You will have to take my word for it that this morning I was in the process of writing about what I expected to be the absolute futility of tonight’s semi final first leg of the League Cup between Manchester City and Burton Albion. Sadly, work got in the way and my post work time blew away in a whirlwind of activity. I felt this morning that Manchester City would go through to the final with a 14-0 advantage over two games. It looks like I could be right, but I have to be honest: I feel utterly dispirited by the final score.
I watched only the last few minutes on Sky when the score was 8-0, seconds before City made in nine. The City crowd, drunk on Abu Dhabi billions, roared “We want ten!” As displays of mocking and arrogance go, I had rarely seen or heard anything like it. Burton Albion, a small club from the third tier in English football, had not only been heavily beaten, they were humiliated.
The Sky commentators and pundits are gasping in masturbatory wonder at City’s ‘brutal’ display, with orgasms appearing in the form of ever more hysterical superlatives. But what were they expecting?
This was not an equal contest, other than numbers on the pitch. Pep Guardiola is probably the best coach on the planet, but when the best coach is handed unlimited funds to buy the best players on the planet, this is what can happen.
I was embarrassed. Embarrassed at how football had served up such a ghastly spectacle. A ghastly spectacle brought about by the vast gulf in money between the elite teams and everyone else. When the final whistle went, I felt totally flat.
“Was this mission accomplished for Pep Guardia, he wanted to kill the tie tonight?” asked the generic Sky presenter. What sort of fucking question is that? Probably the wealthiest football ‘club’ on earth taking a nine goal advantage to the second leg of a semi-final. “Was this mission accomplished?” I despaired.
I know it’s probably just me, but I couldn’t share in the euphoria gushing out of the Sky studio. I watched the Burton players trudging off the pitch, heavy-legged, humbled and humiliated, shaking hands with opponents who each earn a million quid a month. This was not a football match: it was a football mismatch.
It’s certainly another nail in the coffin of the game I once loved and worshipped. Everywhere I look, except oddly enough the national team, I see a sport I don’t really understand anymore. Tonight’s game was a waste of time. And if the League Cup stays like it is, here’s the future. No thanks.
As ever, Guardiola himself stayed the right side of the line when the game was over. Whilst I find the club he works for utterly repellent, there was no gloating, just humility, decency and class from the manager. That’s the only good thing I can say about Manchester City. The rest I thought was hideous.