Backs to UEFA

Backs to UEFA

After another round of Champions League fixtures we once again find criticism directed toward UEFA. My own contempt for the corrupt and hypocritical organisation is well noted. Now some Manchester City fans are canvassing for supporters to turn their backs during the Champions League anthem at the next three European games. Whilst I support any movement against UEFA and their ideology, City fans have to be clear on the reasons why they are turning their backs, and why they are choosing to do it now.

Every time I have written about Financial Fair Play the strong undercurrent has been a dislike toward UEFA. That particular system is anything but fair, they weren’t acting as caring overseers, the system wouldn’t even have prevented a Leeds or Portsmouth situation. It reeked of corruption, ensuring the status quo in football for the European “Big Boys.” They traversed the boundaries of sport and business, failing to ensure clarity or complete legality with either.

When they issued fines, this captured cash wasn’t distributed into grass root schemes, struggling lower league clubs, or even charities. It was fed back to the compliant clubs playing at the top European level. They should have already been filtering money from their vast profits, across all of Europe, to the smaller clubs that facilitate emerging players within the lower leagues. Instead of being a benevolent group they have edged ever closer to a Fascist regime bordering on evil Totalitarianism. They dangle high prize money for their premier competition whilst threatening handcuffs for those that can compete with healthy cash.

It’s only now, after the event and sanctions imposed on Manchester City and PSG, that UEFA have even considered clubs, such as Manchester United, facing questions over loans that form part of their finances. These help highlight that UEFA doesn’t care about fairness. In a democracy, argument and counter-argument are heard equally, then an agreed system is formed. UEFA rule with an iron-fist. Bully and ignore as they please. If they cared about the health of the sport, of the people within the game, they wouldn’t have allowed Poland and Ukraine to spend billions to host the European championships, then face ruin. There should be a moral obligation to protect clubs or national associations from such grotesque overspend. But as long as UEFA are dangling the carrot they’re hardly likely to tire of the tease.

It’s ruling with such an iron-fist which makes remarks made after the “behind closed doors” CSKA Moscow v Manchester City Champions League tie, all the more ridiculous. CSKA were the ones facing a punishment for racist behaviour. Yet, on the night, they somehow had around 600 fans in the stadium. As City captain Vincent Kompany asked: “You say no fans, all of a sudden you turn up and the team that has no fans is Man City. So who’s getting punished? Who’s being done for racism, Man City or Moscow?”


It’s almost a rhetorical question. Clearly the punishment also affected Manchester City, perhaps to a greater degree. I am not suggesting, nor is anyone associated with the club even as they launch a complaint, that the Moscow fans swayed the match. But the principle of the matter is what makes it note worthy. It’s almost a sick joke when UEFA claim there was no breach. That club delegations, media, security staff, UEFA and guests of sponsorship partners are allowed into behind closed door matches. It’s that last one on the list that tells the story: Sponsorship Partners. Greedy UEFA. Always money over morals.

They claim they can’t dictate who those guests are. They make the rules and shirk the responsibility all too often. If UEFA stated only people in pink shirts could enter, guess what, we’d all be wearing pink shirts or face being ejected from our seats. They obviously need clubs, media and security there. But they could have prevented guests of sponsors. They may have lost some cash, but is money from one game’s set of guests more important than a solid stance against racism?

UEFA No racism

To UEFA it probably is. This is an organisation that threatened action against players if they walked from the field of play during racist chants, then applauded that action when the world supported AC Milan for doing just that. They are so out of touch with public opinion and common decency that their judgement can no longer be trusted. City shouldn’t have been playing that came in Moscow in front of 600 CSKA fans. It should have been in a neutral country’s stadium filled to the rafters with Blues.  But they don’t really care about racism, half the time they come across as if the subject is an awkward annoyance to them; and they don’t care about Manchester City, we’re like the one-legged ginger step-child that needs glasses.

So as a City fan (I also happen to have been a step-child, ginger, and a wearer of spectacles) we face the decision to turn our backs when UEFA play their anthem. I agree with the sentiment. The debacle in Russia is the straw that has broken the camel’s back for many a Blue. However, I’m worried it puts City fans on dangerous ground. Surely the time for a stance against UEFA was at the first Champions League game. The droplets of faeces we’ve had on us this week are just spray from a larger, on-going, shower.

