There are 6,912 languages and dialects in the world. Of these 6,912 languages, it is commonly known that the English language possesses the largest amount of words. Of these words, William Shakespeare invented 1,700 – or at least recorded their first use, ensuring eloquence and a free-flowing lucidity when using the language to describe or explain something. Why is this important? Because not even the bard himself could find the right letters to construct a comment which justifies the events the football world has just witnessed. Not a single word from the wordiest language on our planet could accurately describe the scenes which unfolded on Sunday. It was like the football had entered a destructive black hole and was being ripped to shreds; squashed and stretched; warmed and froze; directed by a perfect voice in a beautiful, manic, sporty serenade.
Chaos reigned supreme. Words are rendered meaningless. Your body becomes too prehistoric and primitive to properly express the emotions it is being subjected to. You are kind of…helpless. Helpless but enjoying – or lamenting – every last second. Glued to the theatre like a session of hypnosis. Indeed, out of a gruelling thicket plastered together by the feelings of inferiority, nervousness and intensity soared City’s blue moon. It rose just at the last minute yet ensured it would stay locked within the sky for many more minutes to come. United grafted and completed their job quite adequately, it must be noted, as did QPR. But this was a Blue day.
City deserved the crowned trophy after playing the best football, taking advantage of United’s 8 point slip-up and besting the Reds goal difference. Sour grapes from naysayers must be swallowed or spat out; this was City’s year alright. They earned the gong and no amount of whinging or complaints about ‘buying the trophy’ will change that – incidentally, those United fans who do complain about money in the game should probably check the irony alarm. City, almost mirroring the way United have gone about winning many of their medals, did it the hard way.
So hard that by the time Vincent Kompany – surely one of the greatest and most influential captains to ever lift a Premier League trophy – hoisted the big trophy aloft it wasn’t just blind joy or the usual post-trophy winning euphoria whittling around the Etihad. There was a hint of relief. For now City had strode in the footprints of the big boys; of the hierarchy of the league. They had beaten United at last. There was no inferiority complex – no nervousness or self-doubt or edginess. City are now fully fledged big boys with evidence for their endeavours. Last season’s achievements were the first true step to that status; this year’s achievements are the second step. And guess what? The third step never ends. For this, Manchester City, was the easy part.
If Roberto Mancini is smart – and he bloody well is – he will know that if ever there was evidence to suggest that money alone in football is weak, then this term is it. It takes more than cash to lift the title; it takes heart and solidarity. Mancini proved an excellent coach at instilling these elements into his team this term and he will know that he must do the same next term. And the next term. And the next term. You see, getting a foot on the top rung of the ladder – winning one title – is the easiest part. The hardest part is staying up there; the hardest part is fighting off enemies and those who will try to sniper you down. City must become a breeder of success – not just a club happy to top the ladder once. It is easy to dwell on ones laurels and believe the hype. It is easy to buy into what many journalists are calling a ‘shift in power’. It is harder – yet smarter and more rewarding – to rightfully smirk at those over the top calls and fight harder and more vicious than ever before. It is smarter to shrug off predictions of future dominance and shoot down complacency.
Do not become heady; remain focused. Do not underestimate anything. Do not take anything for granted and fine tune a winning mentality until your tuner runs out with wear. You broke a record? Break it again. You’re ten points ahead of United by the end of next season? Make it twenty the following term. Complacency kills but hunger turns you into true champions. Because true champions are never happy with what they have achieved. They are greedy; they always want more. Say what you want about Sir Alex Ferguson and his players, but what you cannot deny is this man’s will to win. He is not a manager – he is a perceptive wolf-like creature that at times looks as though he would rather die than lose. His determination rivals that of boxing legend Rocky Marciano and F1 driver Michael Schumacher. He just wins.
City have hurt him and United capitulated in an uncharacteristic way. They will be angered. They will come back. They always come back. Are you ready City? You better be – it gets harder each year. Good clubs get to the top, but perpetual winners stay at the top.
Many say the first trophy is the most important one. But I disagree; the most important trophy is always the next one. In football you live for now, not what you achieved here or there. The past will be fondly remembered over a glass of wine someday but the present is what counts the most. City now know what it is like to triumph in the Premier League and with that comes advantages. Yet it also comes with negatives. They have shown us they are the real deal; they are a force. With that comes expectation. Before, ‘learning curves’ and ‘bedding in’ with a dose of ‘no experience’ were thrown in as reasons for why City would falter. Now they are null and void and they must win and win to continue to prove doubters wrong. Now they have something massive to lose.
The hardest part of achievement is not starting the rolling ball but keeping its momentum up. It will take years of graft and hard work to become the type of name and force Manchester United are – and I suspect City and Mancini know this. The art of balancing confidence, ambition and focus is very, very hard and that kneel-on-your-throat predatory instinct will not be imminent. But this is not a cynical article on City; it is a warning for the exciting things to come. The hard day of work on Sunday was actually the easy part. It was a wonderful achievement and I congratulate the Blues. But now comes the hard part; now comes the gruelling defence of your position as the king of the castle while taking over Europe’s throne, now must come the almost predatory resisting of complacency.
Getting to the top? Tough. Staying there? Infinitely tougher. Now things get interesting – yet if successful endlessly rewarding – for City fans. Time to enjoy this win yet knuckle down afterwards, keep confidence in their hearts yet feet on the ground and create a legacy. Nobody wants to be known as one or two time chancers, but merciless demons of the game. City have done it once; they are looking beady eyed; they’ve reached the Promised Land. But, to remain hungry, they must reminded of the larger aim. They must be reminded that it will take years of hard graft and the proper use of their more than adequate foundations to stick the flag in the dirt of that Promised Land and truly make it their own.