Forza Manchester
May 09, 2012

The following article was published in The Star on May 13, 2012.

“Blue moon, you saw me standing alone. Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.”

In the shower, in the car, on the can, those seem to be the only words lingering in my head these past few days. Not as a celebration. Far from that. For nothing has been won yet.

But as a pacifier. A feeble attempt at calming myself down. Because 345,600 seconds from this point of writing, Manchester City will play the biggest game in the club’s history. And I’m nervous as hell.

Imagine the feelings of going out on a first date, getting your exam result, going into the operation theatre and calculating your tax return, all mashed into a blob of heavy matter stuck right smack in the middle of your chest; refusing to go away until the fat lady sings.

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating here but hey, some people do get goosebumps doing their taxes.

After an insane season of ups and downs, it has finally come down to this for the title contenders. We have been following each other’s trails and watched each other play other teams -- converting ourselves to hardcore fans of the each other’s opponents for 90 minutes. And we’ve cursed at the sight of each other grinding that odd win after an ugly performance on the pitch.

The mind-games played by both managers have been intense with one trying to push the right buttons and the other, playing things down and keeping his Italian feet on the ground.

In the case of this particular title race, those who say real champions don’t depend on other teams, are not entirely accurate. For here we are, heading into the final day of the season. Fighting to the end as only one of us shall prevail on May 13th. Lucky May 13th.

The title will stay in Manchester. That’s for sure. But which side?

Never short of optimism and chewing gum, Sir Alex Ferguson has already said that United fans may have “the biggest celebration of their lives” come this weekend. But before one could claim Fergie as getting ahead of himself, certain quarters of the Red Devils faithfuls had already printed “Champ20ns” t-shirts for sale in March, with eight games still to be played. So his timing wasn’t too far off.

Roberto Mancini, on the other hand, would still probably say it’s not over even if City wins the thing. The composure shown by the debonair gaffer and restraint shown by the players are nothing short of admirable. And it’s no mean feat. Usually verbose with their spelling-error laden posts, the players have been rather quiet both on Twitter and in the media.

Maybe they were handed a memo from the club’s upper echelons. About how much winning the title would mean to the fans.

44 years is a long time. Tears have been shed, and blood has been bled. As bad as that sentence sounds, most City fans who have endured the darker days of Creaney and Negouai would know what I’m talking about. (“Who?!” asks a newer fan.)

And over the years, the club has seen managers of many forms and shapes come in and out of the organization. One of them, may have a point to prove on Sunday. City’s opponent, Queens Park Rangers, is managed by an ex-United player who was allegedly ruthlessly dismissed from the club even after a stellar performance of breaking the record for the most number of consecutive draws in a season, or something like that. So it won’t be easy.

With a superior goal difference, the bookies are raving about the odds being on City’s side. But as a fan who has learned all the life lessons that the club could offer, I am not counting my chickens just yet.

So I’m with Mancini. It’s not over ‘til it’s over.

Come on City.


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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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