Man City win another title but they will never earn Liverpool’s authenticity

·3-min read
Man City win another title but they will never earn Liverpool’s authenticity

The Premier League's biggest signing of the summer was agreed before the curtain had come down on the season. Manchester City last week announced the capture of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

On the face of it, the deal should be exciting and even romantic. Joining City is a homecoming of sorts for Haaland, who was born in England and is returning to the club best associated with his father, Alf-Inge.

English football never had Cristiano Ronaldo in his prime and Lionel Messi is almost certain not to play on these shores, so the arrival of one of their natural successors in the Premier League, with his best years still ahead, should be intoxicating for most supporters.

Yet, the deal is not in the least bit romantic and is less thrilling for the English game than ominous; the only suitable reaction - for non-City fans at least - is a sigh and a shrug.


That apathy is an increasingly common response to City's relentless quest for perfection and growing dominance of the Premier League leads to bigger questions about the impact of state-backed sportswashing projects on the game.

Pep Guardiola has grown frustrated at what he perceives as a lack of appreciation for his magnificent side, particularly in comparison to Liverpool - and he is not wrong.

But it would be worth Guardiola asking himself some bigger questions about why so few people actually care passionately about City.

Put simply, it is harder to be emotionally invested in a club when the odds are so overwhelming stacked in their favour by virtue of pouring a state's resources into the sport. While impressive and a result of more than wealth alone, City's sporting achievements appear lacking in both jeopardy and the sense of strife and a journey which characterises, say, Liverpool's successes.

It would be unbearable for many to see Liverpool win another title, but City are easier to ignore

Guardiola has also claimed that most would prefer Liverpool to win the league. On this, he is surely mistaken, although not for reasons he would care to admit. The majority of rival supporters would prefer City to be champions, purely because their unparalleled financial might makes their feats seem inevitable and even meaningless.

While it would be unbearable for many to see Liverpool win another title, let alone a quadruple, City are easier to ignore.

They inspire so few real emotions in many supporters, they have actually become a useful vehicle in denying rival clubs the title. Manchester United fans are largely happy that City stopped Liverpool winning another league; Arsenal fans supported them over Tottenham in the 2019 Champions League quarter-final.

Liverpool understandably antagonised with their slogan 'This means more', but in the context of their rivalry with City, there is truth to it.

There is an authenticity to Liverpool which makes them emotionally arresting, and that simply does not exist with their title rivals, so Guardiola has it right in one sense (that a majority seem more appreciative of Jurgen Klopp's side) but wrong in another (that this results in a desire for Liverpool to better City).

City inspire a kind of apathy of hopelessness in most supporters, which is obviously not a healthy attitude on the part of football fans.

This is one of the most alarming consequences of sportswashing projects: they are robbing the game of the meaning and emotion on which it is built.

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