Now then, now then, now then, then now, come on...enough already! The battery of press attacks against Manchester City over the last few days has reached a fever pitch. But this is a good thing. A very good thing.
Blues enthusiasm hit rock bottom for the season after the Sunderland game and it became open season for reporters, many of whom had been sharpening their knives all season long waiting for this moment. Licking their lips, they had the articles primed and ready, all their sad headline-writers had to do was come up with some predictable pap of a banner and they could hit send.
This is perfect timing. Not only is Mancini under fire but stories abound on much of the team, the perfect tonic to unite the dressing room. Crisis at the Etihad, panic, Mancini to be sacked, get the army helmets out and dig in because this is one of the worst seasons I can remember for a long time. We broke the Premier League record with 20 consecutive home wins after the incredible comeback at Chelsea - you know what these really are dark days indeed.
I was most struck in midweek by one of the laziest articles I've ever seen written in a newspaper. Struck because my reaction to it would have been much more angry in days gone by. Instead, I felt a feeling of elation as Chief Football Writer of London's main daily was reduced to 'gutter press' status with his weak and feeble cheap shot.
"City are a ridiculous club," was his opening gambit in his tirade against the Blues on 4th April (article here). No but hang on. It gets better. "Having been willing to sacrifice most conventional football principles in a desperate and often ugly pursuit of silverware, they made their fast-tracked assault on the game’s elite all about the winning."
And you thought that was bad? "At a time when football is finally realising its general approach to financial management is utterly unsustainable, City’s largesse is grotesque if unaccompanied by any deeper philosophy or commitment to win in the right way and exhibiting a strong moral compass."
Now we're in tears laughing are we not?! This is extraordinary! A London-based Chief Football Correspondent entering into the world of morals, philosophy, and life navigation. Is this a covert application for Martin Samuel's job at the Daily Mail?! You'll never get it James, he's too good!
Manchester City's owners have exhibited humility, kept their wealth well under wraps in Manchester, and as the country recovers from being on its knees they are busy planning an urban regeneration that is bigger than any government project in the area. Job creation, positive growth, a long-term commitment to a local community, a long-term commitment to a proud football club. There's plenty more deeper James, if you had bothered to dig that deep.
Mark Ogden reminded us this morning that he doesn't write the headlines. A closer inspection of his article that led with the headline, "Is it all getting too much for Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini" revealed a balanced article written by someone who could be bothered to recall his memory of Mancini's past efforts.
But if London's evening daily could only produce empty fag packets, then Manchester's daily didn't do much better. After much speculation about the front page headline, we were left to consider for what seemed like an eternally long nano-second how bad builders can occasionally be (article link). How very dull.
The best thing about this "exclusive" was that it was attributed to three MEN writers. It took three of them?!
What does all of this tell you about Manchester City in this moment? That we're good.
Good enough to win the title? As Buzzer said earlier today, "it ain't over till the fat lady sings."
All the best,