As you may remember, we have just moved house.
For some reason our internet provider can provide high speed access to our neighbour, but swears blind that fibre is not yet available in my area. Our TV is part of the internet package.
So, on Saturday morning I was hanging off the roof of our old place, dismantling my old satellite dish.
This was followed by drilling a few holes on the wall of the new place, lining the dish up roughly in the same direction as our neighbours dish, then a bit of trial and error “dish – wiggling” until we got maximum signal strength on the bars on the satellite decoder.
30 minutes before kick off I was on the phone, credit card in hand, dialing the customer service number on the back of my old satellite smart card, renewing my old expired subscription.
At quarter to 7 our time, up came the picture and out came the boys for what appeared to be a Tunisian 3rd division league match. Commentary in not-English.
Having felt particularly smug about getting the dish up and running so successfully, a little bit of the shine had just been taken off as I’d just renewed the subscription that I’d got with Al Jaziera Sports to watch the World Cup last year, and not the one with Abu Dhabi Sports, who cover the Premier League.
Another phone call and another credit card payment and the lads were trotting out onto the pitch with minutes to spare.
My darling other half decided that as I was going to be tied up with the Man City match, she would watch a DVD in the next room.
There followed what can only be described as a TV volume pissing contest.
What I found most irksome wasn’t the fact that she won, so much as she was watching a film with subtitles.
Last week I was accused by one reader of producing what he so eloquently described as a load of “self-indulgent shit”. I would think that it’s fair to assume that I won’t be receiving a Christmas Card from him this year. What stopped me from taking this too much to heart was that having slagged me off he said “please don’t post again”. A bit like a mugger saying please as he rips you watch off.
My mum always used to say “politeness costs nothing”. She also insisted that colour TV would never catch on.
Back to my admirer.
I think he made the assumption that I was bragging about something when I was in fact trying to use alternative paradigm to make a point about the Middle East. A point which at times has to be seen to be believed, and even then, it’s difficult to take it all in.
Robin Williams once said that if you had not actually seen Dubai the only way to picture it was to imagine that Las Vegas and Disney World had an illegitimate child. Close but still not quite there.
Take a look on t’interweb at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Or take a look at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel and you might get a hint at where I’m going. We’re talking about a Hotel that serves coffee with gold flakes in it, and if that doesn’t satisfy your craving for excess there’s a vending machine in the lobby where you can buy gold bars on your way out.
If you are at all into cars try doing a web search for the “Rainbow Sheikh” – otherwise known as Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al-Nahyan.
Not only does he have his own personal car museum but he has also built the world’s biggest mobile home, the world’s biggest pick-up truck, and, well, the world’s biggest “world” (after the real one, of course).
Presumably getting bored with vehicles he then took his bucket and spade out onto his own personal desert island and carved his name in letters half a mile high.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (note the last name again) is a little more reserved.
When he got bored he went out and bought Manchester City. Rumour has it he was disappointed as he actually thought he’d bought the City Of Manchester.
So, to say that the Al Nahyan family is wealthy, is a bit like saying that Mike Ashley has a knack for winding people up.
So, what with Nahyan’s own personal, family and corporate wealth plus a 100 million pound sponsorship deal from Etihad and another no doubt lucrative deal from Etisalat, City are hardly short of funds.
Who are Etisalat, you may well ask?
Etisalat are the UAE Government owned (spot the link?) telecommunications company in Africa and the Middle East, who provide me with my internet. Or more accurately, don’t.
To the match.
When the team with the most rampant front line play the team with the tightest defence then someone somewhere along the way is going to be disappointed. It’s that irresistible force, immovable object thing.
When you are playing against someone whose bench cost more than your entire squad, regardless of your defensive record, you need to brace yourself.
More Oil-Welled than Well-Oiled, lets not forget that City are where they are for a reason.
In the past I have moaned when we come off the pitch with a convincing win. I’ve moaned about the way we did it. I gave 6s where readers wanted to give 10’s just because we won, and I’ve given 6s to players who score match winning goals, simply because I didn’t think they even tried.
Today I have to go the other way. If ever there was a game where I wanted to give high scores away the same way Joey Barton gives away twitter quotes, then this was it.
Even the most diehard fan has to admit that not only were we totally outclassed and outmaneuvered, but you always had the impression that Man City not only had another gear or two if they needed it but somewhere in the back of your mind you thought at times that they might still even have the handbrake on.
But we were certainly not embarrassed.