To make a stand now we risk looking bitter. That our disappointing result is more to do with the turning of backs than UEFA’s actions. Too much focus is placed on the Champions League. For me the measure of a team’s greatness is domestic success. When both Liverpool and Chelsea last claimed UEFA’s top prize they failed to secure a top four finish at home. However, the world sees it different. City’s owners see it different. Had City already secured a Champions League trophy, a stand against UEFA would hold much more weight. Instead there’s a risk our positive defiance will be pushed away with nonchalance.


Over the coming weeks we need to articulate all our grievances regarding UEFA to prevent our protest appearing two-faced. At the moment UEFA stand unopposed, everyone is bending to their rules, the rules bending further to support the evil regime. If people do take notice we need to have a clear message: That UEFA needs to change or be replaced entirely.


The Trouble with Touré

The Trouble with Touré

Certain things can’t be denied when it come to Yaya Touré. His talent is unquestionable. Last season he drove Manchester City to a league and cup double, scoring 24 goals in all competitions from midfield. He is also controversial and divides the opinion of loyal supporters. From missed birthday cakes to protracted transfers, he appears in the media for the wrong reasons, when it’d be more fitting if he was revered in the same way players like Messi and Ronaldo are. Or is this a stretch too far?

Before we go any further, I should make my personal thoughts regarding a few things Yaya clear. In spite of his performance last season, I would have happily seen him sold in the summer. A number of factors played into this. The obvious one was the way he allowed his agent to act unprofessionally and disrespectfully toward the club. It seems obvious they were either haggling for an improved contract or were seeing if they could manufacture a move away. He’d just had the season of his life so they assumed Yaya’s stocks were high, that they should cash in.

Of course, they didn’t get a move, and City held firm. These initial actions undid all of Yaya’s work gaining loyalty from the fans. I have no problem with players wanting to move on. As Sami Nasri noted when he left Arsenal, he wasn’t a fan, it’s just his career. I get that. I don’t expect everyone that pulls on the blue shirt to be a City fan. This doesn’t mean they can act in manner that wouldn’t be acceptable in another line of work. Yaya was unprofessional. This combined with the high wage, the fact he’s already 31, meant it wouldn’t have been a terrible move to balance the books the same summer we faced FFP fines and restrictions, by offloading a player that had stepped out of line.

The standard response here is to argue he is irreplaceable. Well, no man on the planet is irreplaceable. I’m not suggesting there is a like-for-like player out there. City would have needed to change the way the team plays. Formed a Plan B and C. Given the one dimensional tactics we adopt in the Champions League, this wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. Mentioning the Champions League, it is worth noting that Frank Lampard, the 36-year-old, warming-up for his American vacation, looked a level above regular City midfielders the night we played Roma. The only one comfortable at that level. So perhaps we shouldn’t place Yaya on that pedestal just yet.

Which brings us to the main niggle I hear at the ground, in the pub afterwards, and in groups and forums: The idea Yaya can’t be dropped/should be dropped. Some argue his moments of magic, which appear from nowhere and clinch big games, allow him to drift rather than put a shift in. That he looks laboured when he’s not. Others argue that no player should be guaranteed a place if their form continues to dip. I sit more on the fence with this one. At some point any player, regardless of stature or former contributions, should face the axe if they fail to deliver. For me, at this moment in time, Yaya is still one of the first names on the team sheet. The recent Aston Villa game is a good example of why he’s a worthwhile passenger to have along for the ride.

The idea of who your favourite player is should lend an idea to the damage Yaya has inflicted on his own legacy with the club. David White is my personal favourite. I know he’s not the best footballer I’ve seen play for the Citizens. But watching him burst off at pace, smash shots on goal, was like watching a superhero when I was younger. I know nostalgia plays its part there. It still breaks my heart, that Niall Quinn made the club’s Hall of Fame, and White didn’t.

MCFC White

As for the best player I’ve seen, the most talented, it has to be from the current crop. I think Sergio is a true world class talent, belonging in the upper echelons of the world elite. David Silva also rates highly; if he added more goals to his game it’d be hard to dismiss him. Yaya Touré should be above both of these though, in terms of contribution and evident talent. Yet, how many City fans would have him as their number one now?

