With Manchester City seemingly under investigation by everybody apart from fictional sleuths Inspector Clouseau, Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, there’s never been a more apt moment for the Sky Blues to apply their modern day mantra of ‘Fight Till The End’.
For the conspiracy theorists who believe everybody is ‘out to get City’, it won’t come as any great surprise that the world and his wife have suddenly emerged from the shadows to chuck everything, bar the kitchen sink, towards the Etihad.
Is it pure coincidence that UEFA, FIFA, the FA and the Premier League have all trumpeted the fact – with great gusto – they are scrutinizing the off field affairs of City, implying guilt with every announcement and update?
Is it by sheer chance that it’s all happening precisely as Pep Guardiola’s team threatens to be the greatest in the history of English football?
We’ll steer clear of fanciful talk about any quadruple of trophies for City at this stage, but there’s no doubting the quadruple challenge seeking to undermine, even halt, the upward trajectory of Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City FC.
To have UEFA and FIFA – two of the most corrupt and rotten to the core organizations on the planet – wage war on City and its Abu Dhabi ownership, is tantamount in itself to a validation of City’s innocence.
Add to the farce, a petition from at least a dozen of City Premier League rivals, prompting another investigation into the Champions of England, and you have all the makings of a synchronized and cynically choreographed attack.
Did I mention a ‘petition’? Needless to say, the US owners of the scouse scoundrels at Anfield who, having blown a seven point lead at the top of the table, were first in line, egging on the Premier League to take sanctions against their title rivals.
Richard Scudamore, who recently departed his post as CEO of the Premier League, was quoted as saying he ‘…didn’t want to see City running away with another Premier League title’ having previously stated, ‘…a successful Liverpool and Manchester United, was good for the Premier League.’
Scudamore professes to support Bristol City, but isn’t it strange that we never heard such negative utterances about United running away with title after title, when they were dominating the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson?
It appears that it just won’t do to have City as the dominant force in English football.
The wave of allegations emanate from a bunch of very sauerkrauts at Der Spiegel in Deutschland, fuelled by the Football Leaks website. That will be the same Der Spiegel which was ignorant to the fact that one of its award-winning journalists, was effectively making stories up in this worrying era of fake news.
That will be the same Football Leaks which has just seen one of its primary contributors – a Portuguese computer hacker – arrested for allegedly doing just that, stealing data.
City have denied any financial irregularities in respect of all the allegations relating to falsifying sponsorship deals, deliberately misleading UEFA on Financial Fair Play compliance and also making illegal payments to Jadon Sancho's agent and family, when signing him as a 14-year old from Watford. Other allegations include the manipulation of player image rights, plus a wrangle over the alleged third party ownership of young Argentine player, Bruno Zucilini, who signed for City back in 2014.
For months the club’s only reaction to the insidious drip feed from Der Spiegel was, ‘We will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purported to have been hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people. The attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear.’
With operation ‘Smear City’ in full swing, an Italian journalist, whose only claim to fame was ‘breaking’ Ronaldo’s move to Juventus from Real Madrid, ‘broke’ another story just before the weekend. He claimed Pep Guardiola had a ‘verbal agreement’ to take over in Turin this summer.
Talk about manna from heaven for the anti-City media and pundits. They latched onto the story as proof that Pep was ready to quit, as City’s alleged wrong doings would soon become all too clear.
Perhaps surprisingly, but nonetheless pleasingly, Pep publicly laid that one to rest in his post match press conference after City had beaten bus parking Watford 3-1.
The Catalan genius responded, “If Manchester City wants me I will stay two more years by far, and hopefully another one. I’m not going to go to Juventus in the next two seasons.”
City fans could easily be forgiven for thinking that, just because they're paranoid, it doesn’t mean the rest of the football world isn't out to 'get' their club.
It’s looking like City will need to action the club’s motto ‘Superbia In Proelia’ – ‘Pride In Battle’ – to fend off an ever lengthening line of enemies.
One gets the impression that, having been remarkably restrained in the past in not going into battle with the pernicious Michel Platini, his crooked leadership of UEFA and warped concept of Financial Fair Play, City are right up for the fight this time around.
Whilst not wanting to be in the crosshairs of the football authorities in the first instance, there is a growing feeling that Sheikh Mansour and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak are prepared to go the distance to protect and, to some degree, restore, City’s reputation.
Thankfully, there’s not much wrong with City’s recent form on the pitch, following a run of nine consecutive wins and the retention of the League Cup, thrown in for good measure.
City are back on top of the Premier League and seeking to progress to the Champions League quarter finals and the FA Cup semi finals this week.
After that comes the usually odious international break – but not so this time around. The fortnight between March 16th and 30th will bring a welcome respite for some of Pep’s men.
It’ll provide much needed healing time and rest for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Fernandinho and City’s modern day ‘Invisible Man’ Benjamin Mendy. Other key players such as Sergio Aguero and David Silva, now free from their past commitments to Argentina and Spain, will take time out.
With Pep expertly managing to juggle and rotate his squad across the three remaining competitions, it’s little wonder every bugger is out to get us.
By David Walker