Edin Dzeko’s recent move to Manchester City appears to have reopened old wounds for one half of Manchester. In his first interview upon arriving, his clever band of PR people just could not resist the temptation to reignite the ‘your city or mine’ debate with the other half. Dzeko’s comments of
“I have heard a lot about the fans and that most of the people from Manchester are Manchester City fans”
Was clearly a well thought out move to gain immediate favor with his new adorers whilst simultaneously riling his new rivals.
Dzeko’s comments were clearly no more than a bit of fun, but for the people of Manchester the debate remains very much alive.
First off, I am not from Manchester and have never lived there. I have flown out of there once on my way to Majorca, but that’s it. I don’t pretend to understand fully the debate, but I feel I qualify in some way to contribute by virtue of the fact that I am a rational human being who has lived in A city.
Why is this debate so passionate, especially in places like Manchester? I really have no idea, but here is what I would suggest.
Football teams were originally far more community oriented. They started popping up all over the country at the dawn of the 20th century as people from different groups, professions and communities came together to compete.
There was therefore a very real sense of identify associated with each and every club. Something to be proud of.
Times are very different now. Whether we care to acknowledge it, Manchester City are owned by Arabs and managed by an Italian. Manchester United are owned by Americans and managed by a Scotsman? Any remanent of identity is fast fading. Incidentally, I would be very curious to know if the ‘’Manchester City is the true club in Manchester’’ debate was raging during the 60’s and 70’s. Perhaps it was.
Manchester United are the best supported club in the world, but that is only down to some very clever branding and marketing which took place in the early 90’s. Having more supporters outside of Manchester does not reduce the number of supporters within.
But ultimately though, what does it really matter? If you held a gun to my head I would tell you that there are indeed more Blues in Manchester than Reds (despite this being impossible to prove). However football is now such a global enterprise that my answer is surely mute.
The premier league is a brand, and a highly successful one. Not a chairman in the league truly believes that the heart and soul of the club must be protected. It’s true, some clubs are much better run than others, but they all want more fans, because more fans mean more replica shirt sales, which mean bigger Christmases at the chairman’s home.
Football is no longer local, it is global. In time the attitude’s of the City fan’s, and Mr Dzeko’s, will catch up with the clubs ambition.
I hope so, for their sake.