There was probably only ever to be the one outcome in the Manchester City versus Newcastle United fixture, but yet again the away allocation was a complete sell out, unlike the home allocation (allegedly).
This last week and the takeover on / off ‘revelations’ from Mike Ashley (lies) and the Amanda Staveley interview, have left me feeling more hopelessly in limbo than ever, flatter than a steam rollered witch’s teat.
I can’t be the only one who has had that sinking feeling again and it is this fact that makes it even the more impressive that anyone can drag their sorry backsides out of bed at all, never mind head off into no man’s land on a guaranteed suicide mission!
However, like the obvious punishment perverts we are, we return for more! And like all good parents who have had their fingers repeatedly burned like a moth on a black and white lightbulb – it’s time to share that pain with the wee cubs!
So regardless of what lay ahead, a special day as my nine year old Joe attended his first away game full of the innocence of youth, not yet minced into the cynical gristle of age.
Four of us went down: two dads, two sons and I drove. No beers for me. Just kets, crisps and sausage rolls – off my nut on E numbers. Rave on.
Up over the M62 and the sleet and snow started, no surprise as it was like ice station zebra outdoors and it always effing rains down there in Gotham doesn’t it?
Parking a tenner, yes a tenner and then togged up for the conditions.
If no one has been to the Etihad, it’s like it’s landed from Mars on a vast patch of Tarmac and concrete in the middle of an industrial estate.
There is plenty of stuff going on around the outside of the ground, very friendly for the kids, but it feels very manufacured. Thats probably because it is, and sadly always will, with these new purpose built Stadiums.
After being bollocked for putting Chinese curry on my fish and chips (whats wrong with that?) at Maine Road cafe – kick off looms. (Chippy recommended compared to the expensive gash inside the confines of Skull island across the road – not a euphemism).
Fanzones outside with big screens and New Order pumping out and caricature mancunian accented speakers try to force feed you into feeling all ‘Madchester’.
Pre-match in the ground on the big screens and tannoy, another sickly-sweet ode to Manchester City to lights, moving pictures and poetic narration is given to build this whole thing up. OK man, I get it, I can see where you are going but it’s so stomach churning being force-fed this guff and it really is laboured.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Manchester scene back in the day and my best teenage years were spent listening to the Stone Roses, New Order, Oasis and the Smiths.
Maybe my teenage self would have lapped it up, sunhat on, and waddled around like Liam Gallagher on mogadon?
Man City have got one of the best teams I have ever seen, but they’ve not got the soul that they had at Maine Road, and they know it.
Trying too hard, most definitely.
Time for one final pep talk with young Joe before going over the top of the trench to face the machine guns of Manchester City.
No matter what, it’s boys on tour and we are going to enjoy it! At least I think that’s what I said, as it had dropped to about minus three degrees and me gob had frosted over.
Let’s get this straight, we are on two different footballing planets right now. The first half was like a blur of Sky Blue and white. Was like peeking through a keyhole and being repeatedly jabbed in the eye with a chopstick. Maybe that’s why the stewards all wore safety glasses?
Hard watching, but the away fans in magnificent voice as ever, let’s you forget almost about what’s going on.
Backs against the wall could describe it, but it would be an understatement, it was like the Alamo, but rewritten as catapult slingers versus a team of terminators from the future.
But short of Rafa turning water into wine, he has us set up very difficult to beat and we defended magnificently. Last ditch mind – but in the face of a front seven it was needs must.
A disallowed goal for Man City brought cheers, and the eventual first goal brought some prolonged argie bargy on the border between the good and the bad and the ugly (our seats only a few yards distance away from the City fans).
Makes me laugh the pantomime between the two lines facing off with only a metal handrail and three zero hour contract students keeping the baying mob at hand. Grrrr I’m crazy.
One nil at half time, still in it and compared to other teams that have gone there and got completely banjo’d – good on them.
However, we needed to get some kind of act together in midfield and final third to stand any chance of holding out. Big Joselu had two chances to slip someone in with relatively simple balls and blew his beans – but glimmers of them giving a chance.
Another half time pep-talk and desperately trying to remove the new swear words written all over the bairn’s face in his knowing grin and confirming that Mams and Grannies must never know of these things!
We started brighter and the away end got louder again. Think the half time pints had upped the volume.
So much so, I might never stop singing ‘Southgate’s got his number, he’s taking him to Russia- JAMAAL LASCELLES!’
Still the noise ramped up and our bare faced lying scumbag of an owner got it next. Rumoured to be in the ground before the game, and I hope he was, as he got pelters. Deservedly so and that discussion rages on. (#Ashley Out!).
A soft pen comes and it’s Aguero (who else?) adding his second of the night and seven millionth career goal against us. At least it seems like it.
Up steps our shining light in Jacob Murphy, a ball played out from the back (poss Clark) and he ran 40 yards and then dinked it over the keeper! Get in man 2-1!
Cue a spell of pinball football insanity with Diame charging around like a headless maniac in the box and their keeper flapping like a budgie, making three or four saves on the trot. Easily could have been two each.
For all City are footballing freaks of nature, they do give teams chances.
Don’t get me wrong, they could have scored as many as they liked, if not for the brilliant defending of Lascelles, Clark and goalkeeping of Darlow. (Do we really need another unknown keeper bringing in? Not for me).
At this point it’s fever pitch, but we are undone by a bit of Sané brilliance and typical finish by Aguero for his hat-trick – his seven million and first goal against us.
Game over. Or nearly. We still had a couple of chances, substitute Gayle missing another headed chance to the collection and Murphy with some more jinking runs.
Final whistle, no disgrace in defeat. An expected result, but a gutsy performance matched by the performance in the away stand.
Good luck to Manchester City and their billion dollar quest for greatness and acceptance.
They are striving to be the best they can be and I can’t knock it. In my opinion, with players like De Bruyne (what a footballer by the way), Silva, Sané and Aguero they could win the Champions league.
Bigger fish for NUFC to fry on and off the field. Back out of dodge with dignity intact and future regular away fans thawing out nicely in the back of the car, not in shell shock, but still singing ‘JAMAAL LASCELLES!’.
Some day we will have a club and an owner to match the fans. What a fantastic club and day that will be.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Manchester City 3 Newcastle 1
Newcastle: Murphy 67
Man City: Aguero 34, 63 (Pen), 83
Possession was Man City 81% Newcastle 19%
Total shots were Man City 21 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Man City 9 Newcastle 4
Corners were Man City 18 Newcastle 0
Referee: Paul Tierney
Darlow, Manquillo (Yedlin 66), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hayden, Murphy, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Perez 64), Joselu (Gayle 76)
Elliot, Haidara, Merino, Ritchie
Crowd: 54,452 (Newcastle 3,000)
(Read instant fan/writer reaction to the Man City game HERE)
(To read the player ratings by fans and add your own go HERE)
(Alan Shearer explains in simple language why Newcastle fans want rid of Mike Ashley – Read HERE)
(Pep Guardiola congratulates Newcastle on getting over the halfway line…once – Read HERE)
(Read what Rafa had to say about the match AND transfers HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @JamieSwan1