Premier League – Jim White: Has success come at a cost for City?

Posted: May 13, 2012 at 1:14 am

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Fri, 11 May 16:29:00 2012

With the kind of timing publishers must dread, this month sees the release of Colin Shindler's latest memoir.

The author sold an awful lot of copies of his earlier tale, "Manchester United Ruined My Life", which was released well over a decade ago. It was a book which suggested that, in its rapacious, commercially-driven quest for monopoly, the Old Trafford operation was driving much of the joy out of football.

As a City supporter, Shindler might be expected to think that. But his tome was nicely argued, fluent and funny and found plenty who agreed with its critique of the rapacious red menace and all it stood for.

About time, you might think, for Shindler to cheer up a little. After all, this Sunday a City captain is poised to lift the English championship for only the second time in his lifetime. A championship title, moreover, which has been won at the glorious expense of the Salford beast. Just the right timing to publish a celebration of all things sky blue, you might think. Except Shindler's latest is called "Manchester City Ruined My Life."

In it he laments all the things that City have lost in their relentless pursuit of supremacy. Not just that old, traditional, comical ability to shoot themselves in the foot, but the sense of community, the sense of shared value, the sense that the players on the park are representing the regulars in the stand. The idea that they are all in it together.

What City always were, Shindler argues, was different from United. Now, he believes, that in their unrelenting desire to best their neighbours, they have become everything he loathed about the reds. In short they have ceased to be a football club and become a sporting corporation.

Quite what Shindler would have made of the revelation in the Telegraph this week that City had spent close to a billion pounds in pursuit of the prize is too late to include in his book. But not even United, the old buyers of trophies, can come close to that sort of outlay. Nor, with a bunch of parasitical American owners to satisfy, are they likely to in future.

And how Shindler must have winced when he watched television coverage of the Manc derby the other week. On the advertising hoardings around the Etihad pitch were not the usual commercial messages for Bet Fred or Carling lager. What there were instead were ads for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, holidays in the Emirates and the endless number of destinations offered by Etihad airlines.

What City, the cosy, oddball, local institution Shindler once loved, have become is something of a different order altogether. They have become the promotional vehicle for an entire nation.

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Premier League - Jim White: Has success come at a cost for City?

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May 13th, 2012 at 1:14 am

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