Early Doors

Football’s not much fun, is it?

Early Doors

At twenty-to four yesterday, this Manchester City fan confirmed what Early Doors has long suspected - it's not much fun supporting a good football team.

As Luke Moore headed Swansea into the lead at the Liberty Stadium, our subject almost immediately started sobbing, his face creased in a picture of anguish.

This, you have to hope, was not an acceptance that City's title bid was doomed to failure.

It seemed more to ED like an instant, gut reaction to the tension and agony of not only having a chance of winning something, but actually being expected to do so.

This is City's most successful season in decades, and yet it has reduced a grown man to tears some two months and 10 games before the end of the Premier League campaign.

There he was, in his replica shirt with the Champions League logo obscuring his Kaka tattoo, and yet he just slumped there, thinking: "This is horrible."

It was probably more fun when City were down in the third tier, battling the likes of Wrexham and Macclesfield.

And it only promises to get worse. Just how will the poor bloke be feeling when United visit the Etihad Stadium at the end of April?

ED has long noted just how unhappy most football fans seem, and that stems from ludicrously unrealistic expectations.

There is something pleasantly reassuring about bumbling along in mid-table, even if you yearn for a bit more excitement. The problem is that, with excitement, comes increasingly, suffocating pressure.

If City win the title, it will not be an arrival at some glorious destination. They will merely be fulfilling what is expected of them. And next season they will have to do it again, only this time with a decent Champions League run.

Alex Ferguson has often talked about how quickly the joy of victory dissipates, and all that is left is to go and do it again.

You may remember the ridiculously hubristic documentary 'Beyond The Promised Land' charting Manchester United's fortunes after winning the treble in 1999.

It turns out that life beyond the promised land was much like life before it, only with more Peter Kenyon prattling about the far-eastern market.

Even United, who have made it their business over two decades to inflict misery on others, do not boast a fanbase of entirely satisfied customers. Only two Champions Leagues in 20 years? Bit of a poor return, that. Pick it up, lads.

For what it's worth, ED still makes City narrow favourites for the title. They trail by a point and have a marginally harder run-in, but they have better goal difference and play United at Eastlands.

And crucially, City just have a better squad. One that, unlike their more unstable fans, does not look likely to crumble under the strain.

Is Liga and Champions League winner Yaya Toure likely to get flustered? How about World Cup winner David Silva? No, didn't think so.

And if they do win? Yes, well done, that's very nice and all. But don't you think that Premier League would look nicer with a European Cup sitting next to it in the trophy cabinet?

That's football. Every time it looks like you're about to achieve something, the bar gets raised and true satisfaction remains tantalisingly out of reach.

No wonder that, for some people, football is the crying game.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Luis Suarez: "Yes I could go to Paris (Saint-Germain), like many big teams. There are many big clubs with such a reputation that want to build a top team and Paris is one of those teams that is recruiting to strengthen. I would love if (Diego Lugano and me) could play together."

Rumourmongers, start your engines...

FOREIGN VIEW: Steaua Bucharest plan to offload every foreign player on the Romanian club's books after the end of the season and build a squad made up entirely of locals.

"I want to see a team built entirely of Romanians; that's my intention," flamboyant Steaua owner Gigi Becali said.

"(Argentinean) Pablo Brandan has already left to join a Chinese club, the contracts of (Portuguese) Geraldo Alves and (Bulgarian) Valentin Iliev will not be extended after the end of the season and (Montenegrin) Stefan Nikolic will also leave."

Steaua famously won the European Cup in 1986, beating Barcelona in the final in Seville, with coach Emerich Jenei not using a single foreigner in the tournament.

"There were only Romanians in the team in 1986 and they won the European Cup, so why should we pay high salaries to foreign players and not win anything?" said European Parliament member Becali.

"You'll never see us being like CFR Cluj," Becali added. Portuguese Jorge Costa, coach of second-placed CFR Cluj, can rely on 18 foreign players this season.

Becali, 53, a former shepherd known for his charity actions on behalf of the poor and local Orthodox churches, faces six years in jail for trying to bribe players and officials from another team on two occasions in 2006 and 2008.

COMING UP: Arsenal v Newcastle in the Premier League kicks off at 20:00 UK time, and a thoroughly entertaining match it promises to be, too. Unless you support either team, of course.

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