March 10 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 16, 2011
Since they’ve struck oil I have thought of Manchester City as a huge, corporate machine devouring all in its path on the way to global football domination.
They have more money, more resources and more everything than anyone, anywhere. And after the game on Saturday I had no reason to change my mind, although from a supporter experience point of view there’s more to enjoy about going to the Etihad than there is to Old Trafford.
For once, Gemma and I were not on the Capital Canaries train trip, but travelled under our own steam (pun unintended). Gemma’s best pal Sofia, and her dad, Philip, are exiled supporters and have made the long journey to Manchester for the last few years so we joined up with them to travel from Euston.
We arrived at Manchester Piccadilly around 12.45pm, went to a cafe for some lunch and then walked the 30 minutes or so along the Manchester canal paths to the Etihad in the increasingly heavy rain. By the time we arrived everything was soaked and all I wanted was a warming coffee as opposed to a pre-match beer.
Around the Etihad there was a mini village of shops, drinking outlets and even a stage for a band. There was also a memorial garden where ashes could be scattered if a recently departed loved one has this as a last wish. All this, according to Philip, was the work of Garry Cook, the previous Manchester City chief executive. Despite the unfortunate way he left his post, Philip informed us that he had overseen a great deal of good work around the ground. I was certainly impressed with it all.
At around 2.15pm we took our seats in the stand and, whilst I watched the warm-up, Gemma read the programme. After finding a mistake in the NCFC edition last week (a bargain at a sports shop was now £17, having been reduced to £10!) she scoured the pages for errors and triumphantly pointed out that City had a new goalkeeper for the day, James Ruddy.
And to the game – which was as tough for City as we had all anticipated. All I can say about the first half is that the away supporters had an excellent view of proceedings, as almost all the play was in right in front of us.
Manchester City were an outstanding team, worked hard and passed it around well, had great movement off the ball – and so they should for £400m.
City battled hard, never stopped giving their all, but after half an hour the inevitable goal came, and Gemma and I were relieved we got into half-time only a goal down. I consoled myself with the thought that if Steve Morison had scored it could have all been so different, in a very half glass full sort of way.
At the start of the second half City had another early chance, didn’t take it and then chased the ball around for a few minutes.
Then disaster struck when an innocuous-looking free-kick from the inside left channel was not dealt with and it skipped past John Ruddy into the net. It was very similar to the goal that QPR nearly scored last week, just before half-time.
Soon it was 3-0, and the remaining 20 minutes was now looking like a very long time.
Then from a corner Morison gave us hope with a neatly-taken header and all I started to think was, “If we could nick another one the last few minutes could be very interesting”.
Unfortunately, my wildly optimistic hopes proved to be just that as City conceded a pair of late goals, which only served to emphasise the huge difference between the Premier League “haves” and “have-nots”.
We’ll have our revenge in the home game.
• If you would like the chance to report on a Norwich City game this season - home or away - please contact Peter Raven on email@example.com