There’s still time for the fans that criticise him to warm once again. The tarnished summer can be painted over with the gloss of further success. I don’t subscribe to the idea any dip in form is a loss of interest. Reneging on the agreement he wouldn’t attend the 2015 African Cup of Nations could be seen as a further effort to appear inflammatory, I suspect it’s just a change of heart. Also, the loss of his brother will be weighing heavy on him and affecting his actions. Such an experience often requires years of recovery.

Yaya hasn’t been given the recognition by external awarding bodies. Last season he was cruelly overlooked. It’s easy to see why that could breed a feeling of being unloved. It doesn’t excuse his actions over the summer, but as fans we should wipe the slate clean. If the professional critics fail to give him his dues, the best we can do is start sending back positive vibes from the stands.

Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday

Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday

From the tagline: Live Die Repeat, and a sneak at the synopsis or a trailer, we know that Tom Cruise’s latest offering is a Groundhog Day with guns. We also see that, just like Oblivion before it, it is set in the world of science fiction. Tom Cruise is the last genuine Hollywood star, in the sense, he believes his name alone can bring box office success, rather than relying on a famous or established franchise. Yet, recent figures show is star, at least in North America, could be fading. Edge of Tomorrow attempts to repeat his former glories.

It is hard to distinguish Cruise’s modern set of films in traditional terms. The movie makers would argue that the global markets play a larger role than yesteryear. That not breaking even at home doesn’t matter when foreign totals smash the production budget. And it seems that outside of North America the Tom Cruise product is still very strong. What makes receipts over personal popularity incomparable across markets is the way different cultures absorb trends. Whether some parts of the world still adore Tom the same, or if they’re more likely to listen to positive reviews from critics, is hard to ascertain.

What we can determine is that Edge of Tomorrow promised an intriguing idea. Why it failed to garner more attention in America is a puzzle to me. Perhaps some were concerned after the lukewarm response to Oblivion (a film I quite liked). Once buckled into the film, after twenty minutes have passed, it’s clear the intriguing idea is being delivered into a top quality film.

It could have been so easy to fall into action film clichés, played it safe or worse still, played it lazy, but Edge of Tomorrow never does this. It feels authentic, like it’s aware and confident of the feel and direction it wishes to take. It harks back to action films from the 80s that set genre defining tones. Sure, it nods its head to things that have passed before; however, it only does this because sometimes those ingredients are required.

Also, make no mistake: it is packed with action scenes. Unlike most modern action flicks these aren’t there as filler. Like Aliens, a benchmark for all shoot-em-up films, the action belongs. It is never there for the sake of it until we get to the next scene with dialogue. Indeed, this story requires the repetition of action scenes, it’s what drives Cruise’s character, Major William Cage, along. The characters do develop, too. And unlike regular modern films in this genre, we are offered subtleties over spoon-fed emotions and progression. Discreet lines pass between Cruise and Emily Blunt’s female lead that never get the spelled-out, typical Hollywood, resolution. We just know it was there.

Blunt Cruise

Certain design aspects pay homage to what has gone before. The combat suit springs to mind. That particular piece of kit also could remind a person of video games, Halo isn’t a million miles away. It’s fitting that a video game gets a mention; they operate on characters “re-spawning” to rejoin the action, not unlike this movie. Also, the author admitted to using video games as an inspiration as he completed the story.

Don’t allow this comparison to fool you or degrade the vision of the movie, it’s not a simple run-through of a film. Okay, it’s not complex either; it just has that correct feel. It is solid storytelling combined with valid action, as opposed to over the top CGI and words that mean nothing.

While it is easy to criticise Tom Cruise for chasing a legacy as the leading superstar over deep, challenging roles (Born on the Fourth of July was way back in 1989, there were only a few roles with depth in the 90s, nothing since), if he seeks out this sort of popular film his talent isn’t totally wasted.

Could the ending be better? Perhaps? But one feels this film is all about the journey, not the destination. And thankfully for Tom, he’s waking up in a tomorrow where he still can command top billing whilst distancing himself from the slips of recent yesterdays.

Cruise Top Gun