Possession figures of 64-36 summed up our ability to effectively challenge (or not) and the ease with which City passed the ball around demonstrated an unwillingness on our part to get stuck in, but again there were positives in the individual performances that would make me more inclined to give 8s instead of 6s.
It’s a bit like watching your kid take a beating at Rugby when he’s just stepped up from the Colts to the Seniors. You know he wasn’t up to it but he tried his heart out and did his best.
City quite literally have the best players that money can buy but it took them two penalties to go three up. Yes we looked a bit dodgy at times, but we have all season. Plus, when you look at the drubbings that City have handed out elsewhere you get the impression that we might actually be deserving of our current position.
When Dan Gosling got the goal with just minutes to go they were sprinting back to the centre spot as if they actually believed they could do something.
Tim Krul – 6
Having said that I feel in generous mood Krul’s inability to get the ball upfield is becoming tiresome.
Danny Simpson – 7
A reasonable game. Loads of effort if not finesse.
Steven Taylor – 8
A rock. His worst moment was a slip that we can hardly blame him for. Probably slipped on something that oozed out of Balotelli. One of my favourite gripes recently has been the inability of our defence to boot the ball upfield as circumstances dictate. Nice to see Taylor has sussed it.
Fabricio Coloccini – 8
Continues to impress. If I was to complain about anything it is his borderline claims for offside where the hand goes up and he just stops. He actually bluffed a couple of results out of the officials, but someday it’s going to backfire.
Ryan Taylor – 7
Actually had a decent game apart from two hi–visibility cock-ups. Trying to block a shot in the box while doing a star jump was always going to end in tears but I’m in a happy place and think he still deserves a 7.
The incident where Richards got the goal was one of those “which foot first” things. But Richards’ finish was superb.
Sammy Ameobi -8
Once you get over the apparent ambling gait and concentrate on what he does with the ball I think you have to admire what Sammy does. He left a few of City’s finest in his wake more than a couple of times and at least had a couple of shots, however timid. He stepped up to the plate and should be proud of what he did. A bit more confidence and he could be very useful. He gets an 8 because he just stepped up from the Colts………
Danny Guthrie – 7
Will be disappointed if he has to take a seat on the bench when we get through the injuries that we have at the moment. Guthrie has seized his first team opportunity and it has to be a difficult decision for Pardew when everyone is fit.
Yohan Cabaye – 9
What can I say? Covered a huge amount of ground, particularly stepping in at the back as required. That plus some superb touches mean no hesitation giving him Man of the Match.
Jonas Guttierez – 8
Another workhorse performance, Jonas was back into the falling over and running into brick walls mode but did a good job shepherding Milner and was omnipresent……errr… in most places at least.
Hatem Ben Arfa -8
Good touches, good runs and hit the post. His FumsyCluck challenge to give away the second penalty warded off a 9, but even so he was impressive. You know how unlucky the team has been when you have to say “which” penalty.
Demba Ba – 8
Good performance and on another day could have maybe had a brace. The team in general seemed to be hanging back, so it was good to see Ba trying to wave the team forward.
He was never going to get 9 wearing those orange and yellow boots, but considering he didn’t score he certainly put the hours in.
Peter Lovenkrands – 6
Saw more of him when he was on the bench.
James Perch – 7
A couple of good balls but fairly innocuous
Dan Gosling – 7
The goal was about it, but what an “it” it was.
A couple of weeks ago at Stoke we closed them down quicker than a small business. We were on their toes every time they got the ball. At times we tried it against City but we ended up with gaping holes all over the place. So we decided to try something else. Not sure what it was. Any suggestions?
We tried playing with five across the back, then six, then a few of the crowd joined in.
Sammy and Ben Arfa were impressive as the “New Boys” but a good showing all round resulted in a superb effort.
Having seen what City have done to others you have to be a little more optimistic about Man U and Chelsea.
As the Sports Direct Arena debacle continues news has come out that suggests Ashley did everything he could to retain the old name.
Apparently he contacted the church and offered St James first refusal on the ground sponsorship deal, but he couldn’t provide Ashley with proof of funds, what with him being dead.
Hopefully this time next week Etisalat will have diverted some of their Manchester City Sponsorship and installed my internet connection.
Meanwhile, I have to go phone up Al Jaziera Sports and try to cancel a year’s subscription to the Tunisian 3rd division.
Sorry – a final thought. Just watched the Liverpool match. Is it just me or does anyone else out there feel an overwhelming urge to batter that smarmy smile off Suarez’s face?