Smells Like Team Spirit – 5th January 2011

So, as we enter 2011 the race for the Premier League title is hotting up with as many as five teams realistically in with a chance of being top of the pile in May. As a Manchester City fan I am thrilled to see my team’s transformation from Division 2 Play-Off Finalists to serious contenders for the top prize in English football in just over 10 years. However, whilst I am enjoying the, on occasion, brilliant football and the stars on show, I am becoming increasingly disillusioned by the intense, negative media coverage that City receive.

It’s important to stress  I wholly acknowledge that due to vast sums of money that have been, and continue to be invested, into the club, inevitably brings pressure to succeed. And rightly so. Yet, it seems that since the beginning of the season the media coverage and scrutiny of footballing “professionals” and the sporting media has become increasingly vicious, unfounded and ultimately pathetic.

Of all of the scorn poured on City the most feeble trend that has emerged is too attack the clubs’ team spirit. I use the word trend carefully as there is no doubt in my mind that cynics will take another angle of attack when the “team spirit” tactic has run its course. Examples being, the Nigel de Jong witch hunt of October, the Carlos Tevez saga of December.

Now, exactly how does one define team spirit? Is there a measure to calculate this? Perhaps performances on the pitch would be the best indicator? No! Seemingly the opinions of certain footballing “professionals” such as Tony Pulis, Tim Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Alan Hansen carry more weight in the eyes of many. Darren Fletcher has been quoted as saying “I think maybe the team spirit and the togetherness is still to come”. What do you mean Mr Fletcher?

Fletcher and said professionals have made no bones about lambasting City alleged lack of team spirit suggesting a team cannot be successful without it. Surely, performances on the football pitch would be a more reliable indicator of team spirit than opinions of so called professionals. Take Tony Pulis’s definition of team spirit. Does that result in mid-tbale mediocrity along with a consistent dose of dull football? I am not sure I want team spirit  at City if that is the result.

Couple these types of attack with the newspaper hype and footballing pundits “expert insight” (namely Alan Hansen- seemingly a spiritual leader for all of those who love to hate Man City), the effect suggests City are on the brink of relegation, riddled with debt and heading for non-existence. On the contrary, City sit second in the Premier League (at the time of writing) and as a result are genuine title contenders for the first time in my life.

Not that I profess to be an expert on team spirit, in fact far from it, as I am not privy to the internal workings of Man City but I suggest that due to City’s league position and performances this season that team spirit is good, if not excellent. That is if such a thing exists. I suspect most footballers, managers and pundits that have made of point of criticizing City do not have the intellect to pass comment on something concrete, like performances on the pitch, but have instead jumped on the bandwagon which is driven by some moron from the Sun newspaper, I suspect.

Of all the negativity directed towards City I take most of it with a pinch of salt. Yet, the ‘team spirit’ tactic is the most irritating and pathetic. It is such an abstract argument with no weight whatsoever which is evidently born out of envy and cynicism. Quite frankly it is getting boring. It is like a broken record and the bandwagon is full.

Therefore, I suggest to you who have read my, I suspect, outspoken opinion to appreciate City for what they are: a team of good players, who play attractive football (on occasion) and are looking to finally break the tiresome ‘Big Four’ era of the Premier League. It is time for a change.

Only time will tell, but I have a strong suspicion that once Man City do break through and start winning trophies again, they will become media darlings (like Chelsea 2005) which will just go to show how pathetic sports journalism has become.

Words by Rob Toole

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