Fresh from the disgraceful, if predictable behaviour of Manchester City fans at Eastlands on Saturday, supporters then beat up Mame Biram Diouf’s brother after the game. Proof, if required, that nouveau riche millions rarely changes clubs or their fans for the better. But reputation does matter for Abu Dhabi’s Royal Family.
City’s acquisition by Sheikh Mansour and co was the very definition of a vanity purchase. The club, much like Chelsea before, bought at the whim of the ultra rich with little interest in its history. Even profit appears to have little relevance, with more than £300 million spent on transfer fees and losses locked into the business plan for many years to come.
Rather, the ‘glory’ of owning a Premier League club for the world to see, with the associated prestige and glamour attracted Abu Dhabi as much as Roman Abramovich to Chelsea years before.
Saturday’s victory at Eastland was Manchester United’s third over the local rivals this season but in each City’s supporters and players have brought embarrassment on the club. From fans throwing lighters at Patrice Evra, to Carlos Tevez insulting Gary Neville after the United defender’s innocuous column, to Craig Bellamy thumping a restrained pitch invader.
Little else is expected of a club who’s “small minds” launched the season with the now infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ Tevez poster. Even Tevez dismissed the idea as little more than a cheap insult.
Led by the hapless ceo Gary Cook, City’s behaviour is not that of the ‘big’ club the owners wish it to become. It’s hardly possible to image Real Madrid or Barcelona wasting time with a media campaign designed to humiliate the other. Hatred may run deep on the Iberian peninsula but there are far bigger prizes at stake.
It’s a fact that Brazilian Kaká knew well when he rejected the club in favour of Madrid a year ago. Cook’s assertion that Milan “bottled it” an insult both to an organisation that remains a cut above and a player that could never sign until City joins the big boys. Both metaphorically, and in terms of Champions League qualification.
Then the dénouement, with City fans’ attack on Abdul Biram Diouf Saturday night. Supporters kicked, punched and left Diouf in a shrub after the game. The 28-year-old brother of United’s Senegalese striker wore his sibling’s Carling Cup final shirt at Eastlands, leaving no doubt about the attack’s motivation.
It marked a night of trouble in the city, with more than 20 arrests on both sides of the divide after post-match fighting.
Perhaps little surprise though with City fans engaging in now typical United-baiting during the match; singing songs about Munich and launching blow-up aeroplanes into the stands. Ignorance of their own club’s history perhaps but management has done little in the intervening years to rectify its supporters’ behaviour.
To fail to condemn is to tacitly condone, after all.
Sheihk Mansour should worry. After all what’s the point in a glamour buy if the club’s ceo, players and supporters bring shame on the family?
But perhaps the Greater Manchester Police sum up the difference between the two clubs better than any condemnation on this site. GMP report that one City fan, arrested on Saturday night, picked up and threw fresh horse manure at United supporters with his bare hands.
Elbow high in faeces while United fight it out for a 19th domestic title and a record fourth in a row.