We’ll call it the Skyblues paradox. While they would sell father, mother and the porridge recipe of grandma to finally win the cup with big ears, Manchester City supporters have a very special relationship with this competition. Or rather with its organizer, UEFA. For several years, in fact, City fans have made a habit of booing the Champions League anthem before every home game, and Wednesday’s encounter against PSG should be no exception.
Even if Mauricio Pochettino, who is said to be getting closer and closer to joining United’s enemy, should also be entitled to his little personal dedication. But after years of whistles against Ceferin and its institution, some believe that the time has come to put an end to this clumsy folklore. So, to boo or not to boo? That’s the question.
Anger in three acts
Before settling the debate, let’s first take a tour of the block in a DeLorean to return to the origins of the “boo”. The Etihad’s boos were long believed to be just souring after UEFA’s attacks on Man City in the many Financial Fair Play cases. “Nenni” cuts us off Kevin Parker, the general secretary of the official group of City supporters. “It goes back much longer than that,” he assures us. In reality, the anger of the Skyblues rose crescendo from 2012 and was done in three acts.
- Act I, the two weights, two measures, which does not pass with the Citizens
In 2012, UEFA first drew the wrath of City fans after two controversial disciplinary decisions. When the Skyblues were fined 30,000 euros for a trivial story of players being late (one minute) on returning from the locker room during a Europa League match against Sporting, FC Porto was only fined 20,000 euros for the cries of monkeys of some of these supporters against Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré, during a Porto-City disputed a month earlier at the Estadio do Dragoes.
- Act II, the point of no return
During the 2014-2015 season, it was a C1 match at CSKA Moscow that definitely set things on fire. This meeting was to be played behind closed doors (again for a story of monkey cries against Yaya Touré), but things did not go exactly as planned. While UEFA had refused to reimburse Skyblues fans who had bought their plane tickets, match tickets and hotel rooms (before the decision of the closed session was recorded), it finally authorized some 650 CSKA supporters to attend the meeting, which the supporters of the Citizens have never digested.
- Act III, the UEFA delegate gives a layer
A few weeks after CSKA-Gate, during a match against Sevilla FC, when the boos were getting bigger and bigger at the Etihad, the fourth referee reported this to his superiors. “Even if no sanction was taken to sanction the boos, it hardened the position of City fans against the European body”, confides Dominic Farrell, author of a recent article on the subject in the Manchester Evening News.
“It doesn’t make much sense today”
In his paper, this Mancunian journalist explains that it may be time to move on. On the other hand, unlike Kevin Parker, he admits that some supporters also whistle in protest against the UEFA sanctions taken against Manchester City within the framework of the FPF. “In fact, there are so many different reasons that you end up getting a bit lost in them. Each supporter to his own and, on arrival, it gives the impression that the message is a little diluted. And then, at the beginning, the whistles were really loud, it added a real special atmosphere in the stadium. Now it’s more of a token thing that some fans use before a game. Against Brugge, this season, the boos more or less died down halfway through the anthem, it doesn’t make much sense anymore”.
“Me, personally, I don’t whistle,” Kevin Parker tells us. But I think the fans have the right to make their own choice. Who knows, maybe the boos will stop when UEFA get their house in order.”
But the “boos” are not everything, there is something else. If he respects the choice of whistlers, Pep Guardiola complained at the start of the season of the general lack of atmosphere and the low attendance on the evenings of Champions League matches at home. Against Leipzig, in September, they were only 38,000 in a stadium that could hold 55,0000. It is true that the club is regularly mocked by opposing supporters for the atmosphere of Ehpad which would reign at the Etihad. For Dominic Farrell, “this reputation is unfair”.
“We forget how loyal and numerous City fans were at the stadium when the club was stagnating in the lower divisions in the 1990s, when Ferguson’s Manchester United were on top of the world. But with the takeover of the club in 2008 [par le fonds souverain des Emirats arabes unis], it aroused the resentment of the supporters of the other clubs and it did nothing to help this bad reputation ”. According to him, we could make the same observation during certain matches at Anfield or Old Trafford.
The club is trying to remedy the problem
A point of view entirely shared by Kevin Parker. “Of course it can happen that the atmosphere is not crazy but, during big matches, especially at night as is the case in the Champions League, the atmosphere can be really very good, he swears. he. And then, if we are sometimes a little silent, it is because we are captivated by the fantastic game offered by the team of Pep Guardiola ”. Hit. Despite everything, a little more atmosphere would not displease some, like Ed Sheeran, an unconditional Skyblues fan. During the first leg, at the end of September in Paris, the singer was captivated by the incandescent atmosphere of the Parc des Princes.
“I’m going to see a lot of football in England, but I’ve never seen this, PSG fans are crazy! They had smoke bombs, they were jumping and singing. I said to myself: “Ok it’s just for the beginning”. But they did that for two hours! A Tuesday night! That is to say, these guys were at work in the morning. It’s very impressive”. According to Dominic Farrell, the City club is trying to remedy this. In particular, it has created a special area in the stadium so that the group of “1894” supporters can “make tifos on cup nights of Europe”. “The one before the match against Bruges, punctuated by a song from Oasis, was really cool”. The best thing is that we make up our own mind. See you on Wednesday evening, then, for judge on the spot.