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Published on March 2nd, 2015 | by Ian Cheeseman


“What makes a supporter?” | Ian Cheeseman

What is a supporter supposed to do when things aren’t going as well as you would want? This is one of those times for Manchester City. It’s not the same as it was in the days when there was a split between those who believe supporters are there to support, and those who believe they can be as critical as they want. Those days came to a head when Peter Swales was the Chairman and the Supporters Club decided to back the Chairman, and those who didn’t want to, broke away to form the Independent Supporters Association.

I detect a split in opinions right now too. There is a growing number who believe the manager has to go, and there are those who point back to last season’s success and City’s recent habit of coming from behind in title chases, and plead for calm, arguing that fans have short memories.

I’m a journalist but I’ve never hidden from the fact that I’m a fan too, and I believe fans should be allowed to express their views and, of course, I agree with some and disagree with others, just like you. Although my job, on air, is to ask questions rather than give them, I too have views.

I’ve expressed them in these blogs as the season has progressed, and after two defeats in a week for the Blues, they’re bound to sound negative, but they’re also due to the circumstance we find City in.

I love Manuel Pellegrini’s football philosophy. Attacking, creative football is much better to watch than a  destructive, negative way of playing, but when results are not going right, it’s hard work, commitment and attitude that jump to the top of a supporter’s priorities, and that’s why players like James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta generally jump to the top of the list of players that escape criticism when the going gets tough.

When looking at the bigger picture, though, football is really quite simple. Quality will always rise to the surface. Here are my questions, and I don’t claim to know the answers; they baffle me too.

I’m going to list a few of them, in no particular order (as they claim on X Factor!)

  • Against Barcelona, why were there well over £100 million of Pellegrini signings on the bench? Did he not have faith in Mangala, Fernandinho, Bony, Lampard, Navas and Sagna? Only two of his players started the game – Fernando and Demichelis.
  • Why did City start with two up front against Barcelona & Liverpool? In both games City were outnumbered in midfield. Edin Dzeko is a finisher, he’s very good at it, but adds little else to the team.
  • Why does the City manager change the two central defenders so frequently? I can understand (to some extent) why the fullbacks in a 3-5-2 system are rotated, but not central defenders.
  • Why is Vincent Kompany not hitting the levels he was a year ago? Is it because of the above, or is it something else?
  • Why did City risk negative publicity for signing and extending the stay of Frank Lampard but have hardly used him? (3 Premier League starts, and diminishing use as a substitute) Why was Lampard not used more when Yaya Toure was away?
  • Why was Stevan Jovetic left out of the Champions League squad rather than Lampard? The City manager has clearly decided Lampard is not fit enough to start games, and he joins New York in the summer. Jovetic (rightly or wrongly) feels like he’s been cast aside and looks like he’s no longer part of the group; demotivated.
  • Why play Silva and Nasri so far apart on the pitch, when they always perform better closer together?
  • Why spend so much on Bony, who was presumably signed for THIS season, when he was going to the Africa Cup of Nations at such a crucial time and then not start him during the first three games he is available? By the time he starts a game, the season might effectively be over.
  • Why were Milner & Fernando paired in central midfield against the midfield “riches” of Barcelona – they’d hardly played together in that position and Milner rarely plays in central midfield?

I could ask many more questions – that’s the trouble, these slumps open up the debate and bring things to a head – or do you still believe City will catch Chelsea and win the title this season?

There’ll be some “supporters” who still believe that, but you CAN be a true supporter and have a view, even a negative opinion. It’s better to “agree to disagree” from time to time than go through that uncomfortable split the Supporters Club did for a while. Thankfully, those groups are back together now.

Surely a healthy, passionate but respectful debate is the way forward – it’s always the way forward, in all walks of life!

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6 Responses to “What makes a supporter?” | Ian Cheeseman

  1. david roberts says:

    I think we have been poor for a good few games now & MP cant/wont sort it out. he needs to pick a team & stick with it, not keep changing it every game. that’s why, imo, Vinnie has struggled. he changes the defence from 1 game to the next. every time MP makes subs why is toure never taken off. its not as if he does a great job all the time. why buy bony & not use him. does he actually sign the players or is it done above him.. we need to win our next 4 games against the teams in the lower half of the prem, who need the points themselves for different reasons to ours. if things don’t improve theres a chance we could not even finish top for, which would be disastrous for the club with FFP around.

  2. Jim says:

    Re: Jovetic v Lampard, wasn’t it a non-homegrown that had to be left out?

  3. Bob Fasoli says:

    All down to MP’s incompetance, that is what you are saying Ian and I agree totally with you. When we find ourselves agreeing with Gary Neville rather than supporting our own manager, something is dreadfully wrong. We are obviously going to get knocked out of the Champs League unless a miracle happens (I don’t think even Merlin can conjure that up). I am really worried the Premier League could end up Chelsea; Arsenal;United and maybe even Liverpool above us. Finishing without a Trophy will probably get MP the sack, never mind not qualifying for the Champions League. MP watch out for men on Camels…..

  4. Mike Sheppard says:

    I don’t think there’s a City fan who doesn’t want to see a change in Manager. That said, the timing has got to be right? If as most reports suggest Pep Gardiola is the man the Board really want there could be an issue if it is correct that he’s not available until 2016. But, I wonder if he was the right man and he felt the same way about City why didn’t he join after leaving Barcelona?

    The other thing that is wrath pondering is if FFP lives on beyond next season or is ruled unlawful. The one element that I believe is wrong with FFP is that it makes no distinction between money loaned to clubs and money gifted. One can lead to all sorts of problems while the other should be encouraged.

    I share Ian’s concerns and agree with all his questions and like him I din’t know what the answer is. Its complicated…

  5. Matt Woolfenden says:

    the answer to the Lampard/Jovetic question is pretty easy, Lampard is home grown.

  6. Steve halsall says:

    Ian some great questions posed there … My take on it is that MP is he’ll bent on playing 4-4-2 whenever he can , however we simply don’t have the personnel to play that formation effectively against the top teams , that will press and constantly pressure you for the ball . When the oppostion are in possession defensively we are lightweight or to be honest lazy , 4-4-2 requires a team to defend from the front , it simply doesn’t happen with dzeko , nasri , silva & aguero , I don’t they’ve got a telling tackle between them , so the inevitable happens and you end up with a big void in the middle of the park and our back four under pressure , my concern is that he changed it to 5 in the middle midway through the second half , surely it must of dawned on him before that , that we weren’t going to get the desired result staying 4-4-2 ?

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