverpool had two American owners who proved that being a billionaire does not necessarily rule out being a clown. This at least proved helpful in the area of sociology edification.

Portsmouth had four owners one season, including at least one the devoted fan base never so much as saw, leading many to wonder if he actually existed in human form or lived only as a voice like the boss in "Charlie's Angels".

West Ham United suddenly had to fret about Iceland given the American-bubbled world economy of 2008. Manchester City fans once had to maintain a working knowledge of the recent history of Thailand, a marvellous nation but perhaps not the parents' intention when imbuing the newborn with the light-blue heredity.

You do gaze upon some haunting, daunting exhibits when observing the wild, wild, unregulated free market of the English Premier League. As if attempting some sort of microcosm of the messy planet itself, the biggest league on the orb has presented to us financial scenarios that could make any careless terrace lout wish to join Occupy Wall Street.

Somebody swoops in to buy your club and to take both it and your deepest emotions for a ride, and you must sort of close your eyes and hope the roller coaster has sturdy support beams. That's a bit how I remember some Manchester City fans when their Abu Dhabi ownership arrived anew.

In late 2009, I spoke to one officer of a regional fan club who felt hugely impressed with Abu Dhabi. He had gone to some get-to-know-you gatherings at the stadium. He had revelled in the smart attention toward fan legacy. He said he also loved the Middle Eastern food, and might have mentioned even the stuffed grape leaves.

But, you never know.

Well, now they do.

I'm sorry, but when you go to Old Trafford and win by 6-1, that means you have got the right owner for your interests. If that sense had not cemented already by last Sunday noon, it had finished doing so by last Sunday dusk. I don't care if you win nothing from here to May, and if you lose all 38 games next season, and if by 2020 you wind up relegated so far downwards that your play your matches in front of nobody but incurious sheep.

That 6-1 will breathe, of course, for as long as the people who saw it do, maybe even for as long as future generations do once those people here now have reproduced. It was a definition, a buoy, and a cornerstone whose edges etched themselves shockingly upon the seen-it-all face of Sir Alex Ferguson, dredging from him a quotation that made the jaw drop, a man of such ego and pride confessing to a career nadir and to outright disbelief at the scoreline.

He is right. It is hard to believe. It would seem implausible had it occurred four miles across town, but to have it happen in one of the world's most celebrated theatres, well … It's one of those score lines as hard to digest as a service station steak, such that you might keep looking at it repeatedly while hoping for cognition. I find myself glued to the replay highlights, as if thinking some credits might turn up featuring some City-minded director having a delusion.

In fact, if you close your eyes right here, you might even envision some City fan reading the scoreline again and again and again, just to fit it in the brain and make the day pleasurable. Some might get stuck on it and desist common human functionality, blathering in some sort of useless state of bliss. So there is a danger.

In turn, then, 6-1 provides a curious benchmark for Abu Dhabi itself. It's the type of jolt that can make people wonder what on earth happened there, and what happened leads back to Abu Dhabi. Look what fresh force upturned football's Darwinian apple cart and reshaped its top division.

With football more important than anything else in the world, including crucial yet less-significant matters such as love, food and golf, 6-1 confers impact. If you're a young state ambitiously engaging the planet, diplomats are nice even if eventually they make audiences fall asleep, and advertising is a feat of talent even if it can get lost in the deluge, but winning 6-1 at Old Trafford …

That is a beacon of a world ever more interconnected. Historians might want to get into that. General historians.